5/25/2017 1:39:00 PM Lindstrom Council reconciles simmering issues
Sometimes a city will be asked to intervene when there’s simmering neighborhood discord. People will look to local government to reconcile all sorts of disputed standards and activities. The city of Lindstrom had an unusual number of these type situations on the agenda last week:
~ Council was asked to takeover a private roadway due to a dysfunctional homeowners’ association.
The head of the association, J.D. Harris, spoke with council last week to see what needs to happen to facilitate the transfer of the association’s biggest asset-- the road.
The association consists of owners of five houses (six physical lots) in the “Lakeridge” plat, on South Center Lake by the high school. Harris described the association as not functioning successfully and it wants to disband.
Lakeridge’s narrow dead end street is a few hundred feet long with no urban features and lacks a turnaround. Council said the neighborhood would have to be willing to petition for a project to bring the street to city standards, and then agree to be assessed.
Harris responded that if the assessments are about the same price as association fees have been, the neighbors would probably be agreeable. City Engineer Jon Herdegen was directed to provide an estimate for what a project might cost and staff will further evaluate the request and report back.
Council member David Waldoch commented that everybody should first contact mortgage companies and make sure gifting of property (ie: road easement) is allowed by the lenders.
There was another point of contention between neighbors who keep lawns on the opposite ends of the grooming spectrum. The request before the city council was for a variance for a fence two feet taller (six versus four) than what existing code allows. Council, with the exception of David Waldoch, agreed that keeping the peace was worth granting the variance blocking out the sightline into the “natural” lawn. Waldoch stated he found no “practical difficulty” justifying a taller fence, which is required to grant a variance from code and he voted no.
Another situation on Oak Street, where it meets the lake, involved a perception of unfriendly public access. Property owners reportedly have not exercised Minnesota-Nice behavior and shooed away lake vistors using the street right-of-way to get to the water. Private docks, structures, etc. are being erected within what is a passive public access lane. (This is not a boat launch or public beach)
The city parks committee held a meeting on-site with invited neighborhood members, and the report to council from that gathering is the city will look into defining the right-of-way (maybe a small fence) in order for everyone to enjoy what city fathers laid out as passive public access to South Lindstrom Lake.
A new garage was built south of the three-statues “Oberstar Plaza,” off Linden St/Summit Avenue and has generated concern.
One contingency of the garage variance the city granted was that no excess stormwater would end up on the neighbors’ parcels. The project called for careful run-off management, including directional downspout collection and outlets, to make sure the neighboring yards didn’t end up soaked. City Administrator John Olinger said the garage owners are admittedly “making slow progress” but they have been working with enforcement staff when reminded of variance conditions.
A neighbor asked if the city would order removal of some project components that they say are on their lot and over the property line. Council advised this issue is civil and not criminal-- and asked the neighbors to try to work together on encroachment issues.
The on-going demolition of the long-vacant Panel One manufacturing plant, a block south of city hall, has unearthed concrete debris nobody was aware was buried there.
RE Peterson was given the debris cleanup for $15,000 or $7.50 per cubic yard. There were three quotes gotten.
Razing and site restoration should be done by the end of May. City Administrator Olinger said the contractor Veit, which is also taking down a residence on Bull Lake, in Allemansratt Park, was awarded the project well under-budget, so Olinger said there’s funds to address this debris. This material is beyond what the specs included, Olinger continued and the Peterson quote was about half what Veit said it could do the job for.
Re-locating of the city watermain at the County Road 20 bridge was given to EJM Pipe, Columbus MN. The bid , $168,640, was the best of six. The main will be shifted to the east and will be directionally-bored under the wetland.
The county is replacing the bridge in 2018.
New surface hardscape is being put in the three-statues plaza on Hwy 8. The surfacing product used originally is not holding up.
Shoreline Landscaping got the project to install pavers instead, with a quote of $9,360. The company is also improving the pocket park under the coffee pot at the municipal bar, and installing bike hydration and bike repair station improvements in the Chamber of Commerce lawn.
Financial Report The 2016 audit was presented and the Abdo Eick & Meyers representative told council Lindstrom has “done a good job of managing cash flow.” The policy is to have a balance entering the new year of at least 45 percent of annual expenses and in 2016 the year end balance under “unassigned” categories was 53 percent.
Counting all taxes, licenses, permit fees, transfers in (liquor store, bar) and interest on investments the city had revenues (for general fund) of $2.6 million. Expenditures were $2.4 million.
Taxes in 2016, as a per capita measure, were $477. This has grown from $407 per capita in 2013, to $409 in 2014 and was $425 in 2015.