Motley City Council votes to not vote

2012 street project sent on to Street Committee for recommendations

By Tina Snell, Staff Writer

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The Motley City Council voted Monday night to send the 2012 street project concerns on to the Street Committee for recommendations.

The project area includes Third Avenue from Cemetery Road to Eledredge Street; Eledredge Street from Fourth Avenue to Third Avenue; Harrison Street from Fourth Avenue to Highway 10; Curtis Street from Fourth Avenue to Highway 10; Third Avenue from west River Road to Mill Pond Street; Morrison Street from First Avenue to Emory Circle; Wellwood Street west of First Avenue and Emory Circle.

The projects consist of a mix of commercial and residential properties, most of which are served with sanitary sewer and water. Morrison Street and Emory Circle are not, and those services will not be added. The existing streets are currently gravel surfaced.

During a public hearing, Aric Welch of Widseth Smith Nolting presented the numbers to residents for the 2012 Motley street project. Pictured are (from left): Council Members Rob Sampson and Duane Solga, Mayor Nancy Nieken and Welch. Not pictured are Council Members Bruce Mills and Steve Johnson.

When asked by commercial property owner Bill Shoquist why the city was making these improvements, Council Member Duane Solga said it is to improve the city.

“We have to think of the future, to help the city grow,” he said. “It’s easier to attract businesses to an area that looks nice than to one that doesn’t.”

“We need to have improvements in place before industry will come in,” said Council Member Rob Sampson.

Because several issues with individual properties were brought up at the public hearing, council members had concerns with moving ahead with the project so quickly.

Pat O’Regan, a Motley Food Shelf board member, said the Food Shelf does not have the $18,600 it will be assessed for the corner lot it owns. While the Food Shelf property does abut Curtis Avenue, the street has no value or benefit to the Food Shelf as there is no access to the Food Shelf from that street.

“The Food Shelf is not a business. It doesn’t buy and sell goods. The Food Shelf Board does not understand the commercial assessment,” said O’Regan.

The Council had decreed that residents living on commercial property, without a business, would be assessed at commercial rate, but would only pay residential rates until the property was later developed commercially.

“The Food Shelf is asking for the same abatement as a residential property located in an industrial location,” said O’Regan. “That $18,600 could be used to feed those in need.”

O’Regan also asked that the company doing the street improvements make sure the street aligns its elevation with the Food Shelf’s paved parking lot.

Another concern came from Mark Frisk. In about 2005, he gave the city the land on either side of Third Avenue from Cemetery Road to West River Road. He said the timing of a $34,200 assessment was bad.

“I would like to have that property back and improve the road at less cost than the city can do it for,” said Frisk. He wants to sell the property as one lot, and the city said there are 14 lots on Third Avenue, seven on each side of the street, each 75 feet wide. Frisk said that he would have to double the selling price of the property if he has to pay the assessment.

“The economy is bad, people are just hanging on,” he said. “I anticipated developing the property along Third Avenue when I gave the land to the city. I can’t sell my property now. I certainly can’t sell it with $34,000 tacked on to the price.”

Frisk said the cost of the improved infrastructure with the street’s current use was counter productive.

Sampson was concerned with Wellwood Street being widened to 36 feet.

“It’s a street that goes nowhere,” he said. “Don’t you think that’s overkill?”

Solga said the extra width allowed for parking on the street for those attending church.

“But, there is no through traffic there,” said Sampson.

The fourth concern being sent to the Street Committee for recommendations was on Emory Circle.

Mary Duberowski told the Council she had to use another property owner’s land to get to her property, which was not on Emory Circle. Yet she was being assessed for improvements on that street. She wished to be removed from the assessment role.

“I’m not ready to make a decision tonight,” said Council Member Bruce Mills. “This (project) needs to be fine-tuned. I sympathize with these property owners and I don’t want to cause a burden.”

The Street Committee met Thursday and its recommendations will be discussed at a special meeting to be determined at Tuesday’s regular meeting.