BAXTER — For Baxter City Council members a joint project to rebuild Inglewood Drive to a 10-ton capacity offers a cost savings but only works with annexation.
Council members have considered the Inglewood Drive project for weeks. Baxter has boiled it down to two options. The city can upgrade the road to a wider, stronger 10-ton design with 4-foot paved shoulders with annexation of abutting parcels or it can do a mill-and-overlay of the existing road.
The county is planning to improve the street that is in Unorganized Territory next year. Baxter could partner with the county for the project to save money and get a stronger road, but if the surrounding parcels are not in the city limits, the city cannot assess the cost back to benefiting landowners. The city would have to sit on those costs until properties were brought into the city limits, with a sunset on that option after 30 years.
City costs for the Inglewood Drive project north of Woida Road are estimated to be $41,850 for the overlay only or $151,417 for the 10-ton road design with the paved shoulders. The city estimated the soft costs with the county providing the design and construction engineering may add up to $67,000 with the county assuming all of that cost. For the road construction itself, the county portion of the 10-ton road could be $289,717. With the overlay only, the county portion is expected to be $113,150.
The city reported Inglewood Drive, north of the water tower and most of the surrounding parcels are not in the city limits.
Through several discussions, council members were seemingly divided on the question of annexation and concerned the new road may have to be dug up for future utilities or stormwater extension.
Tuesday, the council heard utilities could be installed with minimal future effects to any road improvements through directional boring 6 or 8 feet deep and an additional 10-foot utility easement outside of the road right-of-way.
Public Works Director Trevor Walter suggested the four residential projects in the center of the project, which are all 5 acres or larger, could be zoned to allow them to stay on wells and septic systems.
Council member Jim Klein said he was torn as he wanted to see the 10-foot road an annexation all the way out to County Road 77. Klein also talked about annexing Peace Road with nearly a dozen homes. Council member Rob Moser spoke at previous meetings against annexation not sought by the property owners.
Council member Todd Holman supported the 10-ton road design and said the position was enforced after hearing alternatives for utilities wouldn’t impact the road. Now, Holman said, the county will be asked to support the annexation option.
Mayor Darrel Olson said it was a tough decision as he was torn between not wanting to do it and having a road that needed improvement with a chance to leverage additional dollars to get the project done.
Olson said if the county is opposed to orderly annexation, the city will have to reconsider. If the city council and county board agree to an orderly annexation, a public hearing would not be required. But Olson said that doesn’t preclude the city from hosting an informational meeting to explain its position. A meeting would be expected if the annexation was forced, but additional requirements for that option would likely derail the county’s time line for construction.
Moser said it was a great joint project but he was bothered by annexing property and then turning around and assessing the property owners who weren’t asking to be brought into the city limits.
“The road definitely needs something done,” Moser said. “But that’s the part I struggle with.”
In the end the council voted to have staff move forward with the 10-ton road design on Inglewood from Woida to County Highway 77 and approach the county with a request to develop an orderly annexation.