- DRAFT –
SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – SEPTEMBER 5, 2017
7:00 P.M. - ST. ANNE’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
Mayor: Richard Williams
Councilmembers: JoAnne Wahlstrom, Steven Bulach and Daniel O’Leary
City Attorney: Tim Kuntz
City Planner: Ryan Grittman
Engineer: Don Sterna
City Treasurer: Ann Lanoue
Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Police Chief: Manila Shaver
City Clerk: Cathy Iago
and Members of the General Public.
Councilmember Mike Hovey was absent.
1. CALL TO ORDER: Mayor Williams opened the meeting at 7:00 p.m.
2. APPROVE AGENDA: Mayor Williams asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda
The Mayor added Item 8.i. Discuss Application for Legacy Grants for Shoreline Improvements from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He explained that the City’s matching funds for this grant would be only 10 percent.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any other additions and there was no response.
Councilmember Wahlstrom moved to adopt the agenda as amended, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (4-0)
3. CONSENT AGENDA: Mayor Williams asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda and there was no response.
Councilmember O’Leary moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried. (4 -0)
a. Special Budget Meeting Minutes and Regular Council Meeting Minutes of August 1, 2017
b. List of Bills
c. Monthly Financials
4. COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC: The Mayor asked if there were any comments from the public.
Kitzie Nye, 2140 Charlton Road, stated that it was her understanding that MnDOT was supposed to install “roll-over” curbing on Highway 110 in order for emergency vehicles to have easier crossover access to Sunfish Lake residential properties. She also asked Police Chief Shaver if there was an emergency alert system that would notify residents about criminal activities that pose a danger to Sunfish Lake properties, such as the suspect that was at large in the recent murder in Mendota Heights. She advised that she registered with the West St. Paul Police Department on-line to receive notification of severe weather alerts, but asked if there was a similar system for dangerous situations.
Mayor Williams asked the City Engineer to respond to her question regarding the curbing on Highway 110.
Engineer Sterna explained that MnDOT had originally proposed a type “D” curb to allow crossover access for emergency vehicles, however, he noted that the curb that was installed has a 4-inch rise. He commented that vehicles should be able to drive over this type of curb. He also noted that MnDOT had discussed flattening the median near Sunfish Lane to allow emergency vehicle access and he would also bring that matter to their attention.
Mayor Williams asked if emergency vehicles would be able to drive over the curb that is currently installed.
Engineer Sterna stated that fire trucks and ambulances should be able to drive over the existing curb with their higher wheelbase, however it would cause a jolt to the vehicle. He commented that MnDOT may have had concerns relating to normal vehicles driving over the curb during peak times which may be the rationale for changing the type of curbing.
The Engineer stated he would contact MnDOT to discuss these issues and noted that there are some other issues he wishes to bring to MnDOT’s attention that he would present during his staff report.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any further comments.
Barb Tani, 19 Salem Lane, asked if the assessments for the road improvement project would be spread to Windy Hill Road.
Mayor Williams explained that could be discussed as part of the public hearing.
Kitzie Nye asked that the Engineer request clarification from MnDOT regarding what types of vehicles would be able to drive over the curbing installed on Highway 110.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any further comments and there was no response.
5. PUBLIC HEARING/PRESENTATIONS: a. Public Hearing: Consider Proposed Assessments for Street Improvement Project 2017-01 (Salem Church Road and Roanoke Road). Mayor Williams opened the public hearing to discuss the proposed assessments for Street Improvement Project 2017-01. He asked the City Engineer to provide an overview of the project and proposed assessments.
Engineer Sterna displayed a map of the improvement area and explained that the east portion of Salem Church Road was a full road reconstruction project that included drainage and culvert improvements and the Roanoke Road portion of the project was an overlay of the road. He noted that some residents questioned why the City did not improve the entire length of Salem Church Road at the same time. He explained that the City determined it would be difficult to finance the project for the entire length of the road and that the west portion of the road was in worse shape than the east therefore it could be delayed.
The Engineer noted that the proposed assessments for this portion of the road were somewhat more difficult due to the fact that there are residential properties on only one side of the road. He noted that the City determined that all residents that access the road from private driveways on the west portion of the road would be included in the assessments and the same logic was utilized for this project on the east portion of the road. In response to Barb Tani’s earlier question, the Engineer stated that was the rationale as to why Salem Lane was included in the assessment roll.
Engineer Sterna stated that the estimated project costs were on target and that he does not foresee any cost increase, therefore the assessments remain the same as previously discussed. He pointed out that the City reviewed the assessments for the Windy Hill Road reconstruction project at $6,500 per unit and Angell Road overlay project at $4,500, since they were similar improvements.
