About Me

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I have served the City of Isanti as Mayor since 2007. We have accomplished great things together and I look forward to building on our success. United, we move forward to a better future. You may contact me at 763-442-8749 or e-mail me at george@georgewimmer.com. My website is www.georgewimmer.com

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Isanti Council Work Session

This was my list of priorities for the goal setting session.

1.Define work direction for city staff.
2. Board and Commission reports to Council.Appointed Council Members give a 5 to 10 minute report to the full Council on objectives and projects that are being worked on.
3. Formation of Finance and Development Review Committees.
4. Establish monthly Council work sessions.
5. Mandatory Department Head management training.
6. Review of staff representation on outside boards.
7. Monthly Department reports to Council.
8. Department goal setting by Council.
9. Direction to Boards and Commissions on attendance.
10.Development impact fee.
11. Greater Chamber of Commerce involvement.

The Council met to discuss goals for the next two years. We had some heated discussion once again about my blog and the Isanti Police Department. All other items were handled in a cordial and professional manner.

Items 1, 2, 4, and 9 from my list were discussed and agreed to by all Council members. This includes staff being once again allowed to complete the Development Impact List.

There was agreement on forming a Development Review Committee but not a Finance Committee. We discussed department head training but no resolution was reached. We did not discuss staff representation on outside boards, development impact fees or greater Chamber of Commerce involvement. I hope to continue to push for these items. I have asked to have Staff representation on outside boards discussed at the next City Council meeting.

I asked for support of a 3 and 5 year budgeting plan. A 3 and 5 year budget plan will establish Isanti's priorities. We will be able to better understand the needs and obligations to our Citizens if we have a long term view. This long term view of budgeting will help reduce excessive City spending. Long term planning is the only way we can serve the needs of all Isantians.

The 3 and 5 year budget plan along with the Development Impact List will have the longest lasting affect on our Great City. These are not the sexiest items and will not get the most press, but our City will operate at a higher level after implementation. The concern was raised by other council Members that the time needed to develop these tools is not worth staff time. I could not disagree more. The Budget Plan and Development Impact List will allow City Staff to work smarter not harder. These tools will have great time and money savings.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Comprehensive Plan

The next Comprehensive plan meeting is Thursday February 2, 2006 starting at 7pm at City Hall. It is extremely important you attend. This plan will be the blue print for the next decade of city development.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Artic Plunge

I will be participating in the Artic Plunge. Yes I will be taking the big dip in the frigid waters of Long Lake. I am of course assuming that winter will make another appearance this year. I have included the Artic Plunge information. I hope everyone will attend. This is a charity event for our Fire Fighters.


The 4th annual Artic Plunge is Saturday March 4th 2006.

Location: Sunrise Resort Bar & Grill on Long Lake

Events include:

8 a.m. registration for the 10 a.m. Vintage Snowmobile Races

1 p.m. Ice Cutting Demonstration by the Englund Family

2 p.m. Artic Plunge into Long Lake
Please call 612-282-6246 for information on taking the “Plunge”

4 p.m. Musicmen DJ service

There will be a meat raffle, raffle tickets and refreshments. All proceeds will be donated to the Isanti Fire Department.

Please contact Carrie @ 612-282-6246 or Sue @ 763-234-9691 with any questions.

Cambridge County Market

The Cambridge County Market is converting to a Cub Foods according to the Isanti County News. Read the following article for further details.

http://www.isanticountynews.com/2006/January/27CountyMarket.html

Thursday, January 26, 2006

City Work Session

The Isanti City Council will be meeting Tuesday 4pm-8pm January 31st at City Hall. We will be discussing procedures for directing city projects. This includes what authority city boards and commissions have to direct staff time. This became an issue when Mayor Apitz and Council Member Larson blocked staff from working on the Development Impact List. The full Council will be discussing goals for 2006.

I will be presenting the following list for Council consideration:

1. Define work direction for city staff.
2. Board and Commission reports to Council.
Appointed Council Members give a 5 to 10 minute report to the full Council on objectives and projects that are being worked on.
3. Formation of Finance and Development Review Committees.
4. Establish monthly Council work sessions.
5. Mandatory Department Head management training.
6. Review of staff representation on outside boards.
7. Monthly Department reports to Council.
8. Department goal setting by Council.
9. Direction to Boards and Commissions on attendance.
10.Development impact fee.
11. Greater Chamber of Commerce involvement.

I would like to hear from the public if they have other issues that need to be discussed. If you live, work or own property in Isanti you have a vested interest in the future of our great City. This is a public meeting if anyone wants to attend.

Sign Ordinance Sub-Committee 1/26/06 Update

The sub-committee met this morning and made progress on permanent signs. We have also discussed differentiating commercial/industrial and residential development signage. Progress has also been made with temporary signs. We will hopefully have draft language at the February 1st meeting.

