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Harmony City Council Report: Council tables action on sewer/street development

Fri, Feb 16th, 2007
Posted in Government

Harmony - On February 13 the Harmony City Council welcomed Devon Scrabeck and other Harmony residents to discuss sewer connection issues for the Jacobson Addition Development. Scrabeck explained that, under the current utility layout, in order to build a house on a lot in the 5th St NE area a sewer pipe of over 300 feet would need to be installed. He inquired if a larger city line could be installed to shorten this distance and prepare for future housing developments in that area.

Mayor David Kingsley replied that he understood Scrabeck's concern, however the city is currently encouraging developers to pay for their own utility installations. He cited that within this development there was extremely poor planning concerning city utilities and that after this experience the city has tried to encourage developers to plan and pay for their project's sewer and water lines.

City Attorney Richard Nethercut pointed out that the Jacobson Addition Development (in which this lot is located) is a city development with plans for city-owned streets and utilities, therefore it may be a city responsibility to install a street with utility lines. Kingsley then stated that if this was the case, the future street would be required to be designed by an engineer and could result in costs over $150,000. Further, that with the city's mandated process of requesting proposals to hire an engineer and contractors before construction, the line would not likely be installed until late summer.

With this information Scrabeck and other residents attending the meeting voiced their concerns. Scrabeck stated that his house was scheduled to be delivered in May and that the house his family was renting would be unavailable to them in June. In addition he did not want to start a process that would impose expensive fees on his new neighbors. In fact, if this is what the outcome would be he may cancel purchasing the lot. Others stated that prior to purchasing their lots they had spoken with the City Administrator Jerome Illg and were led to believe that this wouldn't be such a lengthy or expensive process. Illg replied that his advice had been under the assumption that they would be installing their own septic tank and not connecting to city lines.

The council determined that an engineer should be hired to determine what type of road will be required for the development. The best case scenario would be that the area is naturally sloped enough that curb drainage would not be required - meaning the cost to construct the road would be considerably less. Based on these findings the city will determine the next steps. Kingsley directed Illg to have the engineer's findings by next month; the council tabled this discussion until the March meeting.

Fire Fee Increases

Harmony Fire Chief Bill Hanlon explained that the DNR and Tri-County fire mutual aid fees have increased from $200/hr to $300/hour. Historically the city has followed suit and increased their rates to townships and mutual aid visits to be consistent with the DNR and Tri-County, therefore he proposed the city raise their fire fees similarly. Additionally, Hanlon stated that the reimbursement for the fire department's officers had not increased in over a decade and now the department has a training officer that is currently not reimbursed.

Council member Jerry Shuck asked if other communities had raised their fire fees and what their fire officer reimbursements were. Hanlon replied that they had and to the best of his knowledge, Harmony was the last to raise fees and the lowest within the county for fire officer reimbursement. Concluding this discussion the council moved to increase fire fees for mutual aid and township visits to $300/hour effective March 1, 2007. Additionally, the council moved to increase fire officer reimbursements to be more in line with the neighboring communities effective immediately.

Water Tower Paint Project

Previously the council approved a water tower paint project in which the interior, exterior and lettering of the water tower would be re-painted. The City Administrator Illg presented the committee with color choices for the exterior of the water tower and designs to illustrate how the Harmony letters will appear on it. After a brief discussion the council decided upon the color "warm-sun" for the tower's body/base and "cayenne red" for the roof and lettering - basically cream and dark red. The council also decided the lettering should be diagonal on two sides of the tower.

Snowmobile Activity

Mayor Kingsley requested that Harmony residents follow the city's ordinance regarding snowmobile activity. Currently the ordinance states that snowmobiles should not be run within city limits after bar hours. He has received complaints that some with snowmobiles had been driving in people's lawns late at night. He suggested that those that have this issue call the sheriff.

Other Business

In other business the council:

• Heard from Stephanie Silvers, Harmony Library that circulation was up 4%.

• Approved a cell phone dial-up equipment purchase that will notify the city if water-levels within the tower fall dangerously low.

• Learned that the wastewater treatment facility was running well and meeting all permits.

• Heard an EDA-joint meeting with the council will be held February 27 and the Business Roundtable/HAPA will have a meeting February 19 - both meetings will be at the Community Center.

• Approved two Wine and 3.2 Beer liquor licenses.

• Approved an Adult Business Ordinance.

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