City council...
Beek protests moving forward with airport project

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 6/2/99.

The Paynesville City Council approved taking the next step in the process for a new airport. At the council meeting Wednesday night, the council appointed Steve Whitcomb and Audrey Olmscheid to represent the city on the joint zoning board.

Still needing to be appointed are representatives from Paynesville and Roseville townships. According to Dennis Wilde, city administrator, once the board is established, they can receive help from the county.

Council member Harlan Beek questioned whether a joint zoning board should be formed until the joint powers agreement was approved between the Paynesville Township and city.

Councilman Dave Peschong felt the city and township would eventually work out their problems and the board would be formed.

"If the township decides not to join us in this endeavor, will the city do the project alone?" Beek asked.

Mayor Jeff Thompson told Beek that at this time, neither entity has decided to move forward yet. "We can move through the various steps, in preparation for the project since they don't cost us anything," Thompson added.

Beek asked whatever happened to the economic impact statement that was to have been completed. "I feel I have been misled. The study was to see if the airport was feasible...If we go ahead, what will my taxes be?" Beek asked.

Peschong told Beek that he didn't feel Beek was lied to. "It was explained at an earlier meeting that an economic statement couldn't be done because it's a public airport and not a commercial airport," Peschong said.

Wilde explained to Beek that without letting bids on the project, the projected tax increase can't be estimated because the city has no background on a similar project.

"And before we can tell how much taxes will raise or let the bids, we need to decide if we are going to move forward with the project," Thompson said. "We still have a lot of hoops to jump through which are set by the state. Another factor is that we haven't decided whether or not to bond for all or a portion of the project."

Beek urged the council to be up front with the taxpayers on the cost of the airport.

"We are being up front with you and the public. We can't be more definite until we bid the project, decide if we go it alone or not, pay for the project with bonding or take funds out of the city reserves to cover a portion of the cost," Thompson said.

"Clearly, in no way, is anybody trying to hide things from taxpayers," Councilman Dennis Zimmerman said. "When the time is right, public meetings will be scheduled according to the guidelines we are required to follow."

Beek asked if the airport couldn't be put to a vote of city residents. According to an earlier ruling from the city attorney, such a project can't be voted upon.

On a three to one vote, the council approved the appointments to the joint zoning board.

Storm water detention pond
The council discussed constructing a storm water detention pond in the northeast corner of the Industrial Park.

The proposed pond would serve the entire Industrial Park, according to Ron Mergen, public works director.

Presently, there is a drainage ditch down the lot line which carries storm water to the North Fork Crow River. The purpose of the pond is to slow the run-off to the river," Mergen said.

The public works commission recommended moving forward with the proposal, Mergen added.

The council approved a resolution to have Peter Carlson, city engineer, to analyze and recommend improvements for a storm water detention pond.

In other business
•The council approved a variance request from AMPI, enabling them to construct a new storage facility on the east end of their plant.

At a public hearing, Bob Stoneburner urged the council to deny the variance request and require AMPI to build within the setbacks.

•The council discussed establishing a policy to deal with unusually large assessments in improvement projects. Four homeowners will have assess-ments between $8,000 and $10,000 as a result of the 2000 street improvement project. During the 1998 project, the highest assessment was only $6,569.

•The rates on the projects have been similar over the years," Carlson told the council. "Does the council want to put a cap on assessments?"

After further discussion, it was decided to refer the matter back to the public works commission for further exploration.

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