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Willmar City Council to consider ordinance amendments

The city zoning ordinance amendment would allow electronic reader boards in residential areas for structures such as churches or schools. (SHELBY LINDRUD | TRIBUNE)

WILLMAR — The Willmar City Council will conduct public hearings at its July 5 meeting on two ordinance amendments.

In February Redeemer Lutheran Church asked the Planning Commission to reconsider its stance on allowing digital message boards in residential areas.

Since then, Bethesda asked for permission to use a digital sign on its property. Currently, digital boards are not allowed in sections of the city zoned R-1 or R-2.

However, it is common for places of worship, schools and nursing homes to be built in residential areas.

“They would like to utilize electronic reader boards,” said Bruce Peterson, Willmar Planning and Development director at Monday’s council meeting.

The Planning Commission created an amendment allowing digital signs for certain properties in residential areas, including churches and nursing homes. The signs would have to follow all other residential sign ordinances, along with not being permitted to flash or display rapid animation.

The updated ordinance also mandates the signs not be illuminated between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. if the signs face residential homes.

A public hearing was conducted during the June 8 Planning Commission meeting and the commission recommended approval of the amended ordinance.

The City Council will also hold a public hearing July 5 regarding an amendment to the municipal code chapter on alcoholic beverages and their sale at social events at the Willmar Civic Center Arena.

There has been a private sector request to serve alcohol during a concert this fall at the Civic Center, which under the current code is not allowed, said City Clerk Kevin Halliday at Monday’s meeting.

Currently, the code indicates that a license to service or sell intoxicating liquors at the arena can be granted only for conventions, group meetings or banquets.

The amendment would allow sale and service of alcohol at conferences and social events such as concerts and athletic events during which the eligibility of participants is not limited to people 18 years or younger.

“We don’t want to see it at the younger hockey games,” Halliday said.

The amendment would also allow the sale of alcohol during the inaugural season of the Willmar Warhawks junior hockey team.

Only the licensed vendor may bring or distribute alcohol at these events.

There are also insurance requirements for the vendors before a license would be granted.

The council will act on the two ordinance amendments following the public hearings.

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