BAXTER -- Balancing growth issues is the high-wire act facing the Baxter City Council.
This surfaced again Tuesday when newly elected council member Rosemary Franzen requested that approval of the 2003 capital improvement plan utilities map be tabled until the council had an opportunity for more discussion on the subject. The map was tabled.
"I know people are very concerned about assessments," Franzen said.
Franzen said she was concerned about a Clearwater Road extension between Edgewood Drive and Inglewood Drive. Trevor Walter, public works director, said JMS, Clearwater Estates developers, are doing the extension themselves to the city standards and no assessments are involved. Walter said JMS can do the project more quickly compared to the city's bid process. And Walter said any projected item on the capital improvement map still will be subject to a public hearing.
Mayor Gary Muehlhausen said the city has exhausted every effort to make assessments more affordable.
"I know how expensive it is," he said. "That is why we are talking about local option sales tax."
Another joint meeting will be set with the city council and the Utilities Commission, with particular attention to large lots.
Council member Barb Wells said the capital improvement plan map needs to be discussed and the council needs to think of more options than the possible sales tax. Council member Darrel Olson said the option of a local sales tax could be two years away if it happens.
In a related subject, the council agreed to spend $3,500 on a feasibility study to get more information on costs and per parcel assessments, as well as host an information meeting with about 18 residents on Cedar Scenic, in regard to an option to hook up to city water and sewer potentially by next summer.
A proposal, which has not been finalized with costs, came from developer Tom Bercher, who intends to tear up the road and put in pipe to serve a Crystal Oak Preserve development. The option would allow residents to hook up to city service much earlier than expected. And while the assessments would come earlier there is an expected cost savings with the developers sharing the costs, namely of redoing the roadway.
If services are extended, Walter said they would also be closer to a problem area in J & O Drive. The council also discussed a desire to have city water and sewer for that area, mentioning concern for failing septic systems and weed build-up in Whipple Lake.
Since many things were discussed in-depth at the retreat Saturday, the council moved swiftly through the agenda. About 20 people attended the meeting.
The Economic Development Authority met before the council meeting and reached a purchase agreement for the Richard Dean property. The price estimate is about $850,000 or less than $30,000 per acre. No final funding source has been identified for the purchase price at this time.
The city will start second phase of environmental study on the property, now an auto salvage lot, to determine potential contamination issues and have 60 days after that to decide whether to purchase the property or not. Possible funding sources will be discussed, including options from grants through the state and proceeds from other land sales in the city.
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