- DRAFT –
SUNFISH LAKE SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL OPEN HOUSE MEETING – MAY 24, 2017
6:00 – 8:00 P.M. – MENDOTA HEIGHTS FIRE HALL
2121 DOD ROAD, MENDOTA HEIGHTS, MN
Councilmembers: Mike Hove, JoAnne Wahlstrom and Steven Bulach
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
Engineer: Don Sterna
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
and Members of the General Public.
Mayor Richard Williams arrived at 6:45 p.m.
Engineer Sterna introduced himself to those present and explained that notice of this Special Open House meeting was sent to residents that live on Charlton Road and/or use the road to gain access to their homes from private roads to discuss improvement options for the road. He explained that he also invited residents living adjacent to Sunfish Lake to discuss the road and also improvement of the outlet for Sunfish Lake. He stated that Council authorized staff to hold this meeting to review the draft Feasibility Report and discuss improvement options that would improve safety for pedestrians and vehicles on the road, address increasing maintenance costs and improve drainage. He advised that the goal is to discuss the improvement options and receive citizen input relating to the proposed improvements.
The Engineer stated that another significant topic for discussion would be the residents’ willingness to dedicate easements for the project that are necessary to construct the improvements and, by doing so, would reduce the cost of the project. He pointed out that the residents abutting Sunfish Lake were invited to discuss problems relating to the outlet and its proposed improvement and that the costs for the outlet improvements would be charged only to those with property abutting the lake.
REVIEW OF THE DRAFT FEASIBILITY REPORT FOR CHARLTON ROAD IMPROVEMENTS: Engineer Sterna explained that Council initially began discussing the improvements to Charlton Road last year in conjunction with the proposed Highway 110 improvement project. He stated that three (3) options for the road improvement were discussed at that time and Council directed staff to prepare a feasibility report that included the three (3) options. He advised that preparation of a feasibility report is mandated by State Statutes Chapter 429 if the City plans to assess property owners for the improvement project and that the assessment cannot exceed the benefit to the property owners.
The Engineer pointed out that Council identified the substantial increase in maintenance costs for the road as another driving force behind the proposed improvements and also that the maintenance costs more than doubled in the past eight (8) years. He reviewed the drainage issues on the road that occur due to the gravel surface and the lake outlet not working properly. He stated that along with the drainage and maintenance problem, on the road there are issues with the gravel surface such as the fact that it is harder to plow and becomes more slippery than pavement during the winter months,
ROAD IMPROVEMENT OPTIONS: Engineer Sterna explained that Council had discussed the possibility of improvement of the road in stages and he reviewed the three (3) options outlined in the feasibility report as follows:
Option 1: Paving the road from Highway 110 only past the church property;
Option 2: Paving the road from Highway 110 to the Smith property, and;
Option 3: Paving the entire road
The Engineer reviewed the estimated costs for each option and explained that the road could be designated as a “preservation road” in order to minimize the width and to preserve vegetation and the rural aesthetics of the area. He showed areas were curbing and gutter and catch basins would be installed to assist with drainage. He also showed the area where the sharp curve would be realigned. He commented that the road would meet the 25 mph design standard and the realignment of the curve near Delaware Avenue could reduce accidents in that area.
Engineer Sterna stated that the existing outlet for Sunfish Lake is too small and has caused drainage issues this year. He recommended the installation of a new outlet that would move the water more efficiently to the north side of the road.
The Engineer discussed the fact that the City would need an agreement with the City of Mendota Heights in order to move the water which would eventually reach their City. He further explained that the costs for the lake outlet installation would be borne by the residents with property adjacent to the lake and not assessed to the road improvement project.
Engineer Sterna also noted that the proposed improvement would include two “bump-out” areas for parking larger maintenance vehicles and equipment and also as staging areas for fire trucks. He explained that there was discussion of placing some additional parking stalls on the street near the church to accommodate overflow parking for special events.
The Engineer stated that the plan also includes widening of the road at Delaware Avenue to install a right turn lane.
An audience member pointed out that many residents walk or jog on the road and asked if speed bumps are proposed.
Engineer Sterna stated that they are not proposed as part of the project, but could be installed.
An audience member asked what is needed for the project to begin and when would it start.
The Engineer explained that in order for the project to move forward, the City would prefer to have 100 percent of the easements necessary to complete the project donated from the residents. He further explained that the City also must review financing options to determine if it is financially feasible to bond for the project. He stated that the project could being as soon as 2018 and would take approximately two (2) months to complete.
Mayor Williams arrived at 6:45 p.m.
Engineer Sterna advised that the City Attorney had drafted two (2) easement documents for those present to review. He reviewed the difference in the type of easement needed by the City from property owners. He also explained that if a property owner grants the easement and the City does not proceed with the project, the easement would be returned to the property owner.
PROPOSED SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS: Engineer Sterna referred those present to the proposed assessments outlined in the feasibility report for the three (3) options discussed as follows:
Option 1: The proposed assessment would be approximately $10,500 per unit
Option 2: The proposed assessment would be approximately $6,500 per unit
Option 3: The proposed assessment would be approximately $8,500 per unit
The Engineer stated that Option 1 is more costly since there are less property units to bear the expense and the costs decrease for the other options as there are more properties to assess. He explained that the City’s assessment policy provides for a cost share of 40% assessed to property owners and 60% paid by the City. He reiterated that the lake outlet costs would be 100% assessed to the lake property owners and the cost would be approximately $1,000 per unit.
