Discussion continues on Court Ave. property

April 17, 2015

Lennox City Council met in regular session on Monday night, April 13 at 7 p.m. Councilman Darin Olson was absent from the meeting.

Following approval of the minutes, payroll and claims, the council opened public speaking.

Rise (Doorn) Jongeling of Parker spoke about her concern on development in the Lennox area. Jongeling was involved in the Doorn development, and had  questions concerning subdivision regulations. Specifically, she questioned the City’s process in selling the lots by the railroad tracks, stating that selling more than three lots put them into a developer classification and required them to follow the subdivision regulations. She also questioned the conflict of interest of certain council members and a city employee.

“I would like to point out that when we tried to develop land outside of the city limits, we were required to bring an engineered plan to the City Council for approval,” said Jongeling in a list of questions presented to the council. “We had our engineer come down three times and explain many of the components. Why is it that the City does not fall under the same scrutiny as any other developer and follow the four steps of the approval process?”

The four step plan would include a Concept Plan, a Preliminary Plan, the Development’s Engineering Plans and Platting (before a building permit is approved).

Jongeling concluded by saying that she wanted to be sure Lennox continues in a positive direction.

Mayor Orville Wiebers asked her to leave a copy of her questions and said he would have someone address them.

Next on the agenda was the finance officer’s report. Jerry Jones reported that the budget was doing quite well and employees could expect some changes in the health insurance coverage. Most of the changes were normal, he said, and added that the employees were pleased with the plan.

He also reported that the office remodel was nearly complete.

“I’m very pleased on how it turned out,” he said. An open house will be planned in early May.

Jones also reported that all of the assessment changes made by the council have been accepted by the county.

May 11th will mark a new council year, said Jones. Both Russ Nelson and Darin Olson will be part of the meeting through old business. Following that, the board will reconvene as the new board and new council members will be sworn in.  

Only one council member chose to run for election this year—Tracy West from Ward III.  The Mayor will have to appoint someone to fill the vacant seats in Ward I and II. There have been no announcements regarding those appointments. 

Public Works Director Greg Stack then gave his report. He reminded everyone that sump pumps that are discharging into sanitary sewer should now be pumped into the street since the danger of freezing has passed.

He also reported on the upcoming projects. 

The City received a grant of $560,000 and a $1.87 million loan for the Main St. project. That project will take place in 2016. 

A community access grant of $200,000 will also be used in that project.

The City has been crack sealing in Meadows preparing for microsealing, Stack reported. This will be the first time the City will use microsealing as opposed to chip-sealing. City Engineer Mitch Mergen said that a benefit to microsealing is that you don’t have to pick up chips or have chips in your yard. However, you need good sound streets in order to use microsealing. 

Stack also said he will be meeting with a contractor on Tuesday to get a quote on repairing the bandshell.

The only item under old business was Court Avenue. 

Mayor Wiebers said that they were looking for a solution to give people access to lots.

Mergen, of Stockwell Engineers, presented three options:

Option 1 was what the firm recommended from the beginning.

“Looking at it from engineering aspect, this meets all the concerns we had,” he said. 

Option 1 provided streets on Cedar and Juniper from Center Avenue to Court Ave. and extended Court Ave. from Juniper to Elm Street. This option, estimated to cost $993,760, would be the best option for drainage, access to utilities, emergency vehicle access, pedestrian access, fire protection and snow removal.

Option 2, estimated at $883,000, would include vacating the north half of the right of way between Elm and Cedar Street and would construct  a U shaped road between Cedar and Juniper. By vacating the street, you would lose the connection to Elm.

Option 3, estimated at $813,000, would vacate the north half of the right of way between Elm and Juniper. Cedar St. and Juniper would be dead ended streets with hammerheads at the end of them to provide an area for vehicles to turn around. This option would require land acquisition.

All three option meet the minimum standards for the City.

Mergen added that the estimates include storm sewer extension from 1st. Ave. and Academy St. to Court Ave. at a cost of $230,000.

Councilman Phillip Fett asked what kind of plans Mergen was presenting.

“Concept plans,” replied Mergen.

Councilman Nelson asked, “So anyone looking to build a garage, they are not going to be able to do that until this is done?”

“Right now it’s a moving target for them,” said Mergen.

Landowners are looking for street elevations so they can build on their lots. 

Mayor Wiebers asked Mergen, “If we went with option 1, what would it take dollar-wise to plan and get their elevation?”

At the very least they would need a survey of the area and street elevations, said Mergen.

“It’s a tricky area,” added Mergen. “A lot more thought has to go into that area. I can’t give you a number tonight.”

The councilmen indicated that Option 1 was probably the best option to go with, but no action could be taken. Both West and Fett would have to abstain from voting because they have property in the vicinity. With Olson absent from the meeting, there was not a quorum to be able to vote at Monday night’s meeting.

Fett stated that he felt the City needed to look to legal council before making decisions. 

“When we have open discussion, some members in the community take it as gospel,” he added. “I think we need legal council at this point.”

The council approved tabling action on the options and set a special meeting for March 22 at 6 p.m. 

In other business…

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