Residential real-estate and development signage has been an issue of concern. We need to balance the business need with resident safety and aesthetic appeal. We discussed 1 larger sign per development and 1 information yard sign per lot. Real estate signage would allow two direction and 1 yard sign per home being sold. These are just two examples of the working process to date. IF you have any concerns or suggestions please let me know.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Email List

I have been asked again to inform you that if you would like to be added to my e-mail update list to let me know. Simply e-mail me at george.wimmer@genesiswireless.us and I will add you to the list. I generally send out 1 update every two weeks. This changes only if there is something important and urgent to make you aware of. This list is also confidential. No one knows you are on the list but me.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sign Ordinance Sub-Committee 1/19/06 Update

The Sign Ordinance Sub-Committee met this morning to discuss the needed revisions to the current sign ordinance. We will be meeting again next Thursday to continue this process. The key points discussed today were:

Definition of permanent and temporary signs
Signs on buildings
Having several temporary sign categories
Signs in residential neighborhoods
Sign size
Sign aesthetics
Permit cost
Time allowed displaying sign

These topics and others will be worked on by city staff and this sub-committee. If you have any questions please let me know. I hope to have a draft ordinance by the Feb 14th Planning Commission meeting.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January 17 Council Meeting

On a tie vote of 2-2, Council Member Johnson was absent for the 2nd meeting in a row, the City Council refused to allow staff to work on the Development Impact List. Mayor Apitz and Council Member Larson praised the List and the good work accomplished but then voted to stop its progress. They seemed to be concerned that I had initiated this work. The Council will take this issue up at the January 31st work session. I hope to renew the work on the Development Impact List after this meeting. The work needs to be completed before Isanti starts being inundated with development plats for 2006. For further details please read the previous post.

The Council left all appointments at status quo for 2006. All board, commission and committee members will remain the same.

Progress is being made on the remodeling of the old City Hall. The Police Department will move to this location once the remodeling is completed.

Friday, January 13, 2006

January 17th Council Agenda

The Isanti City Council will be designating the City’s official service providers at the January 17th meeting. These include the Official Newspaper, garbage collector, bank depository, and many other essential city services.

Committee assignments will also be decided. There are 15 committee assignments and the position of Mayor Pro-Tem. These include but are not limited to EDA, Planning Commission, Liquor Committee, and Fire Board. These committees are essential to good governance.

The last issue I wish to discuss is the Development Impact List. This will be reviewed and discussed at Council. I had made the request to the Planning Commission and city staff to develop tools reporting the impact of development. This list includes:

Road construction and maintenance cost
Traffic impact
Water capacity
Sewer capacity
Police protection
Fire protection
City staff time
Park and trail maintenance

This list will drive the creation of planning tools to calculate the impact of development. These planning tools will then dove tail into the short and long range budget and planning process. The goal of these tools is to bring a clearer focus to both the positive and the negative issues of our Rapid Residential Growth. It will ensure that future Planning Commision Members, Council Members, and Isanti Citizens will know the impact of our planning decisions. Together we are making a difference. I will keep you updated on the progress of the Development Impact List.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Isanti Annual Police Report


The Isanti Annual Police Report for 2005 has been completed and is available to the public. I have posted a number of the key statistics for the City of Isanti. The previous statistics I shared with you revealed Isanti County’s crime data.

I was happy to see Criminal Sexual Conduct has declined. The other key criminal statistics had dramatic increases. This report will now be updated monthly and available to the public. I believe providing as much information as possible to the public is critically important to making educated decisions on Isanti's priorities. I have served on the Police Commission and worked with Chief Sager to develop monthly reporting tools. This is one of several issues that the Police Commission has been working on.

This data once again shows the need for more policing in the City of Isanti. Our current police force has increased the miles they drive on patrol by 29%. These Officers are working hard. We need to give them the tools and resources needed to succeed.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Sign Ordinance Sub-committee

The Planning Commission established a sign ordinance sub-committee to create a draft ordinance for the Planning Commission to review. We will hopefully be meeting early next week. The intent is to have a draft ordinance to review by the February 14th Planning Commission meeting. The subcommittee will have 5 business members, 2 Planning Commission members, and 2 city staff members. I have the honor to serve with this group. Please let me know if you have any input into this process.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sign Ordinance

The Planning Commission will be discussing revising the Sign Ordinance at the Tuesday January 10th meeting. This meeting is 7pm at Isanti City Hall. I encourage everyone to attend. I will be proposing a 6 step process over 3 months to correct this issue.

1st. The Planning Commission will adopt a draft Ordinance at the January meeting.

2nd This Draft will then be disseminated to the Business Community.

