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Paynesville Press - September 4, 2002

City to keep undeveloped right-of-way for Lyndall Avenue

By Michael Jacobson

The undeveloped portion of Lyndall Avenue will remain a public right-of-way.

Neighboring landowners had asked the city to vacate the undeveloped portion of the street, which extends from where a paved street exists to the North Fork of the Crow River. But at a public hearing in July, several residents contested the closing because they use the right-of-way as access to the river.

Since the undeveloped right-of-way serves a public purpose, it would be inappropriate to vacate it, city attorney Bill Spooner told the city council last week.

While the council, at their meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 28, indicated a desire to keep the right-of-way, what to do about maintaining the property was less clear. Council member Dennis Zimmerman raised the question of maintaining the right-of-way, recalling that at the hearing in July, the neighboring landowners who requested vacating the right-of-way were agreeable to keeping the land as public but asked the city for help in maintaining the property.

Agreeing to have the city staff maintain the property would really open a can of worms, Ron Mergen, public works director, told the council, since another half dozen rights-of-way exist in the city.

Spooner while prefacing his comments as an unofficial opinion, citing the need to do research before rendering an official opinion told the council that the city likely did not have a legal obligation to maintain the right-of-way. While the city would need to maintain a street, the undeveloped right-of-way really belonged to the neighboring property owners, only the public had the right to cross it because of the city's right-of-way.

In an effort to resolve the maintenance dilemma, the city council directed city staff to approach the neighboring landowners again and discuss exactly what kind of maintenance assistance they would want from the city, in order for the city to better decide if it could provide that help.

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