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Paynesville Press - October 17, 2001

City cannot assess for street

By Linda Stelling

New intersection Homeowners along Lake Avenue (Highway 124) received good news at a public hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 10: the city cannot assess them for the street portion of the road project.

In a legal opinion, city attorney Bill Spooner informed the council that they could only assess for the water and sewer mains and not for any of the roadwork, which will be paid for by the state.

The project next summer will be a joint venture of the state, county, and city. The state will pay for the road work, and the county will do the work. The state has set aside $750,000 for the street improvements. The state will turn the road over to the county when the project is finished.

With Lake Avenue being redone, the city of Paynesville will take the opportunity to upgrade the sanitary sewer and water main from Highway 23 to First Street, which affects about 32 property owners. Cost of the water and sewer mains is estimated at $261,190, according to city engineer Pete Carlson.

Traditionally, the city takes the project costs and divides them among the property owners. Based on the estimated costs, the city would assess property owners $782 for water main service and $766 for sanitary sewer service, totaling $1,548.

One homeowner will be assessed only for water service as his sewer main is connected on Koronis Avenue. Another landowner will not be assessed at all as both the water and sewer mains run to Koronis Avenue.

The city will also take this opportunity to enlarge the water main in the area south of Highway 23, which will enable the city to provide better water service to the downtown area and to the Morningside Addition.

Carlson had asked the council to consider assessing Lake Avenue property owners something for the street because he thought it was unfair not to assess them anything. Street assessments are meant as a way for homeowners to contribute to the streets in the entire city, not just purchase the one they live on., Carlson added.

The ruling not to assess on Lake Avenue means four blocks along the road will never be assessed for streets. Three blocks along Lake Avenue border other city streets and will face street assessments in future city projects.

Once the assessment questions were settled, property owners asked if the road design will be changed as part of the project. The road design will basically stay the same on the north end, according to Ron Mergen, Paynesville's Public Works Director. "It is the county's intent not to widen the road, just to replace the surface and to improve drainage along the road," said Mergen.

The final design has not been finished, said Mitch Anderson, Stearns County Highway Engineer.

However, the south end - where the road intersects with Highway 55 - will see a major change. The Minnesota Department of Trans-portation has redesigned the intersection, eliminating two legs of the highway and changing the intersection to a more perpendicular angle with Highway 55.

Anderson said another change will be the drainage of storm water to a detention pond.

Father Richard Leisen asked about the location of the pond as the church is planning on expanding the Catholic Church Cemetery on Lake Avenue. The detention pond would probably be located in the area near the cemetery, but the church has the first option on the land, said Mergen.

The county's plan for a detention pond could save the city some money. The city had planned to build two detention ponds to lessen surface drainage in the Morningside Addition, but the county's pond could eliminate the need for one city pond.

The city council authorized Carlson to make more detailed plans of the water and sewer project.

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