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Wells council in 45 minute closed session

By Staff | Jul 16, 2017

Wells’ regularly scheduled City Council meeting started by immediately going into closed session for 45 minutes last Monday.

Once the meeting went back into open session, city attorney David Frundt stated the council discussed a number of pending litigation topics regarding the city of Wells.

Those topics included:

A lawsuit between Kevin and Connie Martin vs. the City of Wells, stemming from the injunction the city filed against the Martins on June 15 for the illegal operation of a car repair shop on their property.

In the public comment portion of the meeting, Nancy Kreuger wanted to make mention of the Martins and their business.

“I just wanted to reinforce to the City Council, we live next to the Martins’ business,” said Kreuger. “If we would have known there was a business there, we would’ve stayed in the country. This is not fair to us or other properties we’ve purchased. I just want you to keep that in mind.”

A lawsuit stemming from a Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA)/City loan program between Deutsche Bank vs. Brian and Jody Koller, City of Wells.

Detachment request and/or Rural Service District tax rate adjustment request.

The city of Wells has received requests from Dennis G. and Diane L. Lutteke, Marie Hassing, and the Catherine A. Pluym Life Estate to detach from the city and/or requesting a reduction in tax rate.

“We are not certain exactly what they are requesting, so we are waiting on clarification from those parties,” stated city administrator Robin Leslie.

An investigative report into some alleged employee misconduct of Jonathan Bathke. The council discussed the report, but took no action.

As public comment continued, Kristi Feist, of the Humble Heart located on the north end of Broadway Street, also known as Wells’ Main Street, had a few choice words for the council regarding the city’s “Summer in the City” event.

“Why, during city events, do you eliminate the north block of the street? Last year, my sales during the Summer in the City event were great, but this year, you literally blocked off the block with a fire truck,” said Feist.

“And this year, I had next to nothing in sales. I also have concerns about how that fire truck would’ve gotten out if it was needed. But, those businesses on that block truly rely on walk-in business. This street has potential to be a great business district, please don’t forget that,” she said.

First on the list of the council’s business agenda items, was a discussion regarding Martin Dylla’s property on 10th Street and the adjacent cart path. Dylla had come to the council previously to see whose responsibility it was to mow the boulevard area.

City administrator Leslie said she further researched the history of the property to trace back the ownership of the property lines and, hopefully, whose responsibility it would be.

According to Leslie, who had the city engineer Travis Winter and a surveyor do some research, in 1906 the land in question was a private cartway owned by one person. Then, in 1960, it became an official city plat and was recorded as a proposed street.

In the following year, 1961, the city proposed the street have a 12 foot utility easement for the property and since that time, the portion of land was marked as ownership of the city for street easement purposes. However, Leslie says the easement, technically, was never properly recorded.

The most important detail, however is that the plot of land, whether city owned or private, has sanitary, storm sewer and water utilities underground, which, according to Leslie, would not allow it to be considered a cartway.

“It would not be considered a cartway with those utilities under it,” said Leslie.

Brenda Weber, city councilwoman and daughter of Martin Dylla, questioned the validity of the term “street” siting her City Council handbook that states there are multiple types of street with different rules for each type of street.

“If you measure out the right of way, it goes to my dad’s fence just to the north side of the second tee box (of the Thompson Park golf course). It’s only 40 feet to the sign and the road’s within that section. If you’re going to term something, this doesn’t fall under any of these street terms,” said Weber.

“Our ordinance doesn’t say street, it says abutting boulevard,” replied Leslie. “Regardless, it’s still a boulevard that has to be maintained. A boulevard, by definition, is the area between the property line and the street or curb or pavement.”

“So the answer is he should be mowing it?” questioned councilwoman Whitney Harig.

“I’m just wondering when they did the annexation in 2007 for these properties, whoever was on Planning and Zoning at that time should have told him he should be mowing the area,” said Weber. “He should have got a notice or something but I don’t think anybody at that time who got annexed in got any notice. These people were taken out of the county and put into city limits.”

“Yes,” replied Leslie. “Fifteen years ago.”

After much debate by the council it was decided that Martin Dylla would continue to be responsible for mowing the boulevard area abutting his property.

The City Council also:

Received a report from police chief Tim Brenegan stating the city is still looking for part time officers to employ, which sparked another question for the council.

“Doesn’t it seem like we spend so much money on training these officers only to lose them the following year?” asked Harig.

“Yes, we’ve seen this all too often in Wells,” said Leslie. “Once these officers get enough experience, they move onto another town. I think it’s because a lot of these officers are looking for full-time employment with benefits, and that, unfortunately is something we cannot offer at this point.”

Found out the portion of the Third Street project owned by the railroad was not budgeted in the railroad’s budget for this or next year.

“The repairs for the railroad tracks will have to come in 2019,” said Leslie, who also reported the Wells Business Park project is coming along and lots will be available to purchase very soon.

Received information from Leslie stating City Hall will be closed Thursday, July 20, and Monday, July 24, all day , with Friday, July 21, being open for just business in the City Hall and not licensing. This closing is impart due to cleaning and updates for the city hall building.

A budget work session is scheduled for July 24, but Leslie states the session would be brief. The council approved the work session for 4 p.m., one hour prior to their next Wells City Council meeting which is set to take place July 24, at 5 p.m.