By Nancy Dashwood
HOWARD LAKE Howard Lake’s Imhoff Ave. has been in the news lately for receiving a much-anticipated road upgrade and trail.
And, while that work is progressing well, according to city engineer Sheila Krohse, it may need to be changed or stopped momentarily, after a development during the city council meeting June 19.
Jim Peterson, who owns a lot in the Lake Golf Estates area (which is most easily described as the platted name for the nine vacant lots on the east side of Imhoff Ave.) had a few questions for the council regarding both decades-old and recent assessments.
The numbers in question
Peterson presented a seven-page report, detailing a perceived assessment disparity between other lots on Imhoff and the lots comprising Lake Golf Estates.
Looking at the 1995 assessment payment schedules for Imhoff Ave.’s lakefront lots, and the non-lake front Lake Golf Estates lots appears to indicate Lake Golf Estates lots were initially assessed approximately $8,600 more than the lakefront properties elsewhere along Imhoff Ave..
Peterson stated that city sewer and water to the lakefront properties on Imhoff Ave. SW were run to the east side of Imhoff and installed under Imhoff and stubbed up to each property on the lake side of the road, according to engineer’s drawings dated February 1994. Nothing similar took place for the Lake Golf Estates lots.
Beginning Jan. 1, 1995, the city charged the lakefront lots on Imhoff a special assessment on each owner’s property taxes over the next 28 years, with a 5 percent interest rate. That equated an approximate total assessment and interest charge of $19,883.
In that same time frame, Lake Golf Estates lots were also specially assessed on each owner’s property taxes over the next 28 years, with a 5 percent interest rate. That equated to an approximate total assessment and interest charge of $28,575.
Peterson pointed out that readily-accessible sewer and water access was available to some of the Imhoff lots in 1995, but not provided to the Lake Golf Estates lots, and the Lake Golf Estates lots had been assessed at a higher rate.
Lay down the road, then rip it up?
Peterson indicated that in recent conversations with Howard Lake City staff, it was estimated the sewer line is buried approximately 17 to 20 feet deep on the east side of Imhoff.
Peterson noted that in recent discussions with Juul Contracting staff, he learned the sewer line is very close to Imhoff Ave., and future homes built on Lake Golf Estates lots may require the deconstruction of a portion of the recently-constructed Imhoff Ave. and street side trail.
Peterson, who was accompanied to the meeting by several other Lake Golf Estates lot owners, said that the owners of lots 2, 4, 5, and 6 of Lake Golf Estates wanted the city to take responsibility to provide accessible sewer and water connections to the property line of each of their lots.
“Based on the facts that the lots in Lake Golf Estates have paid a higher assessment over the years than other properties on the lake side of Imhoff, which were provided access to sewer and water without having to go to extraordinary measures to hook up,” Peterson’s written request indicated.
Council asks for time to review quickly
Mayor Pete Zimmerman thought the issue was “somewhat moot,” since development along Imhoff Ave. occurred at different times.
Councilor Gene Gilbert thought a review of the early developers agreement was in order.
Krohse indicated it would be a very good time to get sewer and water run to Lake Golf Estates lots prior to the completion of the current reconstruction of the road and construction of the trail.
Councilor Tom Kutz agreed. “We need this information relatively soon,” he said.
Zimmerman reminded the property owners that the council was as new to this information as they were, and that he was “not saying cost-sharing is out of the question.”
The council agreed to get research done on the matter as quickly as possible, and call a special meeting to resolve the issue, if necessary.
Path to nowhere
While council members expressed appreciation for the Mitchell family’s memorial gift, which provided new bleachers for the Orphans baseball field, they were also concerned that the previously-laid paver path was no longer in alignment with the new bleachers.
Plans to correct the issue involved the addition of a lot of concrete, to reconnect the paved walkway to the bleachers, and ensure handicapped accessibility to all areas of the ball park.
As she had done in the parks and planning committee meeting earlier in the evening, Gilbert again provided the lone dissenting vote for the concrete plan.
“We need to meet with the Orphans and stop doing things piecemeal,” she said.
Assistant City Administrator Aurora Yager agreed. “We need to know well in advance what their plans are,” she said.
Councilor Jason Deiter wondered if the Orphans organization had a clear idea of the city’s budget for the park.
The council members agreed a formal agreement between the city and the Orphans organization was long overdue.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved the final plat for Munson Lakes Nutrition Campus, and the final plat for Munson Lakes office project.
• approved the 2018 crack seal and sealcoat projects to be completed primarily along 13th Ave. and 7th St. by Bargen, Incorporated, for $32,578 paid from the 2018 Street Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) fund.
• approved the renewal of liquor licenses for the Howard Lake American Legion and Troubles.
• approved the closure of 1st St. from Wed., July 18 to Sunday, July 22, for the Wright County Fair.
• approved 3.2 and temporary on-sale liquor licenses for the Wright County Fair.