The October 1 Lanesboro City Council meeting opened with a public forum to discuss the assessments for the Auburn/Zenith Road improvement project. City Engineer Brian Malm began the forum by updating the council on the project. The contractor had finished their punch list items just before the council meeting, and the contract states that the contractor will be responsible for correcting any issues that arise with the items or the project in the next two years. “It’s complete, but we will be monitoring over the next two years and especially next spring,” Malm said. He also noted that the project came in under budget so the assessments to the homeowners are actually lower than what was originally estimated except for one property which had requested the addition of sewer services. One of the assessments was for a property just outside of city limits. That assessment will be postponed until the property has been annexed to the city. Prior to the meeting, notices had been sent out to each property owner detailing their assessment and their rights.
A number of homeowners were present at the public forum to discuss their dissatisfaction with how the project turned out. Phil and Clorees Haug were very unhappy with the way their driveway was redesigned, making it difficult to back out of. “It’s a nightmare,” Clorees stated. Phil also pointed out that the street is more narrow in one section which eliminated five parking spaces. He recommended either prohibiting bicycles from that part of the road or installing a sidewalk for safety. He felt that the surveying on his property was done incorrectly and was upset that the sewer and water wasn’t replaced all the way to the undeveloped lot, which will make it harder to sell and develop at some point. Malm assured him that it was done with the option of extending it if needed.
“It’s just one big disaster,” property owner Bob Olson stated. Other homeowners agreed. Olson was also upset that he was assessed as a corner lot as he felt that part of that assessment should have been divided among all of the homeowners on the road. Mayor Autumn Johnson advised him that the assessments had been determined based on city policy.
Mayor Johnson addressed the homeowners’ dissatisfaction with the project. “We did have multiple public hearings to discuss the plans before the project started,” she pointed out. She asked that the discussion be kept to the topic of the assessments themselves as that was the point of the public forum. “We have had many, many meetings on design so we’re not talking about that tonight.”
As there were no more comments or questions about the assessments, the public forum was closed and the regular city council meeting was opened.
Hal Cropp from the Lanesboro Area Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor Center asked the council to consider donating $400 to the Commerce to allow them to apply for a matching grant from Dairyland Power Cooperative. The money would be used to help cover printing costs for the Lanesboro Visitor’s Guide. The council approved the donation request.
The public utilities department, Lanesboro library, Heritage Preservation commission, Planning & Zoning commission, and Economic Development Authority all have terms that are expiring and will have seats available on their boards soon. Anyone interested in serving is asked to call the city offices for more information.
The council reviewed the city’s sidewalk policy and updated it. City staff had evaluated the sidewalks around town and laid out initial areas of concern that will need replacement soon. They plan to repeat the process in the spring. The city’s policy states that 50% of the cost for sidewalk repairs or replacements will be assessed to the homeowner.
There is a section of road on Auburn Avenue that the city vacated in 1992. City Administrator Michele Peterson asked if the council would like to leave it as is or consider reversing the vacation. “What’s in the public’s best interest?” City Attorney Thomas Manion asked. “It sounds like the public has a benefit from the piece being maintained.” The council decided to table the matter until more research could be done.
The council reviewed proposed resolution 2018-37 regarding the assessment of two cemetery parcels and the property on the Auburn/Zenith project that is not in the city limits. Manion noted that Minnesota statute requires that privately owned cemeteries be assessed during city projects, but not public ones. Malm had looked into the status of both parcels and found one to be listed as owned by Catholic Cemeteries and the other owned by Catholic Cemeteries and the City of Lanesboro which leaves the matter unresolved. The council decided to approve the resolution for the time being and reassess later if necessary.
A final payment request was received from Gen X, the contractor for the Auburn/Zenith improvement project. As noted earlier during the public forum, the punch list was completed earlier that day. Malm recommended approving the pay request contingent on receiving all of the paperwork for the final work done. “Are you satisfied with the completion of the punch work?” Council member Jason Resseman asked Malm.
“I’ll be honest, some of the sod he put down, we’re going to be watching it in the spring time,” Malm answered. “The only reason I feel comfortable doing this is because we have a bond, and we have a two-year correction period which means that if anything happens, he’s (Gen X) is on the hook for it.”
The council approved the pay request contingent on receiving final paperwork.
The next Lanesboro City Council meeting will be held on November 5 at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:30 p.m. to allow the council time to conduct the budget meeting before the official council meeting starts. The budget meeting is open to the public.