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Road projects draw criticism

A $6 million road rehabilitation project grabbed some attention last week when a few residents raised concerns about their proposed assessment costs.

The city of Woodbury plans to reconstruct streets of the Evergreen and Whispering Pines neighborhoods with curb and gutter, pavement, storm and sanitary sewer and water main repairs.

The project is part of the city’s roadway rehabilitation plan and also includes parts of Currell Boulevard and Tamarack Road.

Woodbury City Council approved the preliminary plans at a recent meeting, where some residents of the neighborhood expressed concerns about the assessment formula.

City Engineer Tony Kutzke said 649 units would be assessed between $3,300 to $3,550 each, according to a city policy.

But the city amended that policy for the past two construction seasons due to the mix of housing types in a single area.

The old policy led to townhomes seeing higher assessments than they would have if they were defined as a stand-alone project.

So the council elected to use a 50-50 approach, Kutzke said, spreading the assessed costs 50 percent by the amount of frontage of a unit and 50 percent by the number of units of that unit type.

So for a single family home in the Evergreen and Whispering Pines neighborhoods, the assessments are proposed at $3,500 to $3,800, while a townhome would be charged $2,500 to $2,750.

Robert Mikitka said that method is “arbitrary” and the city has a “golden opportunity” to examine who really uses the roads.

Public Works Director Klayton Eckles said roads provide mobility as well as access for all properties in a single neighborhood and the city’s philosophy uses that to assess the costs.

“And there is equal benefits to all the properties because of that,” he said.

But Mikitka, who lives in a townhome, said only 12 percent of the total roads in his neighborhood are used by him and his neighbors, while the larger properties use a majority.

“We feel the matter in which the assessment is being calculated is not favorable to us in any way,” he said.

He suggested the city take that 12 percent and divide it among the 140 townhome units instead.

But Eckles said the 50-50 approach mixes the two options of using frontage and type of unit.

“It kind of moderates some of the rates for the multi-family without impacting the single family as much,” he said.

City Council Member Paul Rebholz said the city will get criticized either way if it changes what it’s been using for the past two seasons or stays with it.

“We do need to apply something that’s fair and consistent on all the projects,” he said.

A new roadway rehabilitation task force was recently formed to study issue with roads built in the 1990s and also suggest new assessment policy procedures.

However, this project is scheduled to begin this spring and the task force will not have completed all the studies by then.

This upcoming project also includes Currell Boulevard from Queens Drive to Bielenberg Drive and Tamarack Road from Radio Drive to Spring Hill Drive.

Assessments for the commercial parcels at Currell Boulevard are estimated at $20,000 to $141,200 each, according to the city’s calculations.

Commercial properties on Tamarack Road are expected to pay between $48,000 to $78,400 per parcel, while residential properties will likely pay around $500 per unit.

The city will open bids in April, hold an assessment public hearing in May and begin construction in June.

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.