The Engineer stated that the proposed assessments for this project are $6,000 per unit for Roanoke Road and $5,000 per unit for Salem Church Road. He explained that the City’s assessment policy is based on the roadway designation and that Local Access Roads, such as Roanoke Road, specify that 80% of the project costs are assessed to benefitted properties and 20% of the costs are paid by the City. He noted that Salem Church Road is designated as a Collector Road and the assessment policy designates He noted that Salem Church Road is designated as a Collector Road and the assessment policy designates 40% of the costs be assessed to benefitted properties and 60% of the costs are paid by the City. He advised that the City reduced the assessments for benefitted properties to 22% of the project costs based on the fact that there are residential properties on only one side of the east portion Salem Church Road.
Engineer Sterna commented that due to the aesthetics of Sunfish Lake, every road in the City is unique and the improvement projects are slightly higher in cost. He pointed out that the culvert replacements along the east portion of Salem Church Road also served to increase the project costs. He indicated that Charlton Road would be the final major improvement project that would be on the horizon and that only minor road improvements would be required for approximately 20 years after that project is completed. He deferred to the City Attorney to review the proposed assessments and procedures for collection.
Attorney Kuntz explained that Council would conduct the public hearing to receive comments relating to the proposed special assessments and then take action to adopt the assessment resolution. He advised that the total cost for the project is $415,000 and the total amount of the proposed assessments is approximately $123,000 which is 30% of the project cost. He advised that the buildable tax parcels abutting Roanoke Road are proposed to be assessed at $6,000 per lot and the tax parcels abutting or served by Salem Church Road are proposed to be assessed at $5,000 per buildable tax parcel. He reiterated that Salem Church Road is designated as a Collector Road and has residential properties on only one side of the road due to it being adjacent to Highway I-494.
The City Attorney explained that if Council adopts the proposed assessment roll the property owners have 30 days to pay the assessment in full without interest. If the assessment is not paid in full within the 30 day time period it would then be certified to Dakota County to be placed on the property owner’s tax statement. He advised that property owners would have 10 years to pay with an interest rate of 4.5% that would be amortized over the 10 year period and that the assessment could be paid in full at any time during the 10 years.
Attorney Kuntz advised that once the assessment roll is adopted by Council, a letter would be sent to each affected landowner advising them of the amount of the assessment to be3 paid without interest in 30 days; he noted that a self-addressed, stamped envelope would be included for pre-payment to the City Treasurer.
The City Attorney explained that he received two (2) telephone calls with questions relating to the proposed assessments. He noted that one of the phone callers offered the opinion that residents on Windy Hill Road and Windy Hill Court should have participated in the assessments and he advised them to attend the meeting to present this opinion to Council. He also received an email from Florence Baskfield who advised she owns two (2) lots and questioned why the vacant lot was being assessed. He stated that he encouraged the residents who called and Mrs. Baskfield to attend the public hearing this evening.
Lisa Ojala, 5 Salem Lane, commented that this area of Salem Church Road is the entrance to Sunfish Lake and that in her opinion the curbing and drainage improvements were most likely more expensive. She stated she was thankful that all safety issues raised about the west portion of Salem Church Road were taken into consideration and addressed with the improvements.
Alec Escoto stated his father resides at 55 Salem Church Road and he commented that everyone drives on Salem Church Road since it is the main road through the City and he questioned why only those who live on the road are being assessed and not everyone in the City.
Mayor Williams commented that he never drives on Salem Church Road as his home is closer to South Robert Street, however, he still pays for all road improvements through the City’s portion of the cost from the General Tax Levy. He explained that the City follows an Assessment Policy that was adopted several years ago.
Engineer Sterna explained that the value of each home in the City is partially based on improving the road that is adjacent to the home. He noted that was the basis for assessing local roads at 80% since they are used mainly by persons adjacent to those roads and assessing collector roads less since they are more traveled by those within the City. He explained that residents on Windy Hill Court and Angell Road were also assessed 80% of the improvement costs for their projects.
Barb Tani asked if the County assists with paying any of the costs.
The Engineer responded no and explained that Salem Church Road is not a County road.
Mayor Williams commented that the City’s Assessment Policy is based on road designation and that the City had made some adjustments to reduce the impact on properties when it was deemed appropriate by changing to a higher percentage paid from the general tax base.
Paul Tani asked if the precedence was set when as to what percentage would be paid when the other half of Salem Church Road was improved and he noted that not many residents live on public roads
Mayor Williams explained that the designation of the road is what determines the percentage to be assessed and agreed there are not many public roads within the City.
Engineer Sterna pointed out that the City utilizes the Assessment Policy to determine which assessment best suits the project and also considers what would support the benefit to the adjacent properties.
Attorney Kuntz advised that Florence Baskfield asked that Council be advised that in her opinion in the future it would be good to combine projects such as Salem Church Road so it is all done at the same time.
Engineer Sterna agreed that would be best, but pointed out that it is not always feasible to do so.
