Lanesboro City Council discusses right of way issues, alley improvements
Wednesday, March 08, 2017 11:22 AM
The Lanesboro City Council met on Monday, March 6, learning about a possible project regarding a right of way plat in the city.
Brian Malm of Bolton and Menk briefed the council on the project, noting the right of way of the road in question was “goofy,” not platted at all. Some adjacent owners possessed ownership of a portion of the road, similar to county roads, with the city having a prescriptive easement to work it. Other adjacent owners did not own the property. In fact, the true owner is not known, but the city does still have the prescriptive easement.
Malm presented a proposal to clean up the right of way, establishing the right of way and making a plat. The process would lay formal claim to the prescriptive easement. This proposal was not something necessary to any immediate project, but it could help projects in the future. The council decided to do some more research on it before coming to a final decision.
A few months ago, Malm was tasked to look at adding work on the Pleasant/Sheridan alley, which is in need of repair to the already-in-process Auburn and Zenith project. He noted the original intent was to repave and install a gutter on the alley. However, it was suggested to look at the sewer under the alley before laying the new pavement.
A sewer televising company was brought in to test the sewer. What was found was a clay sewer line with some root problems. Malm stated it was not the worst sewer line he has seen, but the sewer would need to be replaced prior to laying the pavement and ensuring a good 30 to 40 years of life out of it.
He also noted a pipe for a storm sewer from the highway also running in the same vicinity. That pipe belongs to the state and Malm recommended talking to the state to see if it would cost share before putting the pipe to handle the drainage from the highway. Meanwhile, putting in the new sewer would also open a puzzle with the assessments.
All in all, the possibility of incorporating the alley project with Auburn and Zenith decreased drastically, due the amount of work necessary to fix the alley. The council opted to drop that thought and open conversations with the Minnesota Department of Transportation before proceeding. Malm did suggest the alley could accompany the Park Road project for another option of economy of scale.
In regards to the Auburn and Zenith project, Malm informed the council there would have to be a special meeting on Tuesday, March 28, to approve specs and project plans, as well as looking into bids.
Code of conduct
During the past few years, the City Council has been introducing codes of conduct for council members, back in 2015, and another last year for commissioners and board members.
One note City Administrator Michele Peterson mentioned was that there does not seem to be unity. Council Member Jason Resseman concurred stating there seems to be division in the town, in the commissions and between commissions and it needs to stop.
A number of commissioners and appointed officials are not signing the code. In his personal opinion, Resseman related those in positions of responsibility may not always agree with each other. However, once they agreed to be a part of the commission, they are encouraged to speak their minds, but should support the commission’s final decision and not work to undermine the decision. They should understand the commission is a team and teamwork is necessary for unity and the betterment of the community.
Council Member Tom Smith will work further on the code of conduct to make it uniform for the use of all commissions and boards.
Peterson and City Attorney Thomas Manion delved into past and current documents searching for an ordinance or state statute detailing what the Public Utilities Commission authority is. Peterson stated there are no other cities in the area operating like Lanesboro. She suggested possibly writing a new ordinance that would clarify the authority. Johnson inquired into options for abolishing the commission. Manion described a few methods, but he cautioned the council that if the commission would be abolished, it could never be brought back.
Park board report
Council Member Marge Drake shared the park board report with the council noting the board was looking to apply for a grant for riprapping the new fishing dock. The council gave its support for the grant.
The board is also working on an application to obtain a designation as a Tree City for Lanesboro. In order to qualify for this, the city could need to participate in Arbor Days. Teachers at Lanesboro have expressed willingness to get students involved.
The board is also looking to trade in its current mower for a 2017 model, which costs almost $15,000. With the trade-in of the old mower, the cost would settle just over $3,000.
Fire department report
The fire department received one offer for the truck it has been looking to get rid of for several months, even advertising on the League of Minnesota Cities website. The equipment would be stripped off the truck, but the department and council approved the sale for $2,500.
Last year, the fireworks for the Buffalo Bill Days celebration were set off at the football field after receiving complaints from a property owner on the north bluff. He noted fireworks were making the livestock behave erratically and embers were landing on their buildings. Many people enjoyed the change, since they could make a picnic at the field. However, some in the downtown area stated they could not see the fireworks.
Peterson stated she had exhausted all other possibilities she could think of last year, but if there were other suggestions, she would be glad to hear them. The council voted to leave the fireworks at the football field for a couple of years. If necessary, in the interim it can continue looking for another place.
The council discussed, once again, the sewer utility rates. Peterson reported, under the recommendation of the public utilities commission, an increase of seven percent, based on the average household, would increase a monthly bill $2.22. However, this may not be the case with commercial properties. Thus, the council tabled to matter until it could see what the increase would do to the commercial businesses.
The council accepted a bid of $42 for the back rack, $78.50 for the engine hoist, $12 for the barrel pumps and $90 for the quick hitch public works was selling. It also approved the purchase of three street crossing signs. One sign cost $330.95.
The council approved lodging licenses for 2017, a parade request for Buffalo Bill Days, temporary on-sale liquor licenses for the Chamber of Commerce and the Firefighters Relief Association and a gambling permit for the Chamber of Commerce.
A community volunteer meet and greet will be held on Tuesday, March 21, in the community center dining room at 6:30 p.m.
The EDA will be meeting with the City Council prior to its regular meeting on Monday, April 3, to discuss the goals for the EDA. Bridget Harvey submitted her resignation from the EDA. The EDA also requested to transfer the title of ownership of the community center building back to the city, which was approved.
The council also accepted a land donation from property owners who owned pieces of the Bass Pond Parking Lot.