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Homewood Hills paving project dropped from assessments resolution

The Worthington City Council, following a public hearing, approved on Wednesday night a resolution adopting assessments for unpaid charges and improvements regarding several city projects. One component of the resolution was removed following roughly an hour’s worth of citizens’ comments.

The resolution includes recommended terms for these proposed assessments: 2022 miscellaneous unpaid charges for removal of ice and snow, removal of solid waste, removal of noxious weeds and vegetation; storm sewer improvements in Cherrywood Addition; a water main improvement in Wagner Addition; a blue paving improvement in Cherrywood Addition; and a paving improvement in Wagner Addition.

Removed Wednesday were assessments pertaining to paving improvements in Homewood Hills Addition. The city hall’s council chambers were filled to capacity, as many residents attended the public hearing amid concerns about what was described repeatedly as substandard and unacceptable work on the paving improvements in the Homewood Hills Addition.

One resident to comment was Donald Linssen, who said, “I’m very disappointed that the city didn’t stop this project from going.” He described the quality of the work of two contractors as comparing night and day. Another individual who spoke was Jim Laffrenzen, who stated that he agreed with Linssen and that he was unhappy to pay “two dimes” to the city on the work instead of “one dime.”

An additional Homewood Hills resident asked why the underperforming contractor couldn’t be held liable for the poor work. Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson said this is difficult from his experience; the resident then asked if the city be held accountable. The resident also added that the nearby sidewalk be altered immediately to become handicap accessible to accommodate his neighbor; that should have been done originally but wasn’t. Director of Public Works Todd Wietzema said, “If we can legally do it, we’ll do it,” as he wanted to check on any legal issues and ensure a recommendation from the city’s engineer.

Another issue expressed by more than one resident was flooding that’s taking place in lieu of the Homewood Hills paving project.

Worthington City Council member Amy Ernst expressed sympathy for the citizens.

“We should expect more from our contactors,” she said. “We need to do better than this … this is unacceptable.”

Worthington City Councilman Chad Cummings ultimately suggested after many residents had spoken that the Homewood Hills component of the assessment resolution be removed. He said that time should be taken to evaluate what needs to be fixed and what can be fixed – and the city would then have a year to assess possible repairs.

Also Wednesday, the council approved on Wednesday night a change of zone request for property at 1923 Dover St., which is currently home to the Red Carpet Inn. The action changes the property’s zoning from B-3 to R-5 and would allow the property to be used as short-term (month by month) apartments.

In another community development matter, the council approved a request from Jonathon and Keturah Scribner for a subdivision of property they own at 370 Nobles County 5. The Scribners currently intend to build a four-unit residential at the property and, if all goes well, they may build more.

Council members also approved a schedule of fees and fines pertaining to the city’s rental registration and inspection program.

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the first readings of two text amendments to city code to comply with changes to the MS4 permit from the State of Minnesota. The proposed changes will bring the City’s ordinance into compliance with the requirements of the MS4 permit.

  • Re-appointed longtime firefighter Pat Shorter as chief of the Worthington Fire Department.

  • Recommended starting a process that would adjust compensation for the city’s mayor and council members when it comes to meetings outside of regular council meetings. The mayor’s compensation for extra meetings hasn’t been adjusted in about 20 years, outgoing Mayor Mike Kuhle noted. The city council is expected to formally act on the matter during a special meeting that would take place during the final week in October. Compensation could potentially be changed from a per-day to per-meeting basis.

  • Set the date and time for canvass of returns and declaration of election results as 10:30 a.m. Nov. 14. Election Day is Nov. 8.

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