Councilmember O’Leary explained that he attended a training session for newly elected officials and he was told by several persons in attendance that every small community should establish a fund for road maintenance costs.
Mayor Williams agreed that a road maintenance fund would assist in reducing project costs, but it may not always reduce the assessment.
Barb Tani stated it was her intent to pay the assessment in full and asked if that could reduce the costs or change the amount of the bond issue.
Mayor Williams explained that the payment in full does not impact the project costs but would reduce the bond interest.
Engineer Sterna advised that pre-payment must be made within 30 days after the assessments are adopted.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any further comments and hearing none, closed the public hearing at 7:50 p.m. He asked if the proposed resolution requires Council action at this time.
Attorney Kuntz stated that Council action would be requested under agenda Item 8.b.
6. PLANNING COMMISSION/PLANNER’S REPORT: a. Planner’s Report: Planner Grittman reviewed the following information listed in his report dated August 30, 2017. He stated that the August Planning meeting was cancelled due to a lack of applications.
The Planner explained that the Comprehensive Plan Task Force met on August 16, 2017 to review and discuss three items: 1. Solar Energy – The Met Council added a requirement for all cities to include a solar energy potential map and table in the Comp Plan and the Task Force recommended this information be included; 2. Fire Sprinklers – The Task Force recommended all references to fire sprinklers be removed from the Comp Plan, and; 3. Development Framework Section – The Task Force reviewed this section and recommended it remain the same with the exception of a few small changes and table updates.
Planner Grittman advised that he was contacted by the new owners of the property at 245 Salem Church Road who are looking to build a new home on the property. He noted that the lot is vacant with the exception of an old chicken coop that is located on the site. He stated he anticipates a formal application within the next few months.
The Planner stated that he was advised that the property owner at 247 Salem Church Road cut down several mature trees on the property. He explained that he contacted the property owner who stated he was unaware that this was not allowed. The property owner was advised that a Site Plan review application was required prior to this type of activity and that he should make application for a Site Plan review to correct the situation.
Planner Grittman explained that staff received a complaint regarding an appliance being stored outdoors on the property located at 55 Salem Church Road. He stated that he contacted the property owner by voicemail and the appliance was removed.
The Planner stated that he received a phone call from the property owner at 55 Salem Church Road requesting a final inspection on a shed that was constructed this year. He explained that staff found the shed did not meet the conditions as required in the Conditional Use Permit which states that the shed must be painted in a color to match the residential home on the property; he noted the shed was painted dark green. He advised that a letter was sent to the property owner and noted that the property owner has 30 days to correct the matter.
Councilmember O’Leary questioned if the property owner would have thirty days from receipt of the letter.
The Planner explained that the CUP stated 30 days from completion of construction, which would be October 6, 2017.
Alec Escoto stated he was present on behalf of his father who is the property owner. He commented that it would not be difficult to repaint the shed, however, he suggested that the green color maintains the aesthetic of camouflaging the shed from view as it matches the surrounding trees. He commented that it would require time, effort and money to repaint the shed and noted that the evergreens near the shed do not change color in the winter months. He also noted that the shed is approximately 200 ft. from the home and blends better with the trees. He stated his father is requesting that the shed be allowed to remain green and if approval if not granted he would change the color.
Mayor Williams explained that the CUP approval requires the shed to be painted to match the existing home and therefore requires an application for Council to consider making a change.
Alec Escoto noted that there are other sheds that don’t match the home on properties within the City. He commented that Council should have the ability to make a change.
Councilmember O’Leary stated he drove by the Escoto property to view the shed and saw a home in the area that contained a shed that did not match the color of the home. He noted that he does not have an issue with the color of the shed, but rather his concern relates to the fact that the rules were not followed.
Mr. Luis Escoto explained that he did not read the conditions of approval that required the shed to be painted the same color as the house.
Councilmember O’Leary noted that he is an attorney and that ignorance of the law is not an excuse not to follow the rules.
Alec Escoto stated that his father had done everything else the Council required and all he was asking for was an exception to the color.
Mayor Williams explained that Council wishes to maintain conformity which is the rationale for requiring out buildings to match the primary residence.
Councilmember O’Leary pointed out that there may be some non-conforming properties that were grandfathered in which do not meet current regulations.
Planner Grittman explained that if Mr. Escoto wishes to request an amendment to the CUP he must make formal application. He stated that the application requires a public hearing, Planning Commission review and recommendation and Council review and approval.
Councilmember O’Leary noted that would take time beyond the deadline originally required in the CUP.
Councilmember O’Leary moved to suspend the deadline for completion of the project to allow the property owner time to submit the application for a CUP amendment for Planning Commission and Council review.
In discussion Mayor Williams asked if there would be an additional fee for the application.
Planner Grittman explained that the application fee for an amendment would be $600 and may include additional fees depending on the scope of staff review.
