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City Council approves variance, denies repair compensation

Tyler Tribute of Tyler, Minnesota

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Bob and Brenda Sichmeller were on hand to speak on their recently submitted variance permit request. No action was taken at an earlier meeting after objections arose from another homeowner on the same block. The request was altered from an earlier plan. The Sichmellers requested a 15-foot variance to build a garage on the front of their house. One of the issues was cementing over the current water and sewer lines. Sichmeller said changes were made to make sure that does not happen.

He brought in letters from neighbors up and down the street, all of whom had no problem with the construction.

Mayor Peterson recused himself from the discussion due to a possible conflict of interest, and Councilperson Erick Harper took over the meeting in his capacity as deputy mayor. Harper read through the letters of support for the room.

A letter was also received from Marvin Brinkman, who had originally objected to the construction. The letter spelled out Brinkman's issues as follows:

"We are against the variance and are concerned that at 30 feet from the street they will be building 20 to 24 feet in front of all the other homes on the block and will distort the looks of the neighborhood and devalue the surrounding properties."

Brinkman also went on to mention the concrete that was proposed in the first plan that would have covered the water and sewer lines.

One other letter of objection was received citing diminished aesthetics due to the fronts of the houses no longer being lined up, as well as blocking a view from the stop sign of oncoming traffic.

Four other neighbors were on hand to support the Sichmellers in their bid for a variance.

City Attorney Glen Petersen said that variances can be granted due to special circumstances of certain properties, and in the Sichmeller's situation, they are landlocked behind their house with no back alley leading to a street, and they do not have enough room on the sides of their house to add on, leaving them only one option for building a garage, and that is on the front of their existing structure.

"This is the only way of securing a garage probably for their property," Petersen said.

The council voted 4-0 in favor of granting the variance!, with one abstention.

Dale Weime was back in front of the council to follow up on his request to help pay for some of the expense of digging up the street in front of his house at the corner of Bradley and Linwood Street. It is suspected that tree roots had broken into the clay tile line over the years and caused major line issues. Wolfington said that in researching the issue, the street was part of a sewer project completed in the early 1990s. Wolfington said the project called for replacing clay line with plastic, but apparently a few of the lots were missed. He could not confirm whether it was an oversight or if it was just the result of homeowners not wanting the work done. Wolfington said he suspects that more of those clay tiles will be found in years to come. The homeowner is normally responsible for all repairs from the main line to the house. At the time of the project there was an add-on to the project to replace the clay lines with plastic up to the curb. Former city employee Dub Lutterman said that the replacements were made as a courtesy to the homeowners in town and if there was an issue, the newly paved streets would not have to be torn up.

"But they did miss a few," Lutterman said.

Weime said that six years ago he was denied a request to have the street dug tip and have the problems fixed.

"We wanted to do it at that time," Weime told the council. "It had gotten so bad that we were fixing it every winter."

Weime said the damaged tile was between the curb to the middle of the street. He spent $1,587.75 to make repairs. A total of $255 of that bill was to the city to repave the street.

Wolfington said there is no way to tell for sure if tree roots were the issue, and it could be a number of other causes.

The council denied Weime's request to recoup any of the bill on the grounds that the homeowner is responsible from the main line to the house and that after 20 years even plastic tile could need to be replaced by a homeowner as well as the fact that the possible root damage came from a tree on Weime's property. Weime said that he was told by a city employee that if the tile was still clay lines that had not been replaced in the '90s, that the issue belonged to the city.

Harper said that Weime got bad information.

"I don't know who would have told you that but they told you wrong" Harper argued.

Weime voiced his disappointment with the decision.

"I think you're going back on your word from what was told to me," Weime told the council. "I'm sure I got it from your office. That's what I'm going by. I know Dean Beck came out there and said if that is clay tile then that is the city's responsibility."

The vote to deny compensation was 4-1, with Councilpersons Harper, Ivan Petersen, Cricket Raschke and Tim Sanderson voting yes and Mayor Peterson voting no.

Weime told the council that he felt the decision was wrong.

"I've got to go against you on this one," Weime said. "I saved you a lot of work in the wintertime. I can't understand you guys. I don't feel right about this at all. It should have been done here years ago before the streets were done."

Weime said his request six years ago was when the streets were being re-paved.

"That's when I really wanted it done, and that's when I got denied," Weime recounted. "You guys were paving over them and I figured you don't want to ruin the street at that time."

Weime cited a previous owner that had to have similar work done during the winter at a greater expense.

"Then you paid for that one 100 percent and then you don't do anything here," he told the council.

Councilperson Sanderson said that the project Weime referred to was a different circumstance due to the fact that the water project at the time caused the problem.

Mayor Merv Peterson said the community input meeting was informative and the city will be working to address many of the issues that were brought up by citizens of Tyler. Among the complaints that will be addressed were cleaning up many properties in town; concerns that the council is too liberal in issuing of permits and variances; maintenance on gravel back alleys; illegal U-turns in the downtown area.

The council did approve asking the police department to begin cracking down on illegal U-turns.

City Administrator Robert Wolfington said that the city is currently working on resolving all the issues that were brought up. Mayor Peterson said that the meeting was a success and another will be scheduled for a future date, and is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 1.

"My goal is to not let these things drop," Peterson said. "If they bring it to us we want to take action."

With the police office renovations nearing completion, plans are in the works to move the City Administrator's office back to the downtown location in the weeks to come.

Wolfington said he is tentatively planning to be at the utility building office from 7-9:30 a.m., then at the downtown location until 3:30 p.m., except for a lunch break from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Then he will be back at the utility building for the remainder of the day.

In other business:

The council received two bids for purchasing a new fire truck. Heiman Fire Equipment of Sioux Falls came in with the low bid of $239,552. The other bid was from North Central Emergency Vehicles of Lester Prairie at $278,988. The bid was awarded to Heiman.

Bids were opened for the leasing of 30 acres of land near the airport for three years. Keifer Brothers Farms submitted the high bid of $225 per acre and were awarded the bid. Two other bids were received at $210 and $200 per acre.

The Personnel Committee presented a recommendation to replace former lineman Bob Zeug by contracting with Lyon-Lincoln Electric Cooperative (LLEC) for lineman services. The contract presented did not specify a set number of hours of service provided and would be valid for a term of one year with the possibility of an extension. The council will also continue to advertise and interview to add another city employee before winter arrives.

Approved a request from Kullen Stanek to remove a tree in front of the new location for Beck Agency, due to concerns the tree has grown too large and roots may also be an issue at some point The council approved the request and will also look at removing other trees in the downtown area.

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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