by Eric Oslund
The Otsego City Council held a public hearing on Monday, May 8, concerning the environmental assessment worksheet for the 85th Street and MacIver Avenue project as plans move forward for the road work.
The city is looking to construct a 2-mile section of roadways from Nashua Avenue to the northwest corner of the E-8 school and then south to 80th Street and MacIver Avenue. The project will be funded entirely by money the city receives from the state through gas taxes called municipal state aid, and an environmental assessment worksheet is required by Minnesota law for any roadway longer than 1 mile.
There will also be a 30-day comment period for people to submit any concerns involving the project; comments will be accepted May 15 to June 14.
The proposed roadway will have to go through multiple wetlands, and the city will have to acquire the right of way from 22 properties, but it is something city leaders say is necessary as they try to work traffic away from the busier streets.
“The need here is to provide a second or, really, a primary internal east-west connection through the city,” City Planner Daniel Licht said.
This movement of traffic from the developed eastern portion of the city to the newer west sewer district would also provide access to Prairie View Elementary and Middle School, which is under construction.
“This will help avoid putting traffic out on County Road 38, County Road 39, which are already experiencing congestion,” Licht said.
Every resident who spoke during the meeting agreed that a new road will have to be built, especially with the new school being built, but there was a lot of concern about the placement of the road – especially the roundabout proposed for a new intersection of 85th Street and Nashua.
There were concerns that the construction and added traffic will ruin the tranquility of the area and that the new road going right behind the homes of Dennis McAlpine and Jennifer Geraghty will lower the values of their homes and property.
McAlpine also expressed concern that the construction will hamper his ability to get out of his driveway for work and that the proposed walkway on the south side of the road is too close to his property and could become a liability issue, since he has large equipment on his property.
The council and city staff heard all the complaints from the meeting attendees in a public hearing that lasted more than an hour, and they assured them that they looked at every possibility and this one was the best option.
“There’s no perfect solution to putting in a new road that’s needed, but we’ve done our best to try and thread this through, missing as many wetlands as possible,” City Engineer Ron Wagner said.
Lots of factors were considered, including wetland sizes and soil quality.
“Again, nothing’s perfect, but we’re doing our best to try and get that road threaded through an already developed area,” Wagner said.
Council Member Jason Warehime later echoed a very similar message.
“Unfortunately, not everybody is going to be happy with the final results, but we’re doing our best to make it work for everybody,” he said.
The public hearing was eventually closed, with no vote being made by the council as one was not needed at that meeting.
Next, the council will be presented with the findings of the environmental assessment worksheet and all the comments that were submitted during the 30-day window at its meeting on June 26.
That’s also when the council will be asked to take action.
If the council approves the proposal at that time, construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2018. The new roadway would be open for traffic by fall of 2018.