Luis Escoto explained the shed is 200 ft. from his home and it would be more visible painted to match the home.
Mayor Williams explained that the rationale for requiring the structure to match the home was not to hide the shed from view. He stated he has generally been opposed to property owners seeking permission to change a condition after the fact.
Alec Escoto pointed out that another resident discussed changing guardrails on Hwy 110 earlier in the meeting.
Mayor Williams explained that the project on Hwy 110 was under the jurisdiction of MnDOT and the City had no control over any changes to the project. He also noted that changes to City approved projects are time consuming and incur additional expense for the City.
Councilmember O’Leary explained that he only wished to provide additional time for the applicant to meet requirements if an application was submitted.
Councilmember Wahlstrom pointed out that Mr. Escoto may submit an application and pay the additional costs but Council may not approval the request and he would still have to repaint the shed. She commented it may be more cost effective to just repaint the shed.
Councilmember O’Leary withdrew the motion.
Building Inspector Andrejka advised Council that he had not done a final inspection on the shed since he had been unable to reach Mr. Escoto. He explained that when he reached Mr. Escoto he did not have the paperwork necessary to complete the inspection.
There was a brief discussion regarding when the final inspection could be completed.
Councilmember O’Leary moved to extend the deadline for the final inspection and repainting of the shed to October 1, 2017, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (4-0)
Council thanked the Planner for his report.
7. STAFF REPORTS: a. BUILDING INSPECTOR: Inspector Andrejka stated that he issued seven (7) and closed eleven (11) permits in August, 2017.
1. Request Authorization to Use Contractor to Perform Inspections in the Absence of the City Building Inspector: Inspector Andrejka distributed a memorandum dated August 31, 2017 outlining his request to retain a building inspection contractor to serve as his backup should be unable to work due to vacation, sickness, disability or other similar reasons. He stated he provide a copy of his agreement to the City Attorney to review. He advised that MNSPECT,LLC is also used by several other cities.
Councilmember Bulach asked if the company charges a “per hour” fee.
Inspector Andrejka explained that he pays the company directory for any fees.
Attorney Kuntz explained that in the past the City asked former Building Inspector Russ Wahl suggested that an alternate be assigned to fill in for inspections in his absence. He advised that Inspector Andrejka is asking Council if they are comfortable with him assigning MNSPECT, LLC to perform inspections in his absence. HE stated that the contract proposes that the company would charge the normal fees required by the City for these services, the Building Inspector would pay any fees associated with plan reviews, and the contract states that the City is not a party to the contract.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if Inspector Andrejka had worked with this company in the past.
Inspector Andrejka responded no and explained that he was also proposing the same contract to the three (3) other cities that employ him for inspections.
Councilmember O’Leary asked how the Inspector would verify the competency of the company and employees.
Inspector Andrejka advised that all the employees are licensed with the State of Minnesota as inspectors.
Mayor Williams pointed out that the Building Inspector would ultimately be responsible for the inspections since the City is not named in the contract.
The Mayor asked if there were any further questions and there was no response.
Councilmember O’Leary moved to authorize the Building Inspector to contract for inspection services with MNSPECT, LLC as outlined, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried. (4-0)
Council thanked the Inspector for his report.
b. CITY ENGINEER: Engineering Activities Undertaken in August: A. Charlton Road Improvements Update: Engineer Sterna stated that he met with St. Anne’s Church representatives and they indicated they would be willing to work with the City on the easement dedications, however, the representative explained that the final decision would have to be approved by the Church Council. He further explained that the representative indicated the Church would prefer a solution that minimizes impacts to the trees along Charlton Road and did not favor removal of trees for additional parking on the road.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if there would be sufficient parking for lawn service vehicles if the additional parking spaces near the church are removed from the plan.
Engineer Sterna explained that the plan includes some “bump-out” areas for the lawn service and emergency vehicles and that he may be able to put additional “bump-outs” in other areas along the road. He also noted that the City could place “no parking” signs on the road if necessary. He commented that the Church advised they rarely have events where parking on the road becomes an issue.
Treasurer Lanoue stated she is a member of the church and agreed that the overflow parking only occurs when a large funeral is held at the church.
Engineer Sterna stated that he completed the wetland delineation for the ponding area and that he would present the report at the September meeting.
The Engineer stated that the land surveys for the easements on Charlton Road are near completion. He reported that of the 21 properties where easements are required for the project 12 property owners expressed their willingness to provide the easements, 4 property owners on the north end of the street did not favor providing the easements, 1 property owner indicated they may be willing to provide the easement with some compromise and he was unable to reach 4 of the property owners. He stated that the majority of property owners appear to be willing to provide the easements and that the next step would be to review the financial impacts and then to finalize the feasibility report. He pointed out that Council could make a decision in October or November and the project could be ready for bid in 2018.
