Land deal for airport expansion approved

NEW ULM – The New Ulm City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to settle a land acquisition case that could have gone to trial.

The settlement pays two landowners for acreage that is needed for the expansion of the Municipal Airport.

Under terms of the accord, the total land acquisition cost will be approximately $860,000. Ninety percent of the cost will be reimbursed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

In March of 2012 the City Council moved to acquire through eminent domain two parcels of property for airport expansion, according to information presented by City Attorney Hugh Nierengarten.

Owners of the parcels, referred to as Goblirsch and Landsteiner, were to receive payments for the value of property. Brown County District Court appointed commissioners in each case to determine land values and damages. However, both sides appealed the decision in April 2013, and the matters were scheduled for trial. The City has been in consultation with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) about potential settlement. The FAA agreed to include the costs in its budget for acquisition of the properties as well as additional costs related to the purchase. For example, a new driveway is needed on one of the parcels.

Following land appraisals, it was determined the Goblirsch parcel was valued at $11,500 per acre and the Landsteiner parcel was valued at $8,100 per acre. These evaluations placed the total payment at $458,907.91 for the Goblirsch property and $402,075.75 for the Landsteiner property. The land values are in line with comparable prices of farm land in the New Ulm vicinity, according to Nierengarten.

The FAA will reimburse New Ulm up to 90 percent of the cost. The Minnesota Department of Transportation is also applying for funds to cover an additional 5 percent. If approved, New Ulm would only need to pay 5 percent of the settlement totals.

Nierengarten recommended approval of the settlement because it is unlikely a jury trial would lead to a better settlement for New Ulm, and it could actually put the City at a greater risk, he said.

High School Street Dance OK’d

The Council approved an exception to the noise ordinance for a street dance on the evening of Friday, May 16 in the New Ulm High School parking lot on South Payne Street. No one spoke against the event during the public hearing, and all neighboring properties within 500 feet of the event had been notified. The proposed dance will end at midnight.

Improvement Projects

The Council approved the proposed 2014 MSAS Improvement Project. The improvements are for the North Highland Avenue from Highway 14 to County State Aid Highway 29. The improvements include storm sewer modification, grading, aggregate base, concrete curb and gutter, concrete sidewalk, recreational trail, boulevard trees, and street lighting to meet State Aid Standards and a storm water treatment pond to satisfy Federal and state storm water regulations. Estimates place the project cost at $2,756,075 with a bonding need of $496,125.

Other action

In other action, the council:

Approved the Planning Commission recommendation for a Conditional Use Permit from Jaculin Rohde to operate a dog grooming business at 1115 3rd North Street.

Approved an application to erect a monument-style sign on the Martin Luther College campus facing Center Street.

Councilor Ruth Ann Webster said that the proposed monument-style sign is not addressed by the current Zoning Ordinance, and no regulations exist as to how to determine surface area. Based on the old standards the sign would be more than the 30 square-foot limit by 8 feet. Webster said asking MLC to scale back the sign would defeat the purpose of creating a monument sign.

Councilor Les Schultz supported the MLC sign, but he cautioned against setting precedent in which similar signs could be built in residential areas.

Supported designating a website for official notices. If approved by the state, a website will publish certain mandated public notices and minutes, rather than using print publications as is currently done.

Schultz raised a concern that by changing the method of notification many residents would not have access to City information. “If this does pass state wide, I hope we work to educate the people,” said Schultz.

City Manager Brian Gramentz said that this proposal did not necessarily represent a constriction of disseminating information. Much of the information now printed in newspapers is already placed on the City website. In addition, some notices would continue to be published in the local newspaper.

Authorized Gramentz to prepare specifications and solicit bids for the full roof replacement and gutter repair of the Public Works building.

Approved a development agreement with Melvin Schugel, Jr. for the property to be platted as Sarah Hills Third Addition. The property is currently undeveloped and totals 3.62 acres. The development would be located at Maplewood Drive and Airport Road. The approval of the development will pave the way for further residential expansion.

Approved a recommendation to purchase three 2014 Ford Explorer all-wheel drive vehicles from Chuck Spaeth Ford for $83,548.43. The new vehicles will replace older vehicles that are nearing the end of service life.

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