Zimmerman property owners, city reach settlement in land dispute

by Heather Reinhart
Contributing Writer
The city of Zimmerman has accepted a settlement offer in the case of Dank vs. City of Zimmerman, with the plaintiff dismissing all claims against the city and the city dismissing its counterclaim against the plaintiff.
Steven and Sandra Dank filed suit against the city of Zimmerman in 2016 alleging that a portion of the Isle Road right of way had been abandoned and should be in the possession of the Danks as underlying property owners. The Danks also alleged a taking of property when the city forcibly removed and relocated fencing and private property placed on the portion of Isle Road in question.
On March 24, 2017, Sherburne County 10th District Court granted in part and denied in part Zimmerman’s motion for summary judgment. The court found in the city’s favor degrading the claim of abandonment of the right of way and removal of the private placement of benches, landscaping and fire pit from the right of way. But the court denied the city’s claim that a white vinyl fence and boulders, which were removed in 2005, were in the right of way.
Since the case was not dismissed, the court ordered a pretrial hearing for late July. The Danks’ attorney then contacted the city’s attorney to discuss settlement with three conditions: There will be no additional fencing along the road, the Danks will be allowed to remove bounders off the now-confirmed right of way, and the Danks will be allowed to cross the right of way to access their docks. During Monday night’s City Council meeting, the council approved the settlement without the three conditions, which will be addressed later if needed.

Public works update
Public Works Director Dave Johnson asked the council to allow him to advertise for bids for a new 2017 plow truck. The existing 1996 Kodiak plow truck continues to experience mechanical failures and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find replacement parts as they are no longer manufactured. This truck also features the only belly blade the city owns, which is used for ice removal.
The City Council authorized advertising for bids for the possible purchase of a new plow.
Johnson also asked the council to approve the purchase of a new pump control valve assembly for the Sixth Avenue water plant. The value is about 20 years old and staff has been having trouble with it for the past 10 years but has managed to get by with makeshift fixes.
Johnson said the valve often sticks halfway open, which screws up the timing of the steps that follow it as the sensor reads that the valve is not open and then the pump does not start. The council approved the purchase of a replacement valve at a cost of $6,800.

Angry resident
Cheri Singleton, a resident at 12595 Third Ave. S., shared some dissatisfaction she has experienced related to the road construction project going on in front of her home. The property can only be accessed by Third Avenue, which is currently torn apart so that new water and sewer lines can be installed. Singleton is one of four adults living in the home and all work different shifts.
Singleton said that communication about when the driveway will be blocked and when vehicles need to be moved has been very poor. While she said she understands she will need to park a block or two away at times, there has not been a safe path for her to take to get to her home by foot because the road is torn up and often very muddy.
“I would really like to be able to walk to my car without wearing hip waders,” she said. “There’s a swamp to my west, there’s a culvert to my east and there’s a bank of trees and brush all the way around. We have to go out into that street and nobody’s careful about making sure that we can actually get across the street.”
Singleton also said that her mailbox was removed on June 22. The city sent out a letter telling her that it would be moved, but that letter was dated June 23 and delivered on June 24 and there was already no mailbox for that letter to be delivered to. She had to call all over to try and figure out where to pick up her mail.
City Engineer Kevin Bitner apologized for the communication issues and said the city has been working very hard to keep the Singleton family informed ever since. He said that the pipes should all be laid this week and then the family would regularly have a solid place to walk after that happens.
Singleton admitted that the resident representative on the project has been doing a good job of keeping her family informed this week; she only wishes the communication would have been this good from the beginning.
In other matters Monday, the council:
•Accepted the petition for annexation of a 34.14-acre property located in an orderly annexation area owned by Christopher Flor. The property is located in the northwest quadrant of the Highway 4 and 136th Street intersection. The Zimmerman/Livonia Fire District has agreed to purchase a portion of this property for a future fire hall project, and Flor requested that the property be annexed into the city so the property subdivision can be completed per city regulations. The township will be reimbursed for lost tax revenue per the orderly annexation agreement in the amount of $1,280. Lovinia Township will also have to approve the joint resolution before it can be executed.
•Approved the acquisition of a 10-foot-by-100-foot permanent right of way easement from Rod and Carol Properties LLC for additional street right of way for the Second Street West reconstruction project at a cost of $3,000. The acquisition will square things out at the intersection and make room for snow removal storage.
•Was introduced to Karl Anderson, the new city maintenance technician, who started this week.