Councilmember Bulach asked if the bids should be sent in February or March next year for the project to proceed.
Engineer Sterna responded yes and explained that the easement documents should be obtained prior to letting the bid.
B. 2017 Street Improvement Project: Engineer Sterna Stated that Council held the public hearing for Improvement Project 2017-01 and that there are a few minor signage items to be resolved prior to the project completion. He stated that the final payment would be presented to Council at their October meeting. He noted the project was completed less than the anticipated cost.
C. TH110 Intersection Resolution Update with MnDOT: Engineer Sterna advised that he received several emails from residents expressing their concerns regarding the guardrail installation near the right turn lanes at Sunfish Lane and Angell Road. He noted that the use of guardrails in these locations was never discussed with the City as part of the project. He commented that he was unsure if the MnDOT representatives were aware of the guardrail installation when they met with the City to discuss the project. He explained that he discussed the guardrails with MnDOT and they reevaluated the actual site conditions and agreed to the following: 1) To extend the culvert and add inlets near Sunfish Lane which would restore the intersection back to its original configuration, and; 2) To overlay Angell Road to raise the grade and improve the sightlines. He noted that MnDOT agreed to forward him the plans for the Angell Road improvements so that he may review and approve the plans.
The Engineer further explained that he would contact MnDOT to discuss the curb height issue raised by Kitzie Nye this evening and also to discuss the median installation near Sunfish Lane
Mayor Williams asked if a protocol for communicating with the City could be established with MnDOT so that the City can provide input on the project in the future.
Engineer Sterna explained that MnDOT is a large organization that he was unsure if how to setup a protocols for communications, however, he advised that he would continue to work with the representatives the City had contacted in the past. He pointed out that the he was unsure if the MnDOT representatives that have worked with the City in the past were aware of the issues and that the decisions relating to changes in the plans may have been made without their knowledge.
The Engineer noted that it is his understanding MnDOT would be changing the name of the highway in the future to Highway 62.
Kitzie Nye asked if the speed limit on Hwy 110 would increase when the name change occurs.
Engineer Sterna stated he was unsure if the speed would increase but he noted that some addresses would change. He advised that he had discussed the possibility of installing a frontage road adjacent to Highway 110 which would assist with access issues for Sunfish Lane and Angell Road. He described where the frontage road could be installed. He that stated that Jon Solberg of MnDOT indicated there may be funding in the future to study issues such as the frontage road and it may be possible that MnDOT would fund the project.
Mayor Williams commented that although it may be feasible to install a frontage road, it may not be politically supported. He noted that a frontage road would resolve the safety issues relating to the U-turn for traffic at Mendota Road.
D. Charlton Road Grading: The Engineer stated that the grading of Charlton Road was delayed due to the wet weather but was completed the last week in August. He indicated this may be the last grading operation for this year.
E. Sunfish Lake Outlet: Engineer Sterna stated the outlet continues to plug with debris and advised that he plans to close the pipe in November for the winter months. He stated that the City spent approximately $5,000 to clean the pipe this year. He explained that if the Charlton Road improvements are delayed, he would recommend the City make improvement to the outlet to resolve the continuing maintenance issues in 2018.
F. Sunfish Lake City Maps: The Engineer distributed the new maps to Council and explained that he had also given the maps to staff.
G. Building and Site Review: Engineer Sterna stated one final site inspection was performed at 2324 Angell Road.
Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of August: None.
Anticipated Engineering and Public Works Activities for September: The Engineer stated he would continue to work on the Charlton Road improvement project and would solicit Snow Plowing quotes for Council review at the October meeting. He further stated he would work to prepare the final paper work for the 2017 Improvement Project.
Council thanked the Engineer for his report.
c. CITY FORESTER: Forester Nayes stated he issued one (1) burning permit in August and that permits would be issued until fall.
The Forester stated he harvested seed heads from Wild Parsnip in Musser Park and disposed of them to reduce future population. He also advised he removed a fallen Poplar tree that was blocking Charlton Road.
Forester Nayes explained that future wildflower planting areas in Musser Park were sprayed with Roundup to prepare for seeding in late fall. He stated that he met with the Land Trust representative to conduct the annual walk-through of the property to insure that Musser Park was properly utilized.
The Forester stated he met with the property owner at 273 Salem Church Road regarding the removal of mature trees and to review recent landscaping on the property. He noted that the resident was not aware that mature trees may not be remove from residential property without City permission. He explained that the property owner was advised by the Planner that an application must be submitted to the City for review by Planning Commission and Council to insure site restoration occurs on the property.
Forester Nayes explained that he mowed around young trees in Musser Park and that Rough Cutt was contacted to mow along City streets and the north meadow in Musser Park. He also explained that he had discussions with residents regarding tree questions during the month.
