A number of items pertaining to roads and zoning were up for discussion at the Tuesday, October 1 Rushford Village meeting. While no formal decision was made at this time, a decision will need to made on most relatively soon.
Of particular interest was an item brought to the table by Mayor Gordon Johnson. The bridge crossing at Aspen Road has been noted by county inspections as needing serious repair. City Engineer Derek Olinger, of Bolton & Menk, has reviewed the report and visited the site. It’s been previously suggested that the bridge may need replacement with a box culvert. Such an undertaking represents a serious financial impact to the city, already scrambling to keep up with road and water issues.
“So what would be the thoughts if that bridge went away?” asked Johnson. Currently, the city and Yucatan Township both own sections of Aspen Road. “We’d be on the other side by more than 100-feet. The thought of spending $100,000 or more to put in a bridge seems…”
The area is unique in that the west portion of Aspen Drive and Village Drive, are both accessed off Highway 16, roughly a half mile apart, before both heading south and meeting and merging as only Aspen Road. Should the Village abandon the roadway as a through road, homes in a new subdivision there and up the Yucatan Township will access their properties via Aspen Road only. Three homes and a storage unit, properties along the other road, would have access only off Village Drive.
City Attorney Tom Manion suggested abandoning the through road and eliminating the bridge is an option, as access to properties still exists. His only noted concern was whether the change would impact any impending or future developments.
Public Works Supervisor Travis Scheck questioned whether or not it created any problems with Yucatan Township having access through the city road. Manion insisted that as long as it’s public and not a development, there should be no issue.
“We have bridges out here that are expensive. If we don’t need it… is it a viable thing or not?” concluded Johnson. The issue will be discussed more at a later date.
There was some concern over a resident of the new subdivision parking vehicles on Aspen Road. Zoning Administrator Jon Pettit stated he believed there was some issue with the road base and rock on the property driveway and that the problem is being addressed. Should issues persist, the Village may send a letter to property owners.
Also noted was an ongoing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood insurance situation with a property in the subdivision. City Clerk Mary Miner forwarded a letter regarding the property to Pettit indicating FEMA wanted to check with city flood management.
“I suppose they’re getting asked to pay flood insurance,” said Pettit. “If they don’t know their elevation, they missed the boat and that’s their issue.” While the house itself is not in a mapped floodplain, the portion of the property is. “If they want to change anything with their map or [file a] Letter of Map Amendment, they have to start with an extensive survey to get the base elevation.”
Councilor Roger Knutson questioned whether permits granted for construction indicate it is the property owner’s responsibility and if not, whether they should, to avoid the issue in the future.
Manion indicated that by issuing the permit, applicants still have to do their due diligence with all aspects of the project. “It’s a question to whether or not we have a duty to them in the first place.”
“They knew it. This didn’t come upon anyone and it was very clear with this subdivision to begin with,” added Pettit. As the matter is in the hands of the property owner, the council took no action.
In other Planning and Zoning items, another communication from a solar contractor has been received in representation for a Village property. This time, the request is for a 13.6 kW project, larger than has previously been approved by the council, but still within allowed size guidelines. The location is the Emmerson farm north of the Grinde Bridge off Highway 16 west. The Planning and Zoning Board has requested a permit application be received by the October 15 meeting. The board will review the application before making a recommendation to the council and setting a public hearing.
The public hearing for the David and Leanne Kasper solar project has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 15, at 6:30 p.m.
The MiEnergy solar array project is still awaiting a meeting between the array contractor and the Planning and Zoning Board. The permit application for the project was discussed and it was determined that the property owner should file the application, not the contractor, as was done in this case.
The 2020 budget is still under consideration. The 2018 budget amount was $435,000. There are a number of special considerations for next year that may see the amount raised. These include loss of $10,000-16,000 annually from the county, possibility of excavation and grading work in south Rushford, and the upcoming need for a public works truck, originally planned for 2021. It’s expected that the budget will be discussed further at the next council meeting.
The Truth in Taxation meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 17. Property owners within the Village with questions should consider attending. The meeting is open to the public.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday, October 15, at 7 p.m., at the Village Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.