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Residents, businesses in line for assessment

Residents who live on Courtly Road in Woodbury will be assessed about $213 each for road improvements this year. Four businesses will also get hit with a bill.

Woodbury City Council held a public assessment hearing Wednesday, Aug. 10, where Engineering and Public Works Deputy Director Klayton Eckles said the $456,203 project will be completed by the end of September.

The Courtly Road rehabilitation project will fix up the area between Century Avenue and Lake Road, which has a Pavement Condition Index (PCI) between 0 and 21.

PCI ranges between 0 for poor street conditions and go up to 100 for highest quality.

"That means the road is very distressed," Eckles said.

Bids came in lower than a preliminary estimate of $480,300, which in turn lowered the assessment rates.

Assessments will account for $75,186 of the total cost. The rest will be paid for by other city funds.

There are a few twin homes and a number of townhomes on Courtly Road that will help pay for the project over a 15-year period at 4 percent interest rate.

"That's a fairly reasonable assessment compared to some of our other projects," Eckles said.

Additionally, a daycare center, a strip mall, Super America and Penn Cycle will also be assessed.

The city's assessment policy defines a "benefiting property" as one that "is immediately adjacent to the roadway being constructed or rehabilitated."

However, since Penn Cycle and Super America are part of the overall commercial development and have direct access to Courtly Road, the intent of the policy would include them as "benefiting property."

But the businesses don't have adjacent frontage to Courtly Road, so an "area basis" method was used to distribute the commercial assessments, according to city engineers.

The process concluded that 90 percent of the project cost for the commercial properties frontage was distributed to each of the four businesses based on their parcel size.

An appraisal was done on each business and the commercial assessments were reduced to about half of the original estimate.

But Council member Christopher Burns voted against the resolution to finalize assessments for the businesses. He cited reasons for following different policies when fixing up Courtly Road.

"The difference in assessments between Lake Road and now Courtly is still bothersome to me," he told the rest of the council.

The city originally assessed Super America and Penn Cycle on the Lake Road improvements, but did not assess the day care center or the strip mall, which also have direct access from Lake Road and Courtly Road.

"I thought that as a matter of principle when we're talking the same properties, we need to be consistent and follow precedent of what we had done previously," Burns said in an interview. "The city chose to construe their assessment policy in a different fashion than it had been construed previously."

But he added that it was an error and that it has now been fixed for the future.

"We have a very good city staff and very good city administrator and we sometimes disagree with the policy decisions that need to be made," he added.

The resolution passed 4-1. Council also awarded the contract to Asphalt Surface Technologies Corporation (ASTECH) who came in with the lowest bid.

Construction is scheduled to start Aug. 22 and completed by Sept. 30.

In other council business, the council:

• Received the best opinion an auditor can give -- "an unqualified opinion" for the 2010 audit, which was completed by Kern, DeWenter, Viere, Ltd. (KDV).

• Discussed new zoning ordinance updates that staff has been working on since April.

Janelle Schmitz, planning and economic development manager, said the zoning ordinance was established in the 1970s and has become outdated.

The primary discussion regarding the ordinance focused on the relationship between the zoning ordinance and the comprehensive plan, she added.

Most of the changes required adding certain definitions to the ordinance like cemetery, crematoriums, cell towers and residential care facilities.

Some of the items in the proposed updates have gone to Woodbury Planning Commission on a regular basis and will continue to go through discussions until the ordinance is ready for a public hearing in the fall.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.