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home : news : news July 25, 2017

5/10/2017 10:59:00 AM
Old Towne Road assessment complaints reviewed


“The county told us it wouldn’t cost us anything,” said Shanahan. ”It’s a county road—why are we being assessed for it?”

Bruce concurred, “It feels like we’re getting it coming in the back door. We were not given any idea whatsoever that we were going to be assessed for this.”

Bruce contended that Old Towne Road is much more heavily used than a residential street and that it carries heavy truck traffic, so the cost should be shared more broadly. He added that a six-foot-wide bike trail “that nobody uses” was cut through his yard as part of the project. He pointed out that it was the second time he has been assessed for reconstructing Old Towne Road. The road was rebuilt 25 years ago “and was done wrong then,” he said.

Shanahan also asked the council if something was going to be done about getting better grass growing along the boulevards and rights of way. She said the first seeding last fall produced mostly weeds, and she questioned whether the recent reseeding would be any better. “Whose job is it to see that we get better grass there?” she asked.

The council told the property owners that they were not being assessed for the roadway itself, but for a percentage of the city’s share of related storm sewer reconstruction.  “The majority of the city share of the project was for storm sewer cost, not the pavement,” said the city engineer. The council explained that earlier notice of the assessment was not given because, when a project is not led by the city, state law requires the city to wait to determine total cost of its share of the project before sending assessment notices.

Chisago County had originally asked Chisago City to pay $700,000 toward the county road project. The city objected, and the city’s portion was reduced to $353,565, primarily for constructing and enlarging storm sewers. Based on past similar projects, the city assessed adjoining properties for 40 percent of that cost, or $141,426.14. This comes to about $9 per front foot for properties adjoining the roadway. The city told the property owners that the project was not assessed as a residential street improvement. If it had been treated as a residential street, property owners would have been assessed for 90 percent of the cost.

After hearing from the residents and acknowledging receipt of one email containing a written objection, the council approved the assessment roll. No appeal of the amount of an assessment will be considered unless a written objection was filed with the city before or at the April 25 hearing.

The assessments will be spread over 10 years at 3.5 percent interest. To avoid interest, property owners can pay their assessment in full within 30 days of April 25.  If their assessment is not paid within 30 days but s paid in full by Nov. 15, property owners will pay only the interest to that date. The assessment can be paid in full at any time.

In other business:

• The council heard an in-depth presentation on the May 9 school bond referendum  by Joe Thimm, Chisago Lakes Superintendent of Schools.  Polling places are the Chisago City Community Center, the Chisago Lakes High School preforming arts center lobby in Lindstrom and the Taylors Falls Elementary School. Thimm said the $64.95 million bond issue includes a new grade 2-5 elementary school on Karmel Avenue in Chisago City, demolition of the Lakeside School (and sale of that property, which is too small to gain state approval for a new or remodeled school,) and additions at Chisago Lakes High School and the Taylors Falls Elementary School.  According to Thimm, it is the district’s first bond issue for new school buildings in18 years and. if approved, will take the district 20 years into the future. Estimates indicate the bond issue would cost a district resident with a $200,000 home in Chisago County $157 a year for 20 years.

• City retains consultant for downtown redesign
In anticipation of planned county reconstruction of the remainder of Old Towne Road through downtown Chisago City and reconstruction of the remaining portion of Stinson Ave to Highway 8 in 2018, the council has employed the firm of Bolton & Menk, landscape architects, to complete a master design plan for Chisago City’s downtown.

The council authorized spending $24,918 from the street maintenance fund for Phase I of the streetscape project. The plan will include: streetscape elements for Old Towne Road, Stinson and Railroad avenues, gateway elements along the north side of Lake Boulevard (Highway 8), redevelopment of Main Street triangle park, and other park improvements. The plan will address parking, circulation, accessibility and aesthetics as well as signage, lighting and planting opportunities. Council members also raised the possibility of including Wyoming Avenue in the design project. A workshop meeting will be held at a future date to further discuss the design project.

• City offices closed July 3
In response to a request from city employees, the council agreed that city hall and the motor vehicle department will be closed on Monday, July 3, before the July 4 holiday.

• Set the timer: Dogs can only bark 5 minutes
The council wants to put some teeth in the city’s ordinance on barking dogs. The revised ordinance would change the time a dog can bark before the owner is cited from 10 minutes to five minutes with less than 30 second intervals “between animal sounds.”     When asked if this was consistent with animal control laws in other communities, city staff responded that 10 minutes is more common, but that in Lindstrom the limit is 10 minutes during the day and five minutes at night  A public hearing and second reading on the proposed municipal code revision will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 23 after which the council will vote on the change.

• Right-of-way issue resolved
A complex right-of-way issue at 9990 Bonnie Glen Parkway was resolved after four years of negotiation between the city and two adjacent property owners. On recommendation of city staff, the council approved an encroachment agreement that allows existing buildings to remain on city right of way, and a related easement which gives city maintenance vehicles rights to turn around and store snow on adjacent piece of private property.  

• City to seek bids for street projects
The council plans to seek bids for street improvements this summer at Shoquist Lane, Sportsman Drive, Jennifer Court and James Court. Normally, City Administrator Pechman said, the city finds it beneficial to combine smaller street projects and bid them as one. However, after an April 4 informational meeting, residents of Jennifer Court objected to that approach saying that bidding James Court and Jennifer Court together would force residents of Jennifer Court to pay a disproportionate share of the total cost. They want the James Court and Jennifer Court projects to be bid separately, which could result in higher costs for James Court than previously estimated.
On April 25, the council proposed that James Court be bid as an alternate that can be included or removed. The council then ordered a feasibility study on the street work prepared for a special council meeting at 5 p.m. May 9.

• New play equipment OK’d for Paradise Park
Kids can look forward to playing on a new gravity rail soon to be installed at Paradise Park. The new playground piece, recommended by Park Director Doris Zacho, replaces a zip line that was removed several years ago. The gravity rail includes both elevated and ground level play activities for kids age 5 to 12. The $28,000 cost estimate includes ground preparation. The council also approved up to $4,000 to replace a vandalized swing set at the park. The money will come from the city’s park replacement fund.

• Updating fire department policies
The city and the fire chief are in the process of converting Chisago City Fire Department bylaws into a city-approved policy manual. The council voted to pay a company called Lexipol to update all state and federal requirements in the fire department policy manual for an annual fee of $2,674.

• Policy will guide future assessments
On the recommendation of City Administrator Pechman, the council approved a policy that will serve as a guideline for the council to use to review and approve future assessments. The policy covers the methods to be used to determine assessments for sanitary sewers, watermains, storm sewers and street construction and resurfacing projects. Councilman Jeremy Dresel moved to approve the policy after asking, “Is this a rule?”  to which Pechman replied, “It’s a policy. We will be proposing projects based on this. It’s up to you as the council whether to follow it.”

• Dresel submits low bid for Jeffrey Ave repair
With Councllman  Dresel abstaining, the council voted to accept the low bid of $57,600 for repair of Jeffrey Avenue from Dresel Contracting, Inc. Other bidders were R.E. Peterson at $62,620 and Peterson Companies at $76,422. The road was damaged during transmission line repair by Xcel Energy late last fall.

• City accepts donations
The city council accepted two donations at the April 25 meeting.  Donations must be accepted by a two-thirds vote of the council. Jeanne Miller donated $500 for improvement of the deck at Strom Hall at Ojiketa Park. Dresel Contracting donated $554 in three-quarter inch rock used at Jeffrey Avenue.

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