Lanesboro City Council approves Auburn/ Zenith street improvement assessments

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After fielding questions and listening to comments from property owners concerning the Auburn/Zenith street improvement projects and the proposed assessments, the Lanesboro City Council voted 4-0-1 to approve two resolutions regarding the assessments.

Mayor Autumn Johnson and Councilors Jason Resseman, Marge Drake and Bridget Harvey voted in favor of the two motions, while councilor Tom Smith abstained, as he is a property owner in the project area.

Comments came during a public hearing that was held at the beginning of the council meeting on Monday, Oct. 1.

Brian Malm from Bolton & Menk informed the council that the final cost of the project was somewhat less than the original estimates and that savings would be passed on to the property owners in the project area.

The total project cost is $1.3 million, with $260,000 being assessed to property owners. Most of the final assessments decreased from the preliminary assessment, except if the homeowner signed to have some added work done.

There are a total of 41 parcels of property included in the project area. Malm explained all but one is currently being assessed. The only parcel not included is outside the city limits. The parcel cannot be assessed by the city at this time, but if and when the property is annexed into the city, the city then can assess it.

Malm continued that there were several different assessment applications. Part of the project included “full blown improvements” to both sides of the street. Part of the project included complete improvements only on one side of the street. And some sections just receive a new overlay of pavement without sewer, water, curb and gutter improvements.

Phil Haug said he felt the project on Zenith Street was “a disaster.” He said he couldn’t access his field drive, utilities were removed from his property and he questioned how these “improvements” really benefited his property.

Malm responded that new utilities were stubbed right up to his property line for future development.

Clorees Haug said it is a “nightmare” attempting to drive out of the driveway now.

Phil Haug also stated the roadway was very narrow at the front of his property and questioned the accuracy of the survey. He stated the project has taken away five parking places near his home and the street is so narrow that it will not accommodate the parking of cars and persons riding bikes along the roadway at the same time.

“It’s a disaster,” said Bob Olson. “It’s a terrible project. I’ve lived here for 10 years. They should have talked to me.”

Sarah Pieper asked about the storm sewer assessments. “Is everyone being assessed the same for this?” she asked.

Malm reviewed the three different assessment categories and informed Pieper that she would only be assessed 50 percent because the “full blown” improvements were only on one side of the street.

Once the public hearing was completed, the two resolutions, ordering the preparation of the proposed assessments and a second adopting the assessments were approved by the council.

A question if the two cemeteries located in the project area should be assessed or not was brought up. Malm said if the cemeteries were privately owned, they should be assessed. If they are publicly owned they should not. The council decided to include both cemeteries in the assessment list and if it was determined either one is publically owned, it would be removed from the assessment list.

In a related matter, the council decided to table any action regarding an alleyway located off of Auburn Street (in the project area) that the city has been maintaining for several decades. It is not clear if this section of roadway was vacated in 1992, as some records indicate or not. City Attorney Tom Manion said he would review the issue and report back to the council at the November meeting.

Other business

The council approved a request for $400 to help fund a marketing piece that helps promote the Lanesboro area.

Approved additions and revisions in the current city sidewalk improvement policy. There were just minor changes made.

The council then went into closed session to discuss the possible purchase of property.

The next council meeting will be held Monday, Nov. 5, beginning at 5:30 p.m.