Rental code amendments have first reading

The Bemidji City Council held the first reading of an ordinance amending the city’s rental code.

After months of issues at some of the Ridgeway Court Apartments, one of the items introduced includes an on-site management requirement after repeated property or tenant issues.

Another rental code issue of debate was the occupancy vs. family or four-unrelated people in a single-family unit.

Ward 5 council member Lynn Eaton voiced his concern that with the lack of housing in the area, occupancy limits based on square footage could increase barriers to housing for residents.

Mayor Jorge Prince contended that the occupancy limits would increase safety, which is a top priority of his.

The council will hold a public hearing in the second reading in two weeks.

The council also held a contentious discussion on forming an advisory committee for the Wellness Center and Rail Corridor Development Project.

City Attorney Katie Nolting advised that since there is currently no purchase agreement between the city and the developer, and with open meeting laws, the council would have to proceed with caution in forming the committee.

Greater Bemidji’s Dave Hengel said the committee would streamline communication and help with the grant process.

The measure creating the committee passed 4-3, after a failed 3-4 vote to hold off on forming the temporary committee.

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