In a meeting that stretched just past the 90-minute-mark, the Manchester City Council unanimously approved what Mayor Milt Kramer described as the “longest (consent agenda) we’ve had in quite some time.” The council also holding a pair of public hearings and gave the green light to improve a downtown city parking lot.

The council approved a $194,137 contract with Horsfield Construction for the South Madison Parking Lot Project. Horsfield was the lowest of the five bidders and came in 10% under the engineer’s estimate.

This project will include both the paved and gravel parking lot areas behind Community Savings Bank along with the sidewalks. Additionally, pavers will be placed in the area to help reduce the water discharge from rain events to minimize the impact in that drainage zone.

City Manager Tim Vick said there with be a several month period where some of that area will be closed while the construction occurs, but he said staff will be reaching out to impacted businesses soon. The project has a late start date of Aug. 1, but there has yet to be a formal conversation with the contractor as to when they are going to begin the project.

In other construction-related-closure news, the council passed the third and final reading of an ordinance setting the fine at $100 plus court costs for drivers who travel around barricades set for either construction or emergency purposes within Manchester. Police Chief Jim Hauschild said that while this rule was already in place, previously the fine amount was determined by a judge. He said with all the construction slated to happen in the near future, having the city set the fine will streamline the process.

The council passed the first reading for a rezoning request of a property at 115 East Union Street from R1-70 to R4 for the purpose of adding an additional two-bedroom unit to an existing duplex. The Manchester Planning and Zoning Commission has already held a hearing on the request and provided a positive recommendation.

City staff said there was one inquiry into the project, but they were not sure if it was positive or negative. They told the council the interested party stated they would send an email, but one was not received by the time the council reviewed the matter.

The council agreed to a change in the Maquoketa River Watershed Management Authorities bylaws, which would change how a quorum, or the minimum number of members required to be present to make any proceedings valid, is structured.

Vick, who informed the council he will now be serving on the executive committee, said with 38 entities involved in the watershed, getting the required 20-person-quorum assembled is difficult to say the least. Through the new proposed bylaws, there would only need to be a quorum of the nine-member executive committee to conduct business. The proposed change also reduces the number of required meetings per year from four to two.

The council also agreed to contribute $5,179, or $1-per Manchester resident, to the watershed in order to contribute towards operations and grant matches.

In other news, the Council:

• Held the first reading of an ordinance that would raise Compost Area Maintenance Fees from $2-per-month to $3-per-month to offset operational costs, which have exceeded the revenues generated by the fee applied to the utility bills. According to city documents, the fee was last increased in July 2007.

• Held the second reading of a proposed water and sewer rate increase. According to the agenda, the water base rate will increase from $5.93 per month to $6.04 per month for standard 3/4 inch meters. Water charges will increase by 2% going from $3.15 to $3.21 per 1,000 gallons of water consumption. The water rate for water not returning to the sanitary sewer system (outside water meter use) will increase to the following rate: Monthly Basic Service Charge of $0.82 plus $3.75 per each 1,000 gallons of water consumption. The Sewer base rate will increase by 1% from $11.08 per month to $11.19 per month. Sewer charges will increase by 1% from $6.13 per 1,000 gallons of water consumption to $6.19 per 1,000 gallons of water consumption.

• Set a public hearing date for a proposed 25-year lease to Riverside Property Group for an alley locally known as being located behind the old Grumpy Bill’s building for June 10.

• Approved to close the 100 block of South Franklin May 23 from 5 to 6 p.m. for “Jazz in the Streets.” The council also approved closing South Franklin Street from Main Street to the Marion Street bridge June 1 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Rhubarb on the River.