The Albia City Council on Monday gave approval to dedicated two parking spots for electric vehicle battery charging. Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative Manager Charles Van De Pol was at the meeting to discuss the proposal that had already passed the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.

Van De Pol said the charging stations would not be a money-maker for the electric coop, but it could encourage downtown shopping for people from out of town stopping to make an hour or two recharge. Van De Pol said there are currently 41 hybrids and one full EV car in Monroe County, so most of the usage would come from out of town.

He added that EV owners typically use a map of places that offer charging facilities.

The charging station will likely be on the south side of the courtyard next to the handicap parking spaces. Van De Pol suggested a two-hour limit on parking at the charging stations.

The council was unanimous in approving the spots.

The council also dealt with one of its first issues with the city’s new fencing ordinance. Damon Couder, owner of a home near J&K Tire and the Absolute Cleaning building on North 9th, was seeking a variance to built a chain link fence about six feet on to city right of way. Damon had already set some posts, not fully aware of his lot line, which borders city right of way. A water line runs through the middle of the right of way in this largely commercial area.

Damon wanted to put up the fence for the safety of his child and a pet.

Dennis Conley, who said he had put a lot of work into the new fencing ordinance, wanted to make sure the variance met the standards of the ordinance. Satisfied that it did, the council approved the variance unanimously.

The council discussed and then tabled a decision on assessing a property at 121 North 9th Street $4,800. A prospective buyer of the property had approached the council about paying the city $1,000 to cover tear down costs already incurred, but not assessing the full $4,800 on future taxes. The council wanted to know what the potential buyers had in mind for the odd-shaped lot and also the risks involved in not assessing the property taxes. They authorized City Attorney Bob Breckenridge to negotiate with the potential buyers.

Councilman Dennis Conley initiated a discussion on the possibility of UTV use on city streets. UTVs (unlike ATVs) are equipped with a roll cage, brake lights and seat belts and could exceed city street speed limits. Conley had been asked by several residents about using UTVs, that would actually be safer and more visible than golf carts, that under city ordinances, can use the streets.

Currently farmers can drive their UTVs into town to fill up with fuel. A UTV is not licensed by the state, which makes enforcement and identification of the vehicle difficult in the event of a traffic violation. Police Chief Jay Andrews said that it is also difficult to differentiate a farm vehicle usage from leisure usage.

Councilman Merle Regenold, who was somewhat skeptical of opening up city streets to UTVs, admitted that the city already allows UTVs with snow blades to operate on city streets in the winter. He also had some questions about the definition of a UTV as opposed to an ATV (4-wheelers and 3-wheelers). Councilwoman Cathy Mobley shared some concerns about the speed of UTVs and also underage drivers using them.

City Attorney Breckenridge said he would start to research other city ordinances (Knoxville and Ottumwa both allow UTVs) and would report back to the council.

The council alpproved the replacement of the street department’s golf cart that is used for street striping. The cart is an E-Z Go purchased used from Joe Pistek for $2,200.

The council also alpproved beer and liquor permits for Brick Street Johnson Style and the Highway Restaurant.

The council briefly discussed the need to redesign and update its website. City Clerk Heller was going to contact Bethany Caskey as well as the Chariton Valley Planning and Development for ideas.

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