Spicer council lowers assessment amount for road

SPICER -- The Spicer City Council decided Wednesday to decrease the amount it will assess property owners for a frontage road west of state Highway 23.

SPICER -- The Spicer City Council decided Wednesday to decrease the amount it will assess property owners for a frontage road west of state Highway 23.

The council held a public hearing on the assessments for the road, which is being constructed from the Woodcock Addition to Manitoba Street and will hook up with Second Avenue.

The property with the largest assessment on the project, Faith Lutheran Church, objected to its $84,751 assessment.

Jeff Johnson, who represented the church, said the church did not request or need the road. It had proposed building a driveway to have a second access to the church, which would have cost less than the assessment. He said the road benefits other parts of the city more than the church.

Frontage roads that were part of the state Highway 23 project were only assessed for curb and gutter, he said.


Allen Latham objected to the $51,959 assessment on his property because he said the saleable value of the property is less than that amount.

The city expects the Minnesota Department of Transportation to reimburse $976,616 of the $1,151,817 project. The city had proposed to receive $209,323 in assessments, $21,561 of which would be assessed to the city for its property that abuts the road.

Still, the assessment payments to the city would be $12,561 more than the city's share of the project costs.

Councilman Terry Holmquist said he's has always been uncomfortable assessing for a project for which the city is being reimbursed.

Mayor Bill Taylor said the city needs to have some sort of standard. The city's policy is to assess 100 percent of new construction and 60 percent of reconstruction. There have been no new city construction projects since that policy began, however.

Engineer Randy Sabart with Short Elliot Hendrickson pointed out that the amount being assessed and the amount the city is responsible for paying are close. He said the revenues from the project can go toward other costs the city had for the Highway 23 project.

Councilman Ron Schneider suggested assessing only 20 percent of the project costs, which is the lowest amount allowed by law.

Councilwoman Marlys Larsen said the city needs to start a fund for street projects so that the city won't need to assess property owners.


Taylor said in two to three years, the city will have completed most of the needed construction projects in town. After that, it can begin saving money for street projects and start paying for street projects without assessments, he said.

Sabart said the council could lower the amount being assessed. Holmquist then suggested decreasing that amount from $634,187 to $424,571, which would lower the amount assessed per foot from $106 to $70.

Holmquist, Taylor and Councilman Troy Block voted for the change and adopted the assessment roll while Larsen and Schneider voted against those motions. Taylor will be assessed for work on Miller Street related to the project. Larsen is a member of Faith Lutheran Church.

The council held another public hearing Wednesday for the 2006 street improvement project on Second and Third Avenues, Harriet and Frances Streets and Summit Avenue.

About 25 people came to the hearing. Some residents questioned whether all of the improvements were needed. SEH said the sanitary sewer, water mains and streets have all surpassed their useful life.

Part of the plans calls for curb and gutter on Summit Avenue, which doesn't have curb and gutter now. A few residents questioned the need for curb and gutter and said it might cause drainage problems on some properties.

The project would also widen Second Avenue from a 33.5-foot street to a 36-foot street. Some asked whether the road was being widened for a 13-story condominium that's been proposed on the street.

Sabart said the 33.5 feet is an irregular size for a street and 32- and 36-foot streets are standard. Building it to 36 feet would allow parking on both sides.


He added that the city expects that property to be developed at some point, whether or not the condo is built.

Residents also questioned the amount of their preliminary assessments, which will be finalized next year.

The council discussed whether all of the proposed improvements should be done at once and discussed the financial burden the project will have on some residents.

The council unanimously approved having SEH to a preliminary topographical survey for the project. The council will decide later whether to implement all of the project's proposed features.

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