by ADAM GRUENEWALD
The NYA City Council held its first meeting of 2014 on Jan. 13, addressing a few issues and delaying a street project.
The council decided to hold off on the second phase of the mill and overlay project. Originally scheduled for 2014, the project will be delayed to await the city’s five-year plan, scheduled to be completed in June. The project will be revisited in during a strategic planning session in March or April, according to Mayor Tina Diedrick.
“I’m hoping to get hand-in-hand with that some public input on what we come with on our priorities,” she said. “As a council, we had a consensus we would put this project off until we have all the financial planning done.”
City Administrator Steve Helget added delaying the project will help lessen the city’s debt load.
“Part of this was to get a little handle on that as we as future project and where we’re going financially at this point,” he said. “We’re in an OK position financially, but we want to make sure we know where we’re going from here… It will be nice if we can step back from any major projects like the 2014 mill and overlay project.”
More funds were budgeted for maintenance on streets, Helget added, which should help curtail road issues.
The first phase of the project, which is nearly completed, cost $1.4 million and covered mill and overlay as well as storm sewer repairs and improvements, spot repair of curbs and street patching.
Diedrick touted that that phase was well received.
“I think it really went well,” she said. “I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback with the roads themselves and the drainage.”
The council also approved a variance to allow for a second drive-thru lane for McDonalds in NYA.
The planning commission had fine tuned most of the details previously as lack of space required removal of four parking spots and setback changes to not interfere with nearby Lakeview Clinic.
Tracey Kinney of Landform explained the additional lane would help to improve traffic and allow better accessibility through the bypass lane. Additional landscape planting will help to buffer the lot.
Councilman Jim Keller, who is on the planning commission, explained the positives of the project.
“The consensus was that given congestion in that particular area, this wasn’t necessarily a bad idea,” he said, adding drainage and grades will not be affected. “You’re not losing any parking, except for a few spots, and they’re still within code.”
Council members also approved a payment of $1,127.50 to reimburse Chuck and Susan Allison of 317 Elm Street for their legal fees regarding drainage and utility easements with the 2011 Faxon Road project.
City Engineer Jake Saulsbury explained the project incorporated the Elm Street, Faxon Road and a ditch near the Allison property. Several complications have hampered the completion of the project which started in 2011, most significantly questions of ownership and old easement definitions, according to Saulsbury.
“There was a lot of old language over new placed utilities on top of the existing ditch — there were no clearly defined easements that were in place,” he said, adding old language, which would not have a chance of being approved today, called for easements, not necessarily called that, based on existing projects.
With regards to 2014, the council approved contracts with Bolton & Menk and Jake Saulsbury for engineering services, which includes a 3.5 percent increase while eliminating council attendance fees, and with Metro West Inspection Services as building official, which includes a 2 percent increase.
As building official, Loren Kohnen of Metro West is in charge of building inspections, fire inspections and rental inspections.
Responding to a question by councilman Dick Stolz regarding changes, Kohnen explained there is a push for regulations requiring sprinklers, instead of smoke detectors. Current Minnesota Code requires sprinklers for places larger than 4,500-square-feet.
“It should be an option for the people if they want to install them or not,” he said, adding that smoke detectors remain important. “There’s been a number of people who have died of fire and smoke in homes throughout the state. In about 40 percent of them, smoke detectors were never working. The smoke detector is a good life insurance policy, but you have to maintain them to make them work.”
Kohnen added that 2014 brings with it several projects in NYA including the elementary school addition, assisted living project and KwikTrip.
“We’re looking forward to a good year for the people of Norwood Young America and the council,” he said.
In addition, Helget updated the council on the successful implementation of the computer program Cartegraph to track equipment and personnel.
In their discussion of 2014 organization of the city committee and official designations, Helget suggested some revisions of Ch. 2 Administration, Section 200 of the city code.
It was agreed Helget will update the language of the code to clarify meeting rules, use of Robert’s Rule of Order, what makes up a quorum and practices in place but not stated.
The Norwood Young America City Council will next meet at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27.
Contact Adam Gruenewald at [email protected]