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October 19, 2018

1/19/2018 3:26:00 PM
Chisago City is okay with new elementary school

Preliminary and final plats for the new Chisago Lakes Elementary School gained approval from the Chisago City Council Jan. 9 contingent on resolving a number of questions about streets, trails, fees and traffic control.  

The future elementary school site involves 84 acres at 29678 Karmel Avenue north of Hwy 8 toward the west side of the city.

The final plat is required for road dedication to the site. The street dedication would include public right-of-way along Karmel and access to the city’s public works building and fire station located in the same area.

On the advice of the city attorney, the council directed staff to prepare a resolution for approval of the final plat pending resolution of outstanding issues, requiring the approval of Mayor Bob Gustafson and the City Administrator.  The city attorney also advised a developer’ s agreement may be necessary if any of the work to be done on the property can be considered a “public improvement.”

Issues raised by citizens at a Jan. 4 public hearing the city planning commission held, included the possible need for speed reduction and speed signs on Karmel Ave., future trails and sidewalks to the school from Liberty Lane and Karmel Avenue and use of down-lighting on school property. A traffic study may be in order.         

Extensive discussion also reportedly took place at the public hearing regarding parent transport of students and cars congesting the area. The school indicated that the traffic loop at the school allows 50 cars to stack.

The school district has asked the city to review proposed water and sewer charges (WAC/SAC) of $37,710, and consider crediting the district for WAC/SAC fees previously paid at the Lakeside School, where city services will no longer be used  once the new school opens. The school district will also pay a sewer trunk charge of $93,000 and a water trunk charge of $69,000.

After its Jan. 4 hearing, the planning commission unanimously approved the final plat and design review, forwarding it to the city council with amendments:

- The school provide additional ingress/egress for the parking lot (only one driveway entrance was originally proposed) and access to the bus lane. The school may add a gate to close the second access during parent pick-up times

- The city council review water and sewer access charges and consider allowing a credit from the Lakeside School.

- The school provide trail fees of $37,945 or, in lieu of trail fees, accommodate a 10-foot wide trail easement alongside the future south road right-of-way.

Also at issue is the width of Karmel Avenue and the necessary right-of-way. Karmel Avenue was previously a county road (110 foot wide) easement but it is not clear where the road right-of-way exists on the school property. The city is asking the school to dedicate 35 feet of its property along Karmel Avenue to provide the 70-foot right-of-way. The city is also seeking dedicated right of way for a future road on the south side of the school property.

Because park land is not part of the school plat, the city proposes that the school district pay park fees of $16,953. The park fee is based on the market value of the developable acreage. City Administrator John Pechman said the school’s attorney expressed concern about the park fee citing the extensive playgrounds on the site.

Based on the council’s Jan. 9 action, the final plat for the new elementary school is approved once outstanding issues are resolved and stated in a resolution that meets the approval of Pechman and Mayor Bob Gustafson.

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Ron Rollins for Sheriff

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