Mayor Williams questioned if the City should send information to realtors for new residents that contains information on City regulations regarding tree removal.
The Forester suggested that the City consider preparing a booklet for residents on this issue.
Clerk Iago pointed out that all residents should be reminded of City regulations relating to tree removal and suggested that it may be appropriate to compose a special newsletter containing this information on an annual basis.
Council thanked the Forester for his report.
d. PUBLIC SAFETY: Chief Shaver reviewed his report dated August 29, 2017 and noted that although there were 3 false alarms this month, there are substantially less than the same time period last year.
Kitzie Nye noted that there are no enforceable City regulations relating to “no parking” on City streets and asked if a law could be enacted that specifies a permit must be obtained depending on the number of axels or vehicle weight, such as the lawn service trucks.
Chief Shaver stated he would prefer to have regulations to enforce the parking issues.
Attorney Kuntz explained that permit parking could be established, however, he noted there are several issues relating to responsibility for issue the permits. He pointed out that West St. Paul has permit parking in some neighborhoods.
Chief Shaver explained that the permit parking in West St. Paul neighborhoods relates to overcrowding in the neighborhoods not due to accessibility issues.
After a brief discussion the Chief stated he would be willing to work with the City on the parking issue.
Chief Shaver also responded to Kitzie Nye’s inquiry regarding special alerts for criminal activity in the area. He pointed out that the initial criminal incident occurred in Mendota Heights and therefore, that City made the distinction as to who would be notified. He offered to speak to Ms. Nye after the meeting to further discuss the matter.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if it would be feasible to request surrounding communities notify Sunfish Lake when such an incident occurs.
Chief Shaver stated he would discuss the issue with the other Police Chiefs at their monthly meeting.
Council thanked the Chief for his report.
8. NEW/OTHER BUSINESS: a. Consider Resolution Adopting the Assessments for Street improvement Project 2017-01 (Salem Church Road and Roanoke Road): Attorney Kuntz explained that Council had conducted the public hearing on the proposed assessments for the project and recommended they take formal action on the proposed resolution to adopt the special assessment for the project. He explained that the proposed resolution lists the interest rate at 4.5% and that it should be amended to set the interested rate a 4.15%.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any questions or comments and there was no response.
Councilmember O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 17-15 titled, RESOLUTION ADOPTING SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS FOR SUNFISH LAKE STREET IMPROVEMENT PROJECT NO. 2017-01 with the interest rate amended to 4.15%, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried. (4-0)
b. Consider Resolution Adopting the Proposed Budget and Setting Not-to-Exceed Tax Levy for 2018 and Schedule Special Truth in Taxation Council Meeting on December 5, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. Attorney Kuntz referred to his report dated August 30, 3017 and explained that Council had conducted a Special Budget Study meeting in August to discuss the proposed 2018 Budget and Tax Levy. He stated that Council must adopt and certify the preliminary tax ley to Dakota County by September 30, 2017 and that the final consideration of this matter would be determined at the December 5 Council meeting after conducting a public hearing. He noted that the amount listed on the proposed resolution sets the final Not-to-Exceed Levy at $563,120, which includes the General Fund budget and Debt Service on three bond issues.
Treasurer Lanoue distributed documentation outlining the proposed 2018 proposed budget and tax levy which included the changes as discussed at the August meeting. She noted that the Septic Administration amount was changed to $600 by adding $150 and $500 was added under Miscellaneous. She pointed out that the Fire Department proposed $53,900 for the 2018 budget and explained that this large increase was due to the increased number of fire calls they received for Sunfish Lake in 2017. She stated that last year the City had 29 fire calls and this year there were 39 fire calls. She explained that the Fire Department utilizes a formula to calculate the cost based on the number of calls received from the three (3) cities they provide service. She further noted that the final costs for fire services next year may be less.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if the City pays the fire costs for 2017 in 2018 and the Treasurer responded yes.
The Treasurer explained that she had researched what “Personal Property” included and explained that the State Statutes include items such as gas, electric, water mains, etc. She indicated in her opinion the “Personal Property” may refer to the electric power lines within the City. She offered to respond to questions.
Mayor Williams asked if there were any questions or comments and there was no response.
Councilmember O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 2017-16 titled RESOLUTION SETTING NOT-TO-EXCEED TAX LEVY FOR COLLECTION IN THE YEAR 2018 with the Final Net Not-to-Exceed Levy at $563,120 and to Schedule the Special Truth-in Taxation Public Hearing on December 5, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. during the Regular Council meeting, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (4-0)
c. Review Final Draft 2018-2022 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP): Engineer Sterna explained that Council had reviewed the final document at the August meeting and no changes were made at that time. He commented that formal adoption is not necessary as the document is merely a guideline and tool for Council to use when considering the City budget.
d. Consider 2017, 2018, and 2019 Deer Management Plan and Contract with Metro Bowhunters: Attorney Kuntz referred to his report dated August 30, 2017 and stated that since 2009 Council had approved the Deer Management Plan on an annual basis. He explained that the deer management committee members suggested that Council consider adopting a three (3) year plan for 2017, 2018 and 2019, which would include project dates for the hunting in 2018 and 2019 that are subject to change. He indicated that Council could reconsider and confirm the dates for the upcoming year at their August meeting. He referred to the proposed resolution and attached documentation that reflect the three-year term concept and offered to respond to questions.