Councilmember Bulach pointed out that if the road improvement does not proceed, the lake outlet installation would still occur and that the costs would increase substantially if it is not done in conjunction with the road project.
Engineer Sterna agreed and noted that the cost could be well over $50,000 if the outlet were done on its own.
The Engineer explained that the assessment payments are normally spread over a 10-year period and he reviewed the most recent per unit costs for road improvements in other areas of the City. He commented that the benefit to property owners should exceed the assessment costs.
Engineer Sterna advised that the next step would be for residents to provide their input on the project to Council at their June meeting so that the feasibility report may be finalized for Council adoption in July. He noted that Council would then direct staff to contact the property owners in order to determine if all the necessary easements could be obtained and to review the financing options for the project.
RECEIVE PUBLIC QUESTIONS/COMMENTS: Engineer Sterna offered to respond to questions.
Questions from the audience related to the following:
- Increased traffic issues if the road is paved
- Where curb and gutters and catch basins would be installed
- Who is responsible for determining the lake level
- Who determines how to proceed with the options discussed
Attorney Kuntz explained that at the last open house held for this project, residents raised questions relating to the appearance of the road improvement, the cost, the assessments, the time frame for the project, and the maintenance costs for the road. He stated that the Engineer responded to those questions and prepared the feasibility report with options for Council to consider. He noted that the Engineer proposed the road be designated as a “preservation road” in order to draft standards that would allow the road to be narrower than a standard City roadway. He explained that Council must determine if they wish to proceed with improvement of the entire road that outlines an assessment of approximately $8,500 for residents.
The City Attorney pointed out that the project would not be financially feasible if 100% of the residents are not willing to provide the necessary easements to the City. He described the two types of easements, one for street, drainage and utility easements and the other for only drainage and utility easements.
Attorney Kuntz explained that at this time it would be appropriate for residents to provide input to Council as to whether or not the City should proceed with improvement of the entire road.
Clerk Iago advised that Council agreed at their last meeting they would prefer the improvement of the entire road.
An audience member indicated they would prefer the installation of speed bumps as part of the project.
Engineer Sterna discussed the pros and cons of speed bumps installation and noted that the speed tables installed on Salem Church road appear to slow traffic. He commented that installation of the speed bumps could be incorporated in this project if Council wishes to do so.
There was discussion of installing other options to reduce speed such as signage or mirrors near the curve in the road.
Engineer Sterna explained that in his opinion signage does not slow traffic and he was unsure if mirrors would work.
Mayor Williams commented that in his opinion the speed bumps seem to slow traffic.
An audience member stated that he would prefer the City pave the entire road and that he would be willing to give the City the easements required on his property.
An audience member asked if the road could be striped with broken lines along the curve in order to keep vehicles in the proper lane and assist in slowing traffic.
Engineer Sterna stated that striping the road would not be expensive and that in his opinion may work to slow traffic.
There was discussion relating to the Sunfish Lake outlet installation.
Engineer Sterna advis3ed that the property owner on the lake would have to petition for the outlet installation and they would pay 100% of the cost.
An audience member noted that sewer and water are installed under the road in the area near Delaware Avenue and asked if the City would pay any damages that occur to these utilities during the road improvement project.
Engineer Sterna pointed out that normally utilities are 7 to 8 ft. deep when installed and should not be affected by the project. He advised that water maybe shut off for a short period of time during construction. He noted that these are not City utilities and any damage would be paid by the property owner, not the City.
Attorney Kuntz agreed and explained that those utility hook-ups were done by an agreement between individual property owners and the City of Mendota Heights.
An audience member explained that there is no “lake association” and asked what would happen if the property owners agree to pay for the outlet installation.
Attorney Kuntz responded that Council would have to agree to include the outlet installation as part of the project and the residents would have to agree to pay the cost.
Councilmember Bulach stated that the City had directed the City Engineer to prepare two (2) feasibility reports for this project at a cost of $15,000 each time and in his opinion the costs for this improvement will double in the future if the entire road is not done at this time. He commented that in his opinion it does not make sense to do anything less than the entire road.
The Councilmembers in attendance agreed along with several of the audience members.
There was discussion relating to the maintenance costs for the road due to the gravel surface.
Engineer Sterna commented that if the road remains gravel it could have an effect on property values as some buyers would not prefer to live on a gravel road.
Councilmember Bulach explained that all residents of the City are paying those maintenance costs not just the property owners on the road. He commented that his son had an accident on the road and was not severely injured, however, in his opinion it is only a matter of time before a serious accident occurs.
An audience member explained that her concerns were addressed by maintaining the rural appearance to the road with the proposed design. She also stated that safety issues are a main priority for improving the road.
Mayor Williams pointed out that a paved road would also assist with snow removal and would be easier to treat for icy conditions than gravel. He stated that it was the unanimous opinion of Council that the entire road should be improved.
Engineer Sterna thanked those present for their comments and explained that Council would review the draft feasibility report at their June meeting and would welcome input for residents as to whether or not they support the project and if they are willing to provide the necessary easements. He indicated that the next step could be to distribute a survey to property owners asking if they support the project and if they are willing to provide the easements.
An audience member thanked the City Engineer for providing such excellent information and documentation to those present.
Engineer Sterna thanked everyone present for their attendance.
ADJOURN: The meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk