SUNFISH LAKE CITY COUNCIL MEETING – APRIL 6, 2021

7:00 P.M. – ONLINE MEETING

Attendants:


Mayor:  Dan O’Leary

Councilmembers:  Mike Hovey, JoAnne Wahlstrom, Steven Bulach and Shari Hansen

City Attorney:  Tim Kuntz

City Planner: Tom Ramler-Olson

City Engineer:  Jeff Sandberg

City Treasurer:  Ann Lanoue

Building Inspector: Mike Andrejka
City Forester: Jim Nayes
Police Chief:  Brian Sturgeon

City Clerk:  Cathy Iago

     and Members of the General Public.

1.   CALL TO ORDER:  Mayor O’Leary called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.  

2.  APPROVE AGENDA:  Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any additions or corrections to the agenda and there was no response.  

Councilmember Wahlstrom moved to adopt the agenda as amended, seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (5-0)

3.  CONSENT AGENDA:  Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any questions or comments relating to any items on the Consent Agenda.

Councilmember Hovey asked the Treasurer if there were two (2) payments for the Xcel Energy bill. He asked if the amount shown at this time included the two bills normally sent from Xcel or only one bill.

Treasurer Lanoue responded no and explained that the amount is shown twice in the document to show the amount of the bill and to show the total for the bill. She explained that normally there are two (2) bills sent to Xcel, however, because the Council meeting date was not close to the beginning of the month, she was able to include both bills in one payment.

Councilmember Hovey asked if expenditures were high due to the capital projects.

Treasurer Lanoue responded yes and explained that the expenditures include the Engineering and Legal costs for the proposed City improvement projects and also the appraisals.

Mayor O’Leary commented that government accounting is somewhat different and noted that the revenues are under budget and the expenditures are over budget. He asked if the budget could be changed to reflect the information.

The Treasurer explained that the budgeted amounts reflect the timing of when the City receives revenues from Dakota County for tax payments. She advised that the City has the cash to pay the bills.  She noted that the budget is more straightforward using this method and that the funds are available to pay bills.

Mayor O’Leary commented that there were four (4) alarm calls in February and suggested that if the alarms increase it may be wise to place a reminder for residents to be more diligent on the City website.

The Mayor referred to the Public Safety report and asked the Chief about the male who tried to open the passenger door of a vehicle on Salem Church Road.

Chief Sturgeon explained that the female driver drove away when the man attempted to open the car door and that officers were unable to catch the suspect.

Mayor O’Leary suggested it may have been a potential carjacking and that residents should be advised to keep their car doors locked when driving.

Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any thefts from mailboxes.

Chief Sturgeon stated that there were suspicious tire tracks near the mailboxes but no thefts of mail reported.

The Mayor thanked the Chief for the thorough summary report.

Councilmember Hovey asked for clarification of the initials listed under “Traffic Stop” in his report. 

The Chief responded that the initials relate to cities; WS (West St. Paul), SS (South St. Paul), IG (Inver Grove Heights).

Mayor O’Leary asked the Forester for an update on the Arbor Day celebration.

Forester Nayes stated he would be sending a newsletter on the event this week with help from the Recycling Coordinator Cassandra Johnson.

Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further comments or questions and there was no response.        

Councilmember Hovey moved approval of the Consent Agenda as presented, seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)

a.   Regular Council Meeting Minutes of March 2, 2021

b.   List of Bills

c.   Monthly Financial Statements

      1.  2020 Financial Report

d.   Receive Building Inspector Report

e.   Receive Forester Report

f.    Receive Public Safety Report

 

4.  COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC:  The Mayor asked if there were any comments from the public and there was no response.

5.  PUBLIC HEARING/PRESENTATIONS:  a. Public Hearing on Angell Road East Mill and Overlay Project No. 2021-03:  Mayor O’Leary opened the meeting for the purpose of a public hearing on the Angell Road East Mill and Overlay Improvement Project No. 2021-03 and asked Engineer Sandberg to provide a brief overview of the project.

Engineer Sandberg referred to the final Feasibility Report dated February 26, 2021 and displayed a photo of the road proposed to be improved from Highway 62 to Sunnyside Lane. He noted this project does not include Angell Road West.  He explained that the project would consist of a mill and overlay with a depth of 2-1/2-inches of bituminous and cleaning of the storm culverts as they were structurally sound and did not need replacement.

The Engineer explained that originally the project proposed a 2-inch bituminous base, however, core samples taken from the road showed separation and deterioration of the blacktop between the 2” and 2-1/2” depth.

Engineer Sandberg explained that regular maintenance of the road extends its life and prolongs the need for a full reconstruction which is much more costly.

Mayor O’Leary referred to the email received from Michael Costello, 2150 Angell Road, dated April 6, 2021, stating his opposition to the proposed road project. He read that the email states “patching the road would be just fine”.  He asked the Engineer to explain why patching the road would not be appropriate.

Engineer Sandberg explained that patching potholes on the road only lasts a few years and that the road would deteriorate faster. He advised that the scientific approach using regular maintenance of the road proves that the mill and overlay prolongs the life of the road.  He pointed out that if maintenance strategies are employed on a regular basis it is less costly long-term versus just spot-repairing potholes.

The Engineer stated the total estimated cost of the project would be $94,000, which includes a 10% contingency and 35% for administrative costs. He stated that the project would be scheduled to begin the spring of 2021 and completed by fall 2021. He explained that there are five (5) lots proposed to be assessed; he noted one corner lot would not be included in this project but would be assessed for the Sunnyside Lane project. He advised the proposed assessment per lot would be $10, 470 and that the appraisal agreed that the benefit per lot would be $10,470.  He pointed out that originally the City estimated the assessment at $10,500 per parcel, however, Council reduced the assessment amount to coincide with the appraisal.

Mayor O’Leary thanked the Engineer and asked the City Attorney to review the proposed financing for the project.

Shoshannah Baron-Palchizca, 2050 Angell Road, stated that there were fourteen (14) homes that use Angell Road for access and asked why only five (5) homes were being assessed.

Engineer Sandberg explained that this portion of the road would be repaired in conjunction with the Sunnyside Lane project.  He advised that Angell Road is defined as a “collector” street and would be assessed a lower percentage of the costs at only 60 percent. He pointed out that Sunnyside Lane residents would be assessed a higher percentage of 80% of that roads reconstruction costs because it is defined in the city assessment policy as a “residential” street.

Ms. Baron-Palchizca stated that she heard last year that the project would be assessed at $4,000 per property and now the assessment is much higher.

Engineer Sandberg explained that there was a mistake in the estimates when the project was calculated last year and Council did not proceed with the project at that time due to lack of funding.  He advised that the estimated costs before us tonight are accurate for the work proposed.  He explained that the increase was also based on the fact that the core samples taken showed substantial deterioration below the 2-inch base.  This caused the design to change slightly for removing (and replacing) more of the pavement, which increased the costs for the project.  He stated that if the project had proceeded last year and the deterioration was found at that time, the City may have had a large change order or, if it was completed without noting the deterioration, the improvement would have had a shorter life span.  He stated that the improvement as now proposed should extend the life of the road for a longer period of time.

Ms. Baron-Palchizca asked if residents can “write-off” the costs.

Mayor O’Leary explained that the City usually allows residents to spread the cost over a 10-year period of time with a minimum interest payment.  He noted that because the Engineer had attended a seminar that recommended core samples be taken when estimating road improvements, the City found the deterioration of the road base and will take samples prior to any future road improvement projects as standard practice going forward.

Ms. Baron-Palchizca asked what the cost would be without cleaning the culverts on the road.

Engineer Sandberg stated that there are three (3) culverts and that the cost to clean them would be $3,000.

Attorney Kuntz explained that Council would be considering four (4) public improvements: Sunnyside Lane, Angell Road, Zehnder Road and Grieve Glen Lane, and that staff proposes to bid all four (4) road improvements as one combined project with one contractor performing all the work.  He stated that the City would have two potential sources for funding the City’s portion of the project; 1. City reserve funds, or; 2. Bonding the City’s portion of the costs.  He advised that Ehlers & Associates would work with the City Treasurer to discuss and present the financing options at a future meeting.  He stated that assessments are usually amortized over 10 years for collection, with an interest rate of 1 or 2 percent over the bond interest.  He stated that the City would hold four (4) separate assessment hearings in September and that notice would be sent to property owners with the proposed assessment amount.  He noted that the first installment payment would be paid in 2022 and that the property owner will have the option to pay the full amount within 30 days with no interest or in any year thereafter the full amount could be paid with interest only for the year in which the balance is paid.

Mayor O’Leary opened the meeting for comments from the public.


Johan Erikson, 2092 Angell Road, asked if the road must be improved at this time and what happens it if is left as is.

Engineer Sandberg stated that it is an option for the City to leave the road as is, however, Grieve Glen Lane was delayed for a few years and the maintenance costs to keep that road in a condition for safe travel have proven to be very high.  The road requires a full reconstruction, but will save the city and residents money in the long term due to lower maintenance costs.  Engineer Sandberg stated again that regular programmed maintenance on roadways has proven to be more cost-effective and extends the life of the roadways than not doing regular maintenance.

Mr. Erikson asked if the assessment would be spread over 10 years or if it could be paid in full.

Mayor O’Leary explained that normally the City allows an assessment to be paid over 10 years with minimum interest or paid in full within 30 days after the assessments are approved for the project.

Mr. Erikson stated that the road seems fine to him, but if staff and the City believe it needs to be repaired that would be the way to go.


Mayor O’Leary explained that the City Engineering staff reviews and rates every road in the City annually and then prioritizes the city roadways and prepares a 5 year Capital Improvement Plan to determine when road improvements need to be done.  He commented that he noticed in other cities that when improvements are delayed, the roads deteriorate faster. He explained that Sunfish Lake is trying to keep road maintenance up-to-date in order to keep costs low and not create unsafe road conditions.

Mr. Erikson asked how long the project would take to complete.

Engineer Sandberg explained it should not be an extended period of time (less duration than a full-reconstruction project) and that he would hold a neighborhood meeting with residents prior to beginning the project.


Ms. Baron-Palchizca asked how long the road repairs would last once the project is completed.


Engineer Sandberg stated that roadway life-span is dependent upon many factors, including weather (freeze-thaw cycles), traffic loading, and timing of regular maintenance.  A roadway is generally expected to last 20-30 years before a full-reconstruction is required.  He explained that the City would continue to do programmed regular maintenance (crack-sealing, seal-coating, etc.) to the road during that would not be assessed to property owners.

Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further questions or comments from the public and there was no response.  He asked for Council action to close the public hearing.

Councilmember Wahlstrom moved to close the public hearing at 7:41 p.m., seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)

The Mayor asked if Council had any further questions on the proposed project and, hearing no response, asked Council for formal action to order the project.

Councilmember Hansen moved to adopt Resolution NO. 21-22 titled, A RESOLUTION ORDERING SUNFISH LAKE CITY PROJECT NO. 2021-03 (ANGELL ROAD MILL & OVERLAY PROJECT), seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried.     (5-0)

b.   Public Hearing on Grieve Glen Lane Reconstruction Project No. 2021-04:   Mayor O’Leary opened the meeting at 7:42 p.m. for the purpose of a public hearing on the Grieve Glen Lane Reconstruction Improvement Project No. 2021-04 and asked Engineer Sandberg to provide a brief overview of the project.

Engineer Sandberg referred to the final Feasibility Report dated February 26, 2021 and displayed a photo of the road proposed to be improved.  He noted that the project would include a full depth reconstruction of the street and cleaning of the storm culverts.  He advised the estimated cost of the project is $166,230, which includes a 10% contingency and 35% for administrative costs. He stated that the project would be scheduled to begin the spring of 2021 and completed by fall 2021. He stated that the road is classified as a “residential” street and that the residents would be assessed 80% of the costs and the City would pay 20 percent of the cost.

The Engineer stated that there are seven (7) benefitted properties proposed to be assessed $19,000 per parcel. He advised that the benefit analysis completed by the appraiser showed an additional benefit of $24,000 per parcel after the improvement, which is well above the $19,000 proposed for assessment by the City.

Mayor O’Leary thanked the Engineer and asked the City Attorney to review the financing for the project.

Attorney Kuntz explained that the financing would be similar to the previous project and that the recommendation would be to amortize the assessment over 10 years for collection with an interest rate of 1 or 2 percent over the bond interest.   He stated that residents could pay the full amount within 30 days or prior to the end of the year without interest or pay the remaining amount within any year thereafter with interest only for the year in which it is paid. He advised that this is defined as a “residential” street and, therefore, residents are assessed 80% of the cost and the City pays 20% of the cost.

Mayor O’Leary thanked the City Attorney and opened the meeting for comments from the public.

Steve Shaller, 6 Grieve Glen Lane, noted that the estimated cost is $166,000, however, the bids have not been let and pricing for materials has increased substantially. He asked if the City would still require the residents to pay 80% of the assessment costs if the project bids are substantially higher.

Attorney Kuntz explained that Council has the authority to make that determination after receiving the bids, however, in the past the City has not deviated from the adopted assessment policy.

Mayor O’Leary asked if there were any further comments from the public and, hearing no response, asked Council to take action to formally close the public hearing.

Councilmember Wahlstrom moved to close the public hearing at 7:52 p.m., seconded by Councilmember Hansen and carried. (5-0)


The Mayor asked if there were any further questions from Council and, hearing none, asked Council to take formal action to order the improvement.

Councilmember Hovey moved to adopt Resolution No. 21-23 titled, A RESOLUTION ORDERING SUNFISH LAKE CITY PROJECT NO. 2021-04 (GRIEVE GLEN LANE RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT), seconded by Councilmember Bulach and carried. (5-0)

 

Engineer Sandberg asked to add some additional comment about the four road projects.  He explained that initially staff wanted to get the bids out earlier in the year and that staff in his engineering firm that have done so are reporting that bids let early in the year have come back very high.  He commented that because these bids are going out a little later in the year, contractors may have less to do during the summer months and this may reduce the bid amounts.  Engineer Sandberg stated that we really will not know until we advertise and get the bids back, and wanted to caution the City Council that the bidding atmosphere due to COVID is very unpredictable right now.

Mayor O’Leary asked if the City could delay the project for one year if the bids are too high and if the City would have to go through this process again.

Attorney Kuntz explained that staff inserted language into both resolutions that allows the City to let the contract for these projects no later than three (3) years after their adoption so that the City does not have to go through the entire process again. 


6.  PLANNER’S REPORT:  a. Planner’s Report:  Planner Ramler-Olson reviewed the following information listed in his report dated April 6, 2021 and explained that staff visited the property at 100 Windy Hill Road to meet with the property owner’s builder and contractors in preparation of a major site and building plan review for building a new home on the lot.  He stated that a conceptual plan was presented at the site visit, however, staff had concerns relating to the amount of grading and the siting of the improvements that would result in removal of many significant trees.  Staff will continue to work with the applicant on this application.

The Planner stated that staff had a request to install a security gate on the property at 369 Salem Church Road and also to install a beach blanket along the shoreline of the lot.  He explained that he spoke with the DNR Area Hydrologist regarding the request and received information describing standards for beach blankets along lakes.  He noted that he also conferred with the City Engineer regarding the proposed request.

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that the March 10 hail storm brought out door-to-door solicitation from contractors and that he found the regulations for Solicitors in Section 610 of the City Code. He indicated that the language in the Code may be subject to interpretation as to whether or not a permit is required for certain types of solicitation.

Mayor O’Leary asked the City Attorney for his opinion regarding Section 610 of the City Code and asked if the language should be enhanced.

Attorney Kuntz stated he could not answer that question this evening and that he would review Section 610.

The Mayor asked the Planner to follow-up with the City Attorney to determine if the language needs to be changed. 

Planner Ramler-Olson stated that he spoke with a builder working on behalf of the property owner at 410 Salem Church Road who is interested in building a detached garage on the property in addition to an attached garage on the site.  He noted that the proposed size of the structure only requires a Minor Site Plan review.

The Planner stated he was in contact with parties interested in purchasing the properties at 4 Sunfish Lane and 15 Sunnyside Lane, both of which are under common ownership.  He noted that 4 Sunfish Lane is a vacant lot, while 15 Sunnyside Lane contains a single-family home. He stated the conversation related to whether or not the vacant lot was developable or must remain as is.

Planner Ramler-Olson advised that he had discussions relating to the following properties:

1)  2158 Charlton Road – Discussion regarding installation of a new pool

2)  2 Sunfish Lane – Building finishing construction and needs to submit as-builts prior to final site visit.

The Planner noted that the Planning Commission held a public hearing to review a Major Site and Building plan review and Conditional Use Permit application for construction of a new home to be built on the Riley property, Lot 2, Block 1, Windy Hill. He explained that the applicant contacted him to advise that he had come up against rising construction costs and may reduce the plans previously submitted. He advised the applicant that they must go through the application process if new plans are to be submitted.

Council thanked the Planner for his report.

7.  ENGINEER’S REPORT:  1. Engineering Activities Undertaken in March:     A.  Angell Road Feasibility Study and B.  Grieve Glen Lane Feasibility Study:  Engineer Sandberg referred to his report dated March 25, 2021 and stated that these items were discussed under the public hearing earlier in the meeting.

2.  Building and Site review in the Month of March:  The Engineer stated that staff conducted reviews for the following properties in March:

1 Windy Hill – Staff reviewed the Major Site and Building Plan and CUP request for this property. Staff met with the architects and project representative on site to review concept plans; no formal application was submitted at this time.

2 Sunfish Lane – Staff reviewed the as-built survey for the improvements to ensure they were constructed per approved plans; once the plans are approved the Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.

2150 Charlton Road – Staff continues to work with the homeowner on as-built issues.

3.    Public Works Activities Undertaken in the Month of March:  a. One snow event required clearing and salting in March.

4.   Anticipated Engineering and Public Works Activities for April:   A. Staff will work with the snowplow contractor to keep roads clear and safe if there are further snow events. 

B.  Staff will work with the snowplow contractor to have City roads swept in April or May. He noted that the road sweeping was included in the snowplowing contract and would be done at no additional cost for the City.

Engineer Sandberg explained that he received a call from a resident expressing concerns regarding contractor vehicles parking along Salem Church Road in relation to a new home being built.  He stated that the vehicles were from the construction site where the property owner had submitted an “off-street” parking plan to the City. He advised that he told the contractors to move their vehicles off the street and that the police would issue tickets if another complaint was received.  The builder was cooperative and immediately addressed the issue.

Council thanked the Engineer for his report.


8.  NEW/OTHER BUSINESS:  a. Discuss Installation of Barricade at 32 W 55th Street:  Mayor O’Leary explained that the property at 32 W 55th Street was recently purchased by Jim and Jeannine Nayes and they have been working hard to clean up this site.  He stated that the adjacent property owners have expressed concerns regarding the use of the site by drug-dealers. He noted that the Nayes advised him that while they were working to clean up the property there were several cars that drove into the site.  He further explained that a resident who lives in the area had also reported a trailer was stolen from their driveway.

The Mayor stated that he had discussions with the Nayes and the pastors from both churches in the area regarding the installation of a barricade to block access to the site.  He advised that the pastors from Southside Baptist and First Calvary Baptist church agree that a barricade would deter vehicles from using the site.  He noted that the pastor from Southside Baptist Church offered to install a security light in the area of the barricade that could be attached to an electric pole on the church property. He further explained that the Police and Fire Department could be given a code to access the barrier in the event of an emergency situation.

Mayor O’Leary stated that it appears the road is owned by the State of Minnesota and the City Attorney indicated the City does not have the authority to barricade the road until it is turned-back from the State, which could take 12 to 18 months to accomplish.

Attorney Kuntz explained that he had researched the history of the road and found that it had been in existence since 1928. He noted that he reviewed aerial photos of the area and that the road did not end in a cul-de-sac in 1937, however, the cul-de-sac at the end of the road appears during the construction of I-494 in the 1980’s.  He noted that there was a temporary bridge constructed that went across I-494 which was removed and replaced with the cul-de-sac after construction of the freeway was completed.

The Attorney explained that no title search for the road had been done at this time. He noted that it appears that the Nayes gain access to their property off the cul-de-sac and that the road to their parcel abuts First Calvary Baptist Church. He noted that it does not appear that Southside Baptist Church gains access from the road due to the difference in elevation of the road adjacent to their parcel of land.

Attorney Kuntz stated that if the City vacates a portion of the road and allows a barricade to be installed, it would be appropriate to request that the adjacent property owners execute a waiver and covenant not to sue the City for blocking the street which provides access to their property and acknowledges they have access to a public street. He questioned if it would be necessary to vacate the street given the fact that the barricade would deter the traffic and the Nayes would agree to maintain the portion of the road that lies beyond the barricade.

Mayor O’Leary pointed out that the City has paid to maintain this road for a number of years when it should have been maintained by the State of Minnesota. He advised that both pastors have indicated they would provide a quit claim deed to the Nayes for their portion of the road if it is vacated.

There was a lengthy discussion regarding possible scenarios for vacating the road and what portions would be maintained by the City or the property owners.

Councilmember Bulach suggested that the City vacate the entire road versus only a portion of the road and then maintenance would be the responsibility of the property owners.

Attorney Kuntz asked if the Fire Department had been contacted to ask if they had concerns with a barricade.

Chief Sturgeon stated he would contact the Fire Department and report back to Council at the next meeting. He noted that there are other properties in Sunfish Lake that have barricades, therefore he did not foresee any issues with this installation.

Councilmembers Hovey, Wahlstrom and Hansen agreed that it would be more appropriate to vacate the entire road.

Mayor O’Leary suggested that the Churches and the Nayes could work out details of maintaining the road.

Attorney Kuntz suggested that the City could accommodate a meeting of the landowners but not take a position on the matter.

Mayor O’Leary agreed that the City should only act as a mediator during the meeting.

Councilmember Hovey indicated that the barricade may stop vehicles from driving down the road, but it may not stop drug dealers from walking to get to the property.

Mayor O’Leary explained that the Nayes have done a good job of clearing the site so that there is no longer substantial vegetation to hide anyone attempting to access the property.

Attorney Kuntz asked who would own the barricade and who would maintain it.

Mayor O’Leary stated that the Nayes would own and maintain the barricade. He asked if there was any further discussion and there was no response.

Mayor O’Leary moved to direct the City Attorney to prepare a quit claim deed and a covenant/waiver not to sue the City for the property owners adjacent to West 55th Street to sign and to commence discussions with the property owners relating to ownership of the road and maintenance if the City takes action to vacate it, seconded by Councilmember Hansen.

 

In discussion, Councilmember Hovey asked for an explanation of how to proceed with vacation of the road.

Mayor O’Leary explained that the City Attorney would prepare a resolution requesting the State of Minnesota to turn back the road to the City, which could take 12 to 18 months to accomplish.  He stated that once the road is turned back to the City, Council would consider vacating the road and which properties would have ownership.

Councilmember Hovey asked if the Attorney should be directed to begin this process.

Mayor O’Leary suggested that it may be more appropriate to wait until after the meeting between the landowners has been completed so that the questions regarding ownership and maintenance of the road can be addressed.

Mayor O’Leary asked if there was any further discussion and, hearing none, called the question.


Motion carried. (5-0)

Mayor O’Leary stated that a meeting could be scheduled with the Nayes and the church pastors as soon as the quit claim deed, waivers and covenants are prepared by the City Attorney.

Councilmember Bulach commented that the Council would have another chance to review the matter after the meeting.

B.  Other:  Mayor O’Leary asked if there was any further business and there was no response.


9.  ADJOURN:   Mayor O’Leary moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m.


____________________________                                 ________________________________

Catherine Iago, City Clerk                                                  Dan O’Leary, Mayor

We are a small community proud of our heritage and committed to the preservation of our pristine, rural character. We cherish our privacy, yet know we are part of a thriving Dakota County and the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. With these partnerships in mind, we strive to preserve that unique spirit which is Sunfish Lake, Minnesota.