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Council tables 19th Street Northwest cul-de-sac assessments

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council has tabled assessments for reconstructing the street and cul-de-sac on 19th Street Northwest after a property owner repeated his belief that the policy of assessing cul-de-sac lots on a per-unit basis rather than a linear front footage basis is unfair.

The council voted this week to table adoption of the 19th Street Northwest assessments and sent the cul-de-sac assessment policy back to the Public Works/Safety Committee for more discussion. The committee meets next on Tuesday.

19th Street Northwest has eight lots on a roadway that ends in a cul-de-sac. During the Sept. 6 council assessment hearing, resident Randy Frederickson who owns two lots, asked the council to assess on a per-foot basis on this cul-de-sac rather than on a per-lot basis.

City Clerk-Treasurer Kevin Halliday said the cul-de-sac policy was enacted about 20 years ago to make a more fair assessment policy for lots on cul-de-sacs because lots on the inside of the curve have less front footage than other lots on the street.

Under the per-lot policy, a 360-foot lot on the west side of 19th Street would pay the same $5,473 assessment as the other smaller seven lots, including Frederickson's lots.

Following the hearing, the council directed city staff to look into alternative ways to assess 19th Street Northwest.

Last week, the committee discussed with Halliday for 45 minutes the possibility of recalculating the assessments, but decided to stick with the policy of assessing cul-de-sac lots on a per-unit basis, according to the committee report from chairman Doug Reese.

"It wasn't that we weren't unsympathetic to Mr. Frederickson at all,'' said Reese.

Frederickson told the council Monday night that it was stipulated the assessment policy would not come up again until the Oct. 3 council meeting and he said he was not aware that the policy was on the Monday night agenda. He said it seems appropriate that he would have been invited to the committee meeting or at least have received a letter that the committee had met and what they had decided.

Those things did not happen, he said.

Halliday said a notice about the council meeting was mailed last Thursday to Frederickson but he never got it.

Council member Bruce DeBlieck said he thought Frederickson was told that he could attend the committee meeting to discuss the policy, and DeBlieck offered a motion, seconded by Denis Anderson, to send the policy back to committee. Both council members represent northwest Willmar.

"I don't think he was notified of when the meeting was,'' DeBlieck said. "We owe it to Mr. Frederickson that he be able to attend a meeting and speak when it can be further discussed. I think it should be referred back to committee for further discussion and input with the property owners from that neighborhood.''

Frederickson said he understands it's a tough situation and he thanked council members for their discussion.

"I don't agree that there's no middle ground here,'' he said. "I think there needs to be. If we know we have a problem, let's be proactive and let's fix it, even if it doesn't benefit me personally, it's the right thing to do. There's got to be a fix to this.''

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150