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Paynesville Press - May 22, 2002

Paynesville Township approve refinancing of Koronis Civic Arena

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Township Board took the following actions at their meeting on Monday, May 13.

*The board approved a refinancing plan for the Koronis Civic Arena. The plan calls for the city and township to each contribute $160,000 to pay off the outstanding debt on the arena.

In exchange, the city would receive 50 percent ownership in the facility. The city council would still need to approve such a deal, with the item on its meeting agenda for Wednesday, May 22.

The vote for the arena plans was 2-1 with supervisors Pat Meagher and Don Pietsch voting in favor and supervisor John Atwood voting against. During discussion on the plan, Meagher, who opposes the current airport plan, pledged not to back out of the joint powers agreement for the airport with the city.

Atwood said the township could afford to pay $20,000 or $30,000 a year to pay off the debt on the arena and could refinance the outstanding debt at 5.5 percent interest (instead of six percent) in town. He originally abstained before voting against the measure.

*The board passed two resolutions to acquire property for the proposed airport. The hangar area for the new airport has been moved from the center of the runway to the east end.

The airport commission had wanted this alignment all along but only recently convinced MnDOT of the wisdom of the plan. The switch means the airport commission needs to purchase an additional 16 acres of land from Dennis Rothstein, while it will only need 0.08 acres of land (using an easement from Pat and Lorie Meagher).

The board approved the resolutions in an unusual 1-0 vote, with both Meagher and Atwood abstaining. Meagher, who favored the change but felt that he had a conflict of interest and couldn't vote, made the motion but abstained from actually voting.

The only vote was by Pietsch in favor of the resolutions.

*The board tabled action on the city's proposal to alter the joint powers agreement for the airport to include a tie-breaker for the fifth member of the commission. Currently, the joint powers agreement calls for the two city and two township members to agree on the fifth member.

The township and city members currently disagree over when that appointment should be made.

The city has proposed that, in the case of a tie vote on the commission, a total vote of the city council and township board should be used to determine the fifth member. The city council has five members, and the township board has three, but the city has agreed to limit the township's cost to $200,000 while the city could pay $500,000 toward the new airport.

Meagher and Atwood voted for tabling a decision, while Pietsch voting against tabling it.

*The board took no action on filing suit in court to settle the contested membership on the airport commission.

During the committee reports, Atwood made a motion to file suit to determine when the fifth member of the commission should be reappointed. Atwood got an opinion from the township attorney that the reappointment should be made on the anniversary of the approval of the agreement, which would be in the spring.

The new township representatives on the airport commission have made no formal effort to reappoint the fifth member, noted Dave Peschong, a city council member who serves on the commission.

"The idea of going to court is a terrible waste of money," agreed Bill Spooner, a township resident and city attorney, "because all that's going to be proved is you haven't done anything to change it."

The township representatives will make a formal effort to appoint the fifth at-large member to the airport commission at the next commission meeting on Wednesday, June 12.

*The board approved contributing $2,000, as requested by the city, towards the comprehensive plan. (See related story on page 2.) The city had requested that the township participate. The city has budgeted $25,000 for the plan, and the city (with the township's participation) will be able to apply for a $5,000 grant for the plan.

The board passed the contribution on a 2-0 vote, with Meagher and Pietsch voting in favor and Atwood abstaining.

Earlier, Atwood made a motion to table a decision about the plan again; the board had tabled making a decision in April.

Pietsch said the township could either get involved in planning or wonder what the city was doing. "I agree with Don," said Meagher. "If we put money in, we'd know what's happening."

Atwood said he didn't know why the township kept making contributions to the city and said they'd be informed whether they contributed or not. The difference, pointed out Mayor Jeff Thompson, is that the township would be involved in the decision-making process if it contributes financially.

*Meagher reported to the board on the results of the township survey. (Watch for a full story next week.) From 800 surveys sent to property owners in Paynesville Township, around 550 were returned.

On the current airport proposal, 62 percent were against and 34.5 percent were in support. On the swimming pool, 50 percent were in favor and 47 percent were against.

On high-speed Internet via cable, 31 percent would like it and 46 percent don't care. Nearly a quarter of the respondents don't get cable.

On garbage service, 61 percent like the service from West Central Sanitation and six percent do not.

On the Lake Koronis Trail, 70 percent are in favor and 25 percent are against.

*The board received reports on the finishing of work on Old Lake Road. Work on patching and some shoulder work was done last week, with the second layer of asphalt expected this week. The deadline for the project is Memorial Day.

Striping of the road - including six-foot pedestrian lanes - will be done later.

One resident complained that their property was not returned to its previous condition as promised. Atwood said the township should have had a second engineer look at the project.

*The board reaffirmed its policy on paving platted streets in developments: in new developments, the cost will be born by the developer (in the cost of the lots); in existing plats with no development, the township will split the cost with the developer; and in existing plats with development, the cost of paving will be assessed to benefiting property owners.

This policy was in the township's old zoning ordinance but was omitted when the township's ordinance was updated to comply with the new county-wide zoning ordinance.

Buyers should beware about the status of the road when buying a lot, as the developer could opt to keep it as a private road. The road would have to meet these standards for the township to assume ownership and provide maintenance.

*The board set three public hearings on Tuesday, May 28, for variance requests.

Mrs. Robert Erdmann wants to build an unattached accessory building within 20 feet of the township's right-of-way on Crystal Road. The township ordinance requires a 30-foot setback. The hearing will be held on Tuesday, May 28, at 8:45 p.m.

The board also set variance hearings for Bill Henderson and Roger Tjosvold that same night for 9 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

*The board approved billing Linus Nistler $500 for a fire call.

*The board authorized maintenance man Mike Jensen to price and purchase new tractor tires.

*Pietsch reported that he and Atwood had met with EDAP advisors to discuss how and for what the township could use the funds in its EDAP account.

*The board will meet next on Tuesday, May 28, at 8 p.m. at the township hall at 28780 Koronis Drive. Normally, the board meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, but Monday, May 27, is Memorial Day.

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