Councilmember O’Leary noted that the deer population is large in the City. He questioned if the Metro Bowhunters results had been worthwhile in previous years to reduce the deer population and if it was possible to allow more deer to be taken.
Forester Nayes, a member of the deer management committee, explained that the Metro Bowhunters only have limited 3 to 4 day periods to hunt and that weather conditions during their allowed hunting time may affect the outcome.
Councilmember O’Leary asked if hunting would be allowed on his property and stated he would be willing to grant permission to the hunters.
Dave Money, 76 Woodridge Lane, stated that he had hunted with the Metro Bowhunters in the past and agreed that weather conditions may have an adverse effect on the hunt. He stated he was opposed to the Council adopting the plan for a three-year term.
Mayor Williams explained that the first year the hunt was authorized the City had to obtain an exemption to hunt from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) due to the limited hunting season. He further noted that the hunting season is short due to the fact that the City does not allow hunting when school is out and over holidays to insure the safety of children. He commented that in the past Council also faced opposition to hunt the deer as some residents were opposed to hunting.
Mr. Money commented that the deer population is so large they are eating the leaves off trees in the City. He asked why the volunteer property owners that hunt are not allowed to do so when the Metro Bowhunters are hunting.
Mayor Williams explained that some resident may not be aware of the safety issues and questioned if the proposed plan prohibits resident volunteers from hunting on the dates the Metro Bowhunters are designated to hunt.
Forester Nayes responded that volunteer hunters are not allowed to hunt on the dates the Metro Bowhunters are provided by the contract. He indicated that it there should not be a conflict if property owners are hunting on their private land, however, he preferred that the committee review the property to insure it is suitable and meets the safety criteria.
Chief Shaver explained that the Metro Bowhunters volunteer their time to the City and if the hunt is not allowed the deer population would increase. He noted that it would be difficult to manage both groups hunting at the same time and that is why the plan outlines the dates for each group to hunt. He encouraged Council to adopt the three-year plan and pointed out that the dates could be changed or cancelled with a telephone call. He further stated that he would be willing to work with the committee to research alternatives for both groups to hunt and also to review the properties to insure the area is safe for hunting.
Councilmember O’Leary suggested that Chief Shaver meet with Mr. Money to discuss the matter.
Chief Shaver stated he would refer Mr. Money to Police Officer Matt Muellner who serves as police liaison to the group.
Tom Schlehuber, 325 Salem Church Road, asked if the City had considered live-trapping of the deer.
Mayor Williams responded no and explained that live-trapping is very difficult to accomplish. He commented that in his opinion any ideas to reduce the deer population should be considered by Council.
Mr. Money suggested that the City could have residents sign a waiver to release the City of liability if they hunt on their own property, similar to what is used when a person signs up to use a zip line. He asked why residents are not allowed to set up safe outdoor targets for bow practice.
Mayor Williams explained that technically a bow and arrow are considered as firearms and therefore not allowed to be used in the City for practice purposes.
The Mayor asked if there were any further comments and there was no response.
Councilmember O’Leary moved to adopt Resolution No. 17-17 titled RESOLUTION APPROVING A DEER POPULATION MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE CITY OF SUNFISH LAKE FOR THE DEER HUNTING SEASONS IN THE YEARS 2017, 2018 AND 2019, seconded by Councilmember Wahlstrom and carried. (4-0)
h. Consider Tax Impact Report from Ehlers & Associates Relating to Charlton Road Financing: Mayor Williams suggested Council review the report from Ehlers & Associates at this time.
Attorney Kuntz explained that Ehlers & Associates prepared a report to show the tax ley impact in future years if the Charlton Road improvement project is authorized and financed with the City paying 60% of the project costs and special assessments financing 40% of the cost. He introduced Steve Apfelbacher from Ehlers & Associates who was present to review the information.
Steve Apfelbacher referred to the report prepared by him and Jessica Cook dated August 25, 2017. He explained that Jessica was unable to attend the meeting this evening and that he would present the information. He stated that the estimated cost for the proposed Charlton Road project is $690,000, with an additional $35,000 estimated for the Sunfish Lake outlet improvement, for a total project cost of $725,000. He explained that the City proposes that 40% of the roadway project cost would be assessed and 100% of the drainage improvement would be assessment, for a total assessment of $311,000. He noted that if project commences in 2018, the City would issue bonds in 2018 for the full project cost of $725,000 and would levy the assessment in 2018 for collection in 2019. He stated that the assessments had historically been levied over a ten-year period and that was the assumption used for this project. He pointed out hat the portion of the project that is not assessed would be paid with a property tax levied against all property owners in the City. He stated this debt levy, together with special assessments, is required under state law to equal 105% of the annual principal and interest on the bonds.
