Area News | Home | Marketplace | Community

Return to Archived Stories

Paynesville Press - June 12,2002

Lake Avenue homeowners to face stormwater assessments

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

new retention pond Residents along Lake Avenue may not have to pay for a new street, but they will likely have to pay - in the form of assessments - for stormwater improvements along Lake Avenue (also known as Highway 124).

A public hearing for possible stormwater assessments will be held on Wednesday, July 24, at 7:30 p.m. at city hall.

The state is paying for the reconstruction of Highway 124 this summer, but the work will be done by the county, who will receive the road as a turnback.

During the construction, the city will make improvements to the storm sewer, add curb and gutter, replace water mains and sanitary sewer lines, and will build a stormwater retention pond that should relieve the flooding that occurs on Sunrise and Morningside avenues during heavy rains and spring melt.

City engineer Pete Carlson estimates the total cost of the stormwater retention ponds to be around $257,000. The state will contribute a portion of the cost; Carlson estimated $81,000, but it could be higher, depending on how much money is left from the road work.

The total out-of-pocket cost for the city for the stormwater retention pond is approximately $176,000. Half of that could be assessed to Lake Avenue homeowners. Traditionally, the city would assess benefiting residents for at least 50 percent of such a project. At that rate, according to Carlson, Lake Avenue residents could be assessed $21 per foot of their frontage on Lake Avenue. For example, a landowner with 50 feet of Lake Avenue frontage would be assessed $1,050.

Assessments along Lake Avenue have not been clear cut. The city originally inquired about assessing residents for the street cost, and even held a public assessment hearing in October 2001 to present possible street assessments, along with water and sewer costs. Carlson, using previous city street projects as a basis, suggested $39 per foot of frontage for the street assessements.

Some Lake Avenue residents expressed concerns that they would be assessed for costs of the street that the city did not pay, and the city attorney did give the council a ruling that the city could not assess for the street cost, since it was not being paid for by the city. Since then, though, further research indicates that state statutues would allow the city to assess for the street cost. It now appears, though, that the city will assess for the stormwater pond, as well as water and sanitary sewer services.

The city also faced a dilemma on how to assess for the stormwater retention pond, since it benefits will reach far beyond Lake Avenue residents. Carlson said estimates that at least 80 percent of the water that reaches the pond will come from land in Paynesville Township.

Because the city cannot assess outside of city limits, city representatives have approached both Paynesville Township and the North Fork of the Crow River Watershed District for help.

Paynesville Township was reluctant to help, since spending general funds would take tax money from the entire township to pay for improvements that only benefit a few.

The city has gotten better response from the watershed district. The watershed district could assess everybody in the district for the project, which spread over the large territory of the district would be rather minimal to individual property owners, or form a separate taxing district that includes only the benefitting property owners. In this case, the watershed tax for the project would be more noticeable.

The watershed district has taken the matter into consideration, and watershed officials could reach a decision by mid-July.

Storm water retention ponds are relatively new to Paynesville. Other ponds have been built in new developments such as Project 55 and WilGlo Acres. There also will be a stormwater retention pond in the new Ampe-Morningside Develop-ment on the east side of town. Since these ponds were part of new developments, though, assessing the costs was relativesly easy, with the total cost being assessed against the newly created lots.

According to Ron Mergen, the city's public works director, the retention ponds are being built for economic as well as environmental reasons. Storm water runs from the curb and gutters directly into the river in most of the city, but the cost to run storm sewer pipes from Lake Avenue to the river would be more than the price of a retention pond.

Water in the retention pond will be collected and then will seep through the soil into the ground. Because the ground is so sandy where the pond will be located, water shouldn't sit in it for more than 48 hours, said Mergen.

This is better for the river and lakes, since water that runs into the storm sewer from the street carries debris and chemicals with it. Anything that is along the path of the storm water, including trash, fluids leaked from automobiles, phosphorous from fertilizers, and other chemicals used in lawn or garden care, could end up in the river, noted Mergen.

Retention ponds should help eliminate some of this pollution, he added.

The new four acre retention pond would be built on nearly five acres of property the city recently purchased from the Lobitzes, to the east of Lake Avenue.

Contact the author at   •   Return to News Menu

Home | Marketplace | Community