Fence issues, dump site discussed at Roland council meeting

Todd Thorson, Staff Writer, tthorson@storycityherald.com

The Roland City Council met at the Community Center in Roland last Wednesday night for its regular meeting. Aside from the regular department reports, the council also heard a couple issues regarding fences, as well as a dump site problem occurring on private property. Engineer Forrest Aldrich of Veenstra & Kimm was also present to discuss possible future water plant options (see accompanying story). And City Attorney Tom Wynia was present for a closed session with council members concerning litigation issues related to the remaining easement for the upcoming Samson Street Sanitary Sewer Project.

Harold Hovick gave a report on behalf of the Streets Department. He said Hall’s Backhoe was to have the storm sewer collection line on Ryan’s Circle, including the curbs and intakes, completed by the end of last week.

Council member Larry Ford also asked Harold about junk pieces being piled near the curb and traveled portion of a property located on Samson Street. The junk included an old dishwaster and some furniture. Harold was’t sure how long the junk had been there, but stated that “we’ll see what happens on Friday (Aug. 5), and if it’s not been picked up by then, we’ll have to send them a letter”.

The junk has since been removed from the property as of last weekend.

Water/Wastewater Superintendent Nathan Hovick reported that the Poplar Street portion of the water main project will be done as soon as test results are back. Following that the National Street part will take place. He also said that work has commenced on a manhole at Poplar and Park, with the one on Duea Circle now completed as well. There is also one more manhole scheduled to be done on Park, and two more on Cottonwood, which would be part of Nathan’s projects for this fall.

In addition, Nathan reported that Central Iowa Televising has completed the manhole-to-manhole liner on Locust.

“I saw the video of it and it basically looks like a new pipe inside now,” he said. “It was right at $25,000 to do a block, so it’s nothing that we can do a whole lot of a year, but I’d like to keep trying to do a block a year until they do have a chance to do a bigger section. I’ll keep working with them to find bad sections to do that.”

In other water/wastewater issues, Iowa Automation is still working on the controllers at the lift station, and should be finished in about a week.

And finally, Nathan brought up a concern about the brush pile in Lon Strum’s field. People have been taking their brush and broken up concrete to his brush site, apparently thinking it’s a city dump site. Strum has requested the city put up a fence to prevent the dumping from occurring. The city owns the property adjacent to Strum’s property, so there was speculation that perhaps some people don’t realize that the site is on private property.

The council discussed with Nathan the need for a possible fence or some type of signage to deter future dumping at the site. There was a fence there at one time, but it has since been taken down. Council member Ford asked about putting up a temporary snow fence, but Nathan thought the problem may persist and become a long term issue. Strum plans to burn what brush he does have on his property, so the city does not need to remove any of it. The area leading into Strum’s property apparently is open, which has prompted the broken up concrete to become a problem.

Nathan questioned if it’s the city’s responsibility to keep people out of private property, since the pile is not located on city property. Mayor Jerry Balmer suggested a sign of some type, or even a fence, and also stated that the people dumping might not be aware that the site is on private property, and it could be an “honest mistake”.

Attorney Wynia agreed that a sign would be appropriate - i.e. “Private Property - Do Not Trespass” or “No Dumping”.

“Most agencies put these types of signs up,” Wynia said, “eventhough it’s not their responsibility to be good neighbors.”

After the extended discussion, the council agreed that a couple of signs would be appropriate.

In a related fence matter, the council also discussed a non-compliance fence at 102 West Maple that was recently put up without approval. The residents, who are renters of the property, have since put up an addition as well that was not approved with a building permit or approved by the owners. Council decided to pass the issue on to the city’s building inspector, Jason Van Ausdall, before taking any further action. The city’s code of ordinances pertaining to building codes and fences was also brought up in the discussion and will be discussed further following the building inspector’s findings.

In other business, the council:

—approved the agreement between the city and the Roland Area Development Corporation (RADC) to take over the Community Center at 208 North Main Street from the RADC. The city will purchase the building for $1 and also assume maitenance, scheduling, leasing and all other obligations associated with the facility. The RADC will agree to provide all financial statements for accounts held and controlled by the RADC to the city on a monthly basis. Also included in the agreement is a real estate transfer from the RADC to the city for property located at “the east 125 feet of lots 3 in Roland Industrial Park II”, to be used for parking at Britson Park.

—approved pay request #5 from J & K Construction in the amount of $14,250 for work and materials on-site to install the control panel in conjunction with the wastewater lift station project.

—approved Mayor Balmer’s recommendation of Bob Harestad to the Roland Library Board.

—went into closed session at approximately 6:45 p.m. under Iowa Code 21.5 (1) (c) to discuss the remaining easement and strategies with City Attorney Wynia concerning litigation presently under way, and where litigation may be imminent, and whether its disclosure would likely prejudice or disadvantage the government. The session lasted 30 minutes.

—aggreed to move forward with the eminent domain process by offering the amount recommended by Wynia in the closed session. The offer will be mailed and Wynia will meet with the remaining property owner.

—under the Mayor’s comments portion of the meeting, the council discussed possible threats to city employees and security options available, including office cameras and body cams for employees. The most recent threat came from the posting of 24-hour utility disconnect notices.