Mr. Apfelbacher stated that the City currently had three (3) prior bond issues in 2009, 2014 and 2017. He advised that this fall the City needs to levy for the 2017-01 Street Improvement Project which would increase the annual debt levy from $41,827 to $81,957. He explained that the annual debt levy would begin to decline in 2020 as outstanding debt is retired. He explained that historically the City issued its bonds with a 10 year term to match the term on the special assessments, however, the report outlines extending the timeframe for the bond term from 10 to 15 years. He noted the interest rates would increase with this proposal which would increase the bond issue amount to $755,000. He commented that the 2009 debt issue requires only one more payment after next year.
Mr. Apfelbacher reviewed the attachments which outlined the debt levies on the outstanding debt, and also showed the outstanding and projected debt levies for a ten-year and a 15-year bond issue for the Charlton Road project for comparison purposes. He commented that the City would not have the capacity to move forward with a project without an overlap in the bond issues. He noted that he was advised that the City spends approximately $10,000 per year in maintenance costs for Charlton Road and explained how the proposed $88,000 in debt service would be reduced every 5 years during the 15 year bond issue term. He indicated that the project could be undertaken with minimal financial impact to the City if a 15 year bond issue was used and that the City would have the capability to add projects if necessary.
Councilmember O’Leary stated that if the City uses a 15-year term for the bond issue homeowners would pay approximately 20% more in taxes it’s not much of a savings between the 10 and 15 year term. He noted that it appears the City may need the additional 5 years in the event funds are needed for an additional project.
Mr. Apfelbacher pointed out that the City may wish to use the 15-year bond issue term to retain the ability to add improvement projects. He explained that with the approach in Exhibit C, the City would be able to monitor the debt service. He explained that the hybrid approach in Exhibit C allows the City to modify the debt service.
Attorney Kuntz referred to Exhibit C which showed the cumulative impact and asked if the two other bond issues remain in place so that the City is not financing two debts.
Mr. Apfelbacher responded that the other debts remain in place and the City would not be financing two debts.
Attorney Kuntz asked if the 15-year term would limit the market for the bond sale.
Mr. Apfelbacher stated he does not believe there would be an impact on the sale or the call of the bonds. He advised that some small cities issue 20 year bond terms He noted that this is a big project and the extended 5 year term provides flexibility for other projects.
Attorney Kuntz asked the City Engineer if any other major projects are on the horizon.
Engineer Sterna explained that there are no major projects schedule in the near future, only minor overlay projects. He commented that it would be approximately 15 to 20 years before another major project would be scheduled.
Treasurer Lanoue explained that the current tax capacity is good, although that could change in the future.
Attorney Kuntz asked if the assessment schedule could remain on as a 10 year term.
Mr. Apfelbacher explained that the assessments could remain on a 10 year schedule.
Mr. Apfelbacher explained that he would document the third option he discussed that structures the bond payments in a manner to retain a more even debt levy; he offered to outline the information and forward it to Council for their review.
Council thanked Mr. Apfelbacher for the creative approach and for his presentation.
e. Consider Funding Master Steward Program from LMRWMO: Mayor Williams referred to the proposed Master Water Stewards Program and asked that anyone interested in the program be referred to him for more information.
F. Discuss 2018 Aquatic Invasive Species Grant: Mayor Williams stated that he provided information on funding from Dakota County for the 2018 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) grant to help local government prevent the spread of invasive species. He reviewed the examples of eligible projects and asked if staff would be willing to submit the grant if Council determines it would be feasible.
Engineer Sterna explained that he would have staff available to complete the grant information.
There was discussion relating to whether or not the City would have any eligible projects and neither Council nor staff could identify a project that would meet the eligibility. No action was taken on this matter.
g. Discuss Turkey Population: Mayor Williams advised that several residents had complained about the increased wild turkey population in the City and questioned if anyone had suggestions regarding removal of the animals from the City.
Resident Dave Money explained that the turkeys do not like dogs or movement in the yard, such as twirling decorations.
No action was taken on this matter.
i. Other: Mayor Williams explained that he also received information from the LMRWMO regarding grant funds to enhance and preserve public lands, however, the information was not received in a timely manner to respond with an application.
The Mayor asked if there was any further business and there was no response.
9. ADJOURN: Mayor Williams adjourned the meeting at 9:50 p.m.
Catherine Iago, City Clerk Richard A. Williams, Jr., Mayor