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Citizen Opposes Proposed Rabbit Hutch With 100-150 Rabbits in Residential Area

 By Crystal Howerton

A building permit submitted by Samuel R. Smith at 407 E. Church caused some concern among neighbors during the City Council meeting Monday evening, May 12, 2008.
The proposal was for the demolition of a deteriorating residence on the property and the placement of a 14 x 70 1984 Skyline mobile home already in Smith’s possession. Smith currently utilizes the building to raise rabbits in Lewistown and wants to move his operation to Edina, where he will be taking over as the new Edina United Methodist Church pastor in late June. He stated that approximately 100-150 rabbits are caged within the trailer at any one time.
City Council members were not opposed to the demolition of the house currently on the property, owned by Byron Fowler, which has caused concern due to the invasion and demise of multiple cats within. However, there was concern regarding the possible odor associated with the number of confined rabbits and how it might affect neighbors. “My only concern would be with odor,” stated Alderman Gordon Edwards.
Ron Stansberry, who described the proposed location as being “practically in his front yard”, admitted that he had serious concerns regarding possible odor and the effect it would have on his property values. He questioned Smith as to his intention for disposal of accumulated waste, the amount of which Smith estimated as being equal to that produced by 3-4 cattle.
Smith said that he has never had any difficulties in moving the manure. “Once people know that it is available, they come and get it for use in their gardens, flowers, etc.,” explained Smith. Until then, he planned to establish a compost pile. In addition, Smith shared that his neighbors in Lewistown were substantially closer to his operation than Stansberry’s residence would be and that he has not had any complaints from them. Smith invited those concerned to visit his set-up in Lewistown, which is still in operation.
City Council members agreed that it would be pertinent to obtain references from Smith’s neighbors in Lewistown and directed Police Chief Roger Waibel to do a site visit, as well. It was decided that Stansberry would accompany Waibel on the site visit, allowing him to form his own opinion.
However, during this lengthy discussion, Smith was given the opportunity to rent the 10-acre property on the west edge of town owned by Scott and Scherry Krunze of Edina and having firsthand knowledge of Stansberry’s opposition to his proposed rabbit operation later withdrew his building permit as it was. Instead, he asked the Council to consider the placement of his rabbit operation on the Krunze property on W. Lafayette, just inside city limits. Council members approved the placement of the trailer on W. Lafayette should the parties reach an agreement.
Council members heard minutes from the previous meeting read by City Clerk Margaret Gibson, as well as reports from Collector Betty Morgret and Treasurer Peggy Collinge. Kevin Hudson, CPA, was present with the 2007 Audit.
The City of Edina’s 2007 Audit received an “unqualified” opinion from Hudson, the same as in past years. He gave the following financial highlights for 2007. Edina’s total net assets were $2,355,435 as compared to $2,433,232 in the prior year. The Governmental Activities net assets were $906,016 as compared to $967,942 in the prior year and the proprietary funds net assets were $1,449,419 as compared to $1,465,290 in the prior year. Total revenues of the governmental funds were $440, 175 for an increase of
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$37,599 or 9.34% over the prior year’s revenues of $402,576. Total revenues of the proprietary funds were $485,145 for an increase of $24,604 or 5.34% over prior year total revenues of $460,541. Expenditures for the city’s governmental funds of $517,929 increased $160,752 or 45.01% over the prior year expenditures of $357,177. Expenditures for the city’s proprietary funds of $533,967 increased $77,521 or 16.98% over the prior year’s expenditures of $456,446.
Knox County Ball Association Treasurer Monica Zahn approached Council members with a request for the customary $1,000 annually donated by the City of Edina for maintenance at the ballpark. Zahn stated that the funds would go toward expenses incurred with the installation of a new steel door at the concession stand and metal roofs on the dugouts. She encouraged anyone that hasn’t seen these recent improvements to stop by the ball field and check it out. Zahn stated that new officers were voted upon recently: President – Heather Hubble; Vice-President – Desirae O’Neal; Secretary – Terry Mason and Treasurer – Monica Zahn. In addition, she discussed the possible purchase of a new Pepsi scoreboard in the amount of $3,000. She stated that Pepsi has agreed to donate $500 dollars and asked that the City Council agree to donate an additional $500, leaving the ball association responsible for raising the remaining $2,000. Council member voted to donate the customary $1,000, as well as an additional $500 for the new Pepsi scoreboard, stating that it was good investment for the community.
Jeanne Bailey addressed the Council again regarding the ongoing Pit Bull (dangerous dog) issue. She provided additional literature and requested a time line in which she could expect a resolution. Those present had been supplied with a sample ordinance, which is being considered for the City of Baring however, not everyone had ample time to read it prior to the meeting. A special meeting was scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 28, in order to further discuss the matter.
Absent was Cindy Gunter who was placed on the agenda to address the Council on behalf of the Knox County Swim Club.
Complaints were heard from Scott Krunze about four derelict vehicles on a neighbor’s property, Jack and Evie McCauley. In addition, a dispute by the above-mentioned parties regarding property lines in question and the possibility of an old road was later discussed by Chief Waibel and Council members. Having read a letter from City Attorney Tom Deveny, it was decided that the dispute was personal and not a matter for the Council. No action was taken in response to the derelict vehicles.
Council members discussed the written report submitted by Wastewater Superintendent Brad Eitel. He stated that the average daily flow for the month of April had exceeded the design flow of the wastewater treatment facility by 64,000 gallons, which is 119.6%. Rain contributed to the exceeded design flow again last month. The actual population equivalent was 1196, which is designed for a population of 2200.
Superintendent of Utilities Mike Wriedt informed Council members that the lift stations have been completed and that he is pleased with the new sewer camera. Wriedt stated that the ongoing rains have slowed the work on the streets this year. Alderman Donnie Davis requested that he look at a tube lying near residences of Freddie Kinsel and Hardin Harrington, which may be stopped up. Council members discussed the deplorable condition of the street near the post office. Wriedt said that the problems would be addressed as weather permits and cleanup would begin on the North Street water line project this week.
Chief Waibel discussed spring clean up specifically tall grass, vehicles and the status of derelict properties. He said that there were a few properties that will be turned over to the City employees to mow. Regarding the dog ordinance, he suggested that they compare Edina’s current ordinance with the sample ordinance under consideration by the City of Baring to determine the best plan for the citizens of Edina. In addition, Council members directed Chief Waibel to contact the owner of the house discussed in regards to the rabbit operation about the cat problem and making it inaccessible to animals.
Prior to adjourning, Council members discussed who would be attending the annual Missouri Municipal League meeting that will be held at the Edina Country Club on Thursday evening, May 22.