3rd All comments will then be due back in time for the February Planning Commission meeting.

4th The Planning Commission will then incorporate these comments into the process.

5th The Planning Commission will then recommend the Draft Ordinance to City Council at the March Planning Commission meeting.

6th The City Council will then approve or deny the Draft Ordinance at the last Council meeting in March.

I will also recommend that there be a 3 month moratorium on the current ordnance enforcement unless there is an egregious situation.

This is an outline of the process I will be recommending. I am but one vote on the Commission and Council and do not speak for either body. Whether you agree or disagree with this process I hope you attend the Planning Commission meeting. An ordinance can be created that fosters a strong Business Community while maintaining the aesthetic appeal of Isanti. Please send me any comments or concerns you may have. Thank you for your time.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Candlelight Ski

The annual Candlelight Ski at the Anoka Ramsey Community College is going to be held on February 18 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. Door prizes will be awarded at 7:30 and there will be blue grass music by "High Ground" and cookies and hot chocolate will be served.

The ski route has changed slightly because of construction but the Ski will start at Campus Center of ARCC, Cambridge.

We hope you can all attend!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Limiting Eminent Domain Rights

Here is an Eminent Domain story. The move is on to limit this destructive practice of taking from individuals and giving to developers. Isanti had its own case of this last year. This destructive practice must end.

http://www.kare11.com/news/news_article.aspx?storyid=115856

I had also written a post on this last year.

http://georgewimmer.blogspot.com/2005/07/eminent-domain-and-voting.html

Yearly Appointments

The Isanti City Council did not make its yearly appointments to Boards and Commissions on January 3rd. This was decided by city staff and the Mayor. These appointments to Boards and Commissions are always made at the first City Council Meeting of the year. This includes the EDA and Planning Commission which have been the focus of some controversy in 2005.

The decision to move this to the next meeting was made because the Mayor and Council Member Johnson would be absent. This appears to have been done to make sure that appointments would be only made when the "correct" votes were available.

This manipulation of the agenda due to members’ absence should not be tolerated. I doubt if I was going to be gone I would receive the same privilege. Why are these two given such special power and consideration? I was not aware they would be gone until they did not show up at the meeting. Council Member Larson and city staff knew days, if not weeks earlier.

If Mayor Apitz and Council Member Johnson did not want to miss the yearly appointments vote then they should have made the Council Meeting a priority.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

January 3rd Council Update

There are two topics from the Council meeting I want to discuss. The first is the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund (GMHF) Grant Agreement. The 2nd item is Isanti's water quality.

The grant agreement covers $50,000 from the Greater Minnesota Housing Fund. This grant is tied to the Comprehensive Plan. I had several questions centering on the requirements placed on the City. I questioned the definition of affordable housing.

The definition provided is total housing cost to the homebuyer is no higher than $140,000. This would entail the City subsidizing these homes. With lots currently being sold with ranges of $50,000 to well over $100,000 Isanti taxpayers will be asked to help fund each new "affordable" house.

The Housing Fund requires an “adequate” level of affordable housing and participation in a model project. The model project again is a method to create affordable housing.

I have significant concerns with these types of projects. This type of project assumes there is not enough “affordable” housing currently in Isanti. I have asked for a survey of Isanti’s current and planned housing stock. We need to know what we have before we add more low cost housing. I believe Isanti has a core of this housing currently. If we start adding new low cost housing on the outer rim of Isanti, we will no longer have the natural impetus to maintain the current housing stock. This means that we could end up with many older homes being neglected and possibly turning into rental properties in the cities core. This is a problem many cities have had to manage.

Isanti also needs to maintain a level of housing that generates enough property taxes to provide required services. We can not focus primarily on low income housing. The focus needs to be on providing adequate housing options for current and future residents. This project also assumes a level of local subsidy.

The main method used for creating these model “affordable” housing projects is small lots. The GMHF recommends 60 and 40 ft lots. This would require building house on top of house and causes me further concern.

The first step in this process is obtaining the information I requested on current housing stock. Secondly, if we have a need for more affordable housing, then we need make sure we keep a balance between older and newer properties. I want to make sure if this type of project is created, it will help those that are in need in the community. Isanti taxpayers should not become the solution for low income housing issues in the greater metropolitan area.

I understand the need for low income housing. I grew up in an extremely poor household. I also understand the need to maintain a balance between low, medium, and high end housing to have a healthy community. I look forward to a vigorous public debate as we move forward in this process.

The other topic of water quality was discussed. The taste and order of Isanti’s water has suffered from the high residential growth. The chlorine equipment has reached its capacity. A new larger unit will be ordered to again improve the taste and smell of Isanti’s water. There is not a health concern. Enough chlorine has been added to remove any harmful germs/bacteria. Any questions, please let me know.