Officials consider support for Lamoureux sisters, hockey team in boycott
Grand Forks City Council member Bret Weber used a few moments at the end of Monday night's council meeting to speak on behalf of Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson and Monique Lamoureux-Morando, two Grand Forks natives who are members of the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team, while the team threatens to boycott an upcoming tournament if they can't negotiate for better pay and support with USA Hockey.
Lawyers for the women's team have voiced concerns about low pay in spending on development programs, as well as disparities in "equipment, staff, meals, travel expenses, transportation, and publicity" between women's and men's programs.
Weber suggested that the city consider a proclamation or similar support for them, especially given the city's decision to honor the twin sisters several years ago for on-ice accomplishments.
"Jocelyne and Monique ... are leaders on the ice, and now they're leaders on this basic issue of fairness," Weber said.
Weber asked that the city look into ways that they could show their support, and Mayor Mike Brown indicated that the city would do so.
The Grand Forks City Council also approved two items that help bring a new Sonic restaurant to 1800 S. Washington St., the current site of the former Ponderosa restaurant. One gives local approval to the project's receipt of tax incentives through the city's Renaissance Zone program, which allows building projects downtown and near the Grand Cities Mall to receive state and local tax breaks. City staff are expected to forward developers' application to the state for further review.
The other item approves a rezoning request to allow the project to proceed, though it still requires a second approval by the Planning Board and City Council next month.
Developers have said they hope to open the restaurant before the end of summer.
The council also voted 5-2 to pass an ordinance allowing UTVs—utility task vehicles—on city streets.
The vehicles are like ATVs, but more closely resemble golf carts. The ordinance, which received final approval on Monday, permits them on all city streets except major routes like Washington Street and 42nd Street. They're also required to have the proper safety gear, such as brake lights, turn signals and seat belts.
City Council members Ken Vein and Bret Weber voted against the ordinance. They've previously remarked that it adds a layer of regulation that could be confusing for law enforcement and the general public.
The ordinance is expected to be re-evaluated in one year.
Planning and zoning
The Grand Forks City Council gave 7-0 early approval Monday to a measure cutting membership on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Currently a 15-member body, the zoning board has more seats than many communities in North Dakota.
The plan city leaders voted upon could have gone further, dropping membership to nine seats, but a motion from City Council President Dana Sande curbed the action, asking the city to ease into cuts and "walk before we run."
The current voting makeup of the commission includes six at-large members appointed by the mayor, three appointed by the county, two city council members, a Park Board and a School Board member, the city engineer and the mayor.
City Attorney Howard Swanson explained that Sande's motion removed the mayor from the commission and made the city engineer a nonvoting member.