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City Council Approves New Building Permit

By Staff | Jun 16, 2011

Emmetsburg City Council approved an updated building permit for the awning and fire escape at 920 Broadway. Approval came after discussion at the Monday night meeting.

Council members had asked for an updated building permit application at their May 23 meeting. They had expressed concern that construction at the corner of 10th and Broadway was not being built according to submitted plans. Council members also expressed concern that the original building permit for an emergency fire escape and awning was approved in 2009 and had expired after one year.

The new drawings, presented to the council Monday night, showed placement of a catwalk over the awning.

Councilman Steve Finer said he had talked to Frank Kliegl, the city’s building inspector.

“He (Kliegl) said the fire escape was constructed correctly,” said Finer. “It will be mounted solidly to the building and then go down, I’m assuming, to the rafter,”

“I’m having a hard time reading this and I do this for a living,” said Councilman Corey Gramowski.

“I’m not an engineer, so I can’t tell you if it’s going to be mounted safe or not. That’s one of my concerns,” said Finer. “Frank said that he did know that the actual structure that was built by Picray does meet OSHA standards and he thought it was going to be fastened in a manner that was structurally sound.”

“I tried to read it and had the same difficulty,” said Mayor John Schad. “Does anybody know where’s the stairway leading to the ground?”

“I just assumed it would be in the alley,” answered Finer.

Attorney Todd Buchanan, attorney for building owner Dr. David Kundel, explained that the catwalk is only on the south side of the building, adding that all apartment residents will have access on the south side.

“My concern goes back to they didn’t have a permit for an awning,” said Gramowski. “They had a permit for a fire escape.”

Finer added, “There is no doubt in my mind it wasn’t built the way it was presented, ether that was his intention from the beginning or not or whether they just plain changed during the building process. My main concern is that this fire escape gets put up correctly so that if there is a fire it’s going to handle the people up there and get them out safely. Whether we want to levy a fine against him for the other”

Council representative Sandy Pelzer expressed concern as well. “My concern is we won’t know whether or not the plans follow these plans.”

Buchanan commented, “Everything is done with the approval of Frank Kliegl. He is your agent in the field. He is the one who has the expertise and has approved everything that has been changed up to this point. I really bit my tongue at the last meeting. I don’t like putting Frank on the spot, putting words I his mouth.”

Buchanan said he had asked Kliegl to attend Monday’s meeting and he encouraged council members to talk to Frank directly.

“He’s the one who approved these changes,” said Buchanan. He is the one who has looked at the plans, talked to Rick (Bisenius) about it. He’s talked to Picray about it. He says it meets code. He’s satisfied that it works fine. But again, I really don’t like to speak for Frank. I think those of you on the council that are still concerned about it need to talk to Frank and get it directly from him. I can tell you what I think, but I’m Dr. Kundel’s lawyer.”

Mayor Schad suggested taking no action on the building permit until there was an opportunity to talk to the building inspector. Buchanan said that would result in two more weeks without a fire escape on the building.

“I’ve had about enough of this,” said Councilman Brian Malm. “I think it does look nice up there and I want to allow this, with inspection, to make sure that it follows the permit.”

Finer asked fellow council members if they wanted to implement any kind of fine, or just let it go.

“You can’t fine the contractor,” said Malm.

“My main concern is, I don’t want people to think they can come in, get a permit and just do what they want and it happens,” said Finer.

Councilman Tony Kauten said he also has questions for building inspector Frank Kliegl.

“I wasn’t here for the first part, but I looked at those plans and it was an awning that had one inch of slope (per foot) and that’s clearly not what’s there and you made it sound like that was approved by Frank,” said Kauten.

Mayor Schad questioned whether Frank Kliegl is able to “approve substantial deviations for a permit that the council approved.”

Schad added, “In this case, they were a year late. The permit had expired. It was to have been done within a year and there were substantial changes to the awning. I agree, it looks great, but do we really ant to get into the business of proactively saying, ‘okay here, fill out this building permit and tell us what you did’ because that’s apparently what happened here.”

Councilman Brian Campbell added, “As far as your question on a penalty, I really get the feeling that Dr. Kundel is the victim here. It’s difficult to be an absentee landlord and I wouldn’t feel right fining Dr. Kundel. So if there are any penalties, I think it should be the contractor, not Dr. Kundel because he was not here to supervise.”

“I don’t know that we can do that,” said Finer.

Councilmen Malm and Campbell made the motion to approve the new building permit. Council representative Pelzer added that the permit needed the signature of building inspector Frank Kliegl. She also requested that no construction take place between 5 and 8 p.m. during the Farmers Market and municipal band concert.

Council representatives voting to approve the building permit were Malm, Campbell, Finer and Pelzer. Voting no were Gramowski and Kauten.


Street Closing

Emmetsburg City Council approved temporary street closing on specific dates.

Sheryl Nolan requested 12th Street, between Lake and Palmer, be closed for the neighborhood block party. A resolution was passed approving that request for Friday, June 17.

Deb Hite, Director of Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce, requested closing 10th Street, from Broadway east to the alley west of Iowa Trust & Savings Bank, from 5 to 8 p.m. on five consecutive Thursday nights: June 16, 23, 30, July 7 and 14.

“People at the farmers Market asked if we could do something to expand Farmers Market,” Hite told the council. “We would like to do something to improve the atmosphere downtown one night a week.”

She pointed out ho the restaurants are doing a good job drawing people, but the municipal band has a hard time drawing an audience at 8 p.m. Hite said that retail businesses have agreed to stay open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays and Iowa Trust & Savings Bank had no problem closing the street as long as the drive-up is open to traffic.

“Farmers Market does go on from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday, but we are not asking to block the street all day,” Hite told the council. “Bill (Dickey) had a good idea to use our yellow sign saying that the street would be closed from 5 to 8 p.m. for Farmers Market. I have been working with Ronia Klootwyk at Farmers Market and Dave Ballman (band director) and he (Dave) would like to be a part of it so they want to bump up the concert to 7 p.m.”

A resolution was passed approving closing that part of 10th Street on the selected Thursday nights this summer.