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Concerned about a roundabout

By Staff | Sep 29, 2019

Citizens of Wells, including some local business owners, expressed their concerns about a proposed roundabout coming to the city of Wells in 2023.

It seems Wells residents are already concerned about the possibility of a roundabout that is being scoped for 2023.

Three members of the public shared their concerns during the Wells City Council meeting last Monday, Sept. 23, with regard to the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s plan on adding a roundabout to Highway 22 and Highway 109, or Second Avenue NW.

“MnDOT’s plans for a roundabout contains a safety issue that is paramount to my business,” said Kevin Weitzel, owner of Wells’ Dairy Queen. “If MnDOT is trying to add this as a safety measure, it seems pretty redundant. There aren’t any accidents at that intersection.?The greater concern that I do have is if they remove one of our accesses to the drive-thru, we will have one exit and entrance to the restaurant which is a safety concern of mine. I think we really need to take a stand before this gets started.”

“Subway, Carl’s Auto, DQ, and the liquor store will all be within that roundabout,” said Kim Hueper, a rental property owner in Wells. “As our city council, what can you do to advise us on working through this with the state? Any direction to the citizens would be great.”

City administrator CJ Holl stated the area is currently being scoped for the potential of a roundabout. He stated future city meetings will be held on the topic and to pay attention to media sources when those meetings will take place.

“This is what MnDOT?brought to us, we didn’t request this,” said Holl. “I just want to make that clear.”

According to an email sent to the city of Wells, as well as Faribault County’s public works director, Mark Daly, MnDOT is in the process of developing a scope of work for the Highway 22 project between Wells and Mapleton.

“As a part of the scoping process, we are reviewing options for the Truncated Highway 22/Truncated Highway 109/ County Road 29 intersection in Wells,” reads the email from Matthew Thibert of MnDOT. “Based on traffic counts and other considerations, some options that will be evaluated include right and left turn lanes on the south, west, and east legs, a roundabout, and pedestrian accommodations.”

The email goes on to say when evaluating alternatives, MnDOT takes into consideration growth and changes in the area over the next 15 to 20 years to correspond with the estimated pavement life.

“Since the county has one of the four legs of the intersection, there would be cost participation from the county if a roundabout is pursued.”

During his report to the council, Holl reported demolition at the new liquor store location is under way. He also shared the process of designating Wellington Estates as hazardous has made progress after going through the building via a Faribault County warrant to document the numerous safety hazards of the building.

“The next step is to do another walk through and be in communication with the owner,” said Holl.

The city administrator also informed the council that sidewalk improvements have been completed for the season, and gave kudos to Lee Smith Concrete for their work with the community.

Street Foreman Mike Pyzick shared with the council the Wells Flame Theatre has a leak in its roof.

“We are three years into a five-year guarantee and contacting Proguard out of Ellendale has proved pretty difficult,” said Pyzick. “The leak is just above the projector in the theater so the sooner we can get this resolved and repaired, the better.”

After updates from the Wells city staff, the council moved on to discuss next year’s city budget and set the preliminary budget for the 2020 property tax levy.

“There are a few items in the budget that we had budgeted and you will find them in the highlights,” stated Holl to the council. “For the city, we have a few computer upgrades coming. Most of our staff is working on computers from 2013 and our deputy clerk, Jennie Kloos, will be working on obtaining her Master Municipal Clerk certification, which is a three-year process.”

Other highlights from the budget include a $16,000 ladder truck 10 year certification for the Wells Fire Department, a resurfacing project for Fourth Street SE at the cost of $26,000, seal coating for a few areas in Wells at the cost of $29,000, a new utility vehicle at the cost of $19,000, a new snow blower at $50,000 and a new 72-inch mower at $12,500. The city’s previous mower failed and will need to be replaced.

The total for the proposed tax levy is proposed to be at $1,324,136, which is an increase of 10.8 percent. Holl mentioned there were a number of savings that were made within the year to help with the budget including the swimming pool filter project, saving the city $11,000, and a SCBA grant added to the pressure washer system for the Fire Department which saved the city $14,000.

The preliminary levy was adopted with a motion by Crystal Dulas and was seconded by John Herman. The city of Wells plans to hold its Truth in Taxation meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 6 p.m., in the Wells Community Center.

In their meeting, the Wells City Council also:

Considered and approved a conditional use permit for a Franklin Street address in order to create residential use in a commercial zone. The property will still need to go through licensure for rental property agreements.

Discussed the city’s annual contract with Bevcomm and approved the contract with a slight increase due to ‘out of contract’ work.

Heard from city engineer Travis Winter who shared the preliminary results of the old USC football field storm water retention study indicated no beneficial storm water benefits. Winter summarized there was too much water even for the size of a football field that would not help with flooding.

Transfered Outlot B from the Wells Housing and Redevelopment Authority to the city.

Approved a building official service agreement with Bryan Stensland. All but Dulas voted in favor of the agreement.

Announced City Hall is no longer continuing with additional DMV hours due to a lack of interest from the public.

Accepted a donation to the city of Wells from the Wells Golf Board. Donations included a John Deere X500 mower with 42-inch deck, a Toro fringe/tee box mower with two sets of reels and one set verticutting reels, a John Deere 2243 greens mower with two sets of reels, and a walk behind greens mower, plugger and pull behind sprayer. The Wells Golf Board has dissolved and is donating the golf course and its equipment to the city.

Has begin the process of considering a new name for the new Wells Liquor Store. Holl stated he would work with the city staff to create a poll for residents to vote on names for the store.

Set their next Wells City Council meeting for Oct. 14, at 5 p.m.