October 28, 2015

Special assessments needed to deal with road concerns

BY DANIEL ARENS
Questions were again raised at the Mercer County Commission concerning aid for subdivision roads. The commissioners reiterated their previous decision of how to pay for the work: get a special assessment of your property owners.

The emphasis on special assessments follows the tense county tax meeting at the beginning of October, where road issues  were brought up as an area of concern. The commission wants to see county money used for county roads that have  heavy traffic, rather than projects that only benefit a select group of individuals.

Dennis Rohlfs and Harvey Huber spoke with the commission about road issues for their subdivisions, Sakakawea Estates and Cabin Site #2, respectively. Both men had previously approached the county commission with their road concerns, but the  county had refused to give either project financial help. Once again, the commission denied direct funding help for these roads. Commissioner Bill Tveit said that the work primarily benefits recreation rather than commuting.

The two subdivisions are currently seeking state grants that will help offset some of the costs involved in the roadwork. The county agreed to help the subdivisions apply for those grants, but there is confusion about the scope of the project.  Engineering estimates have to be completed before applying for the grant, as specific details of the project and its cost estimate are factors in receiving the money.

Steve Reiser from the road department will send someone to look at the projects and assess the engineering scope involved in completing the work. There are people both in favor and opposed to the projects from within the subdivisions, and each group will have to determine whether the interest and funds are enough to carry on with a special assessment.

Rohlfs argued his road was in bad enough condition to warrant some degree of county help, but Tveit replied that the road was safeenough to travel on.

The commission’s attempt to put together an employee survey has been delayed due to uncertainty about the nature of how the survey was to be conducted. After conversing with other counties, the commission is looking at alternative survey possibilities that would ideally provide a more comprehensive view of employees’ ideas, and would be fair to the different departments and their particular concerns.

There was agreement that the survey was necessary, but the commission held that they should ensure the survey was  done right before implementing it.

Mercer County’s Planning and Zoning Board introduced an ordinance change, specifying that an applicant for a residence  permit has a maximum of two years to build the residence following approval of the application, otherwise the applicant must reapply. The change also took into account that an application for a residency must have a residence built on the requested property. This clarification came after an application for a residency permit with a camper pad was used to place more than one camper pad with no actual residency on the property.

A motion to approve the changes to the Planning and Zoning Commission ordinances was carried by the county commission.


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