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New language is suggested for resolution

DICKINSON - program the city of Dickinson offers to existing homeowners to repair their sidewalks, curbs, gutters and driveways by allowing those costs to be special assessed to their property should not be used by housing developers to cover those same costs associated with newly constructed residences.

As a result, Mayor Dennis Johnson was joined by Commissioner Rhonda Dukart and Commissioner Carson Steiner in recommending new language be inserted in the resolution that authorizes the city program to restrict new developments from using the repair program. Commissioner Joe Frenzel and Commissioner Bill Reitmeier were absent from Tuesday's regular meeting of the Dickinson City Commission that was delayed one day due to Monday's President's Day holiday.

Johnson, Dukart and Steiner all agreed when they have supported this program in the past, they never intended it to be used for new home construction.

"I think I would be in favor of having more restrictive language," Johnson said.

"I don't think that was ever the intent," Dukart said of having the program be used for new home construction.

City Engineer Shawn Soehren discussed the resolution as it was brought forward for its annual approval Tuesday.

"With the development we have of new houses, we have some builders looking at this as an opportunity to put their sidewalks in," Soehren told the commissioners.

If a developer were allowed to use the program, the individual could sell the house and the additional costs wouldn't appear until the new owner would get the first property tax statement for the property.

"It certainly would be a hidden, $2,000 to $3,000 to $4,000 that the person who has just bought the house is unaware of," he said. "We'd have no way of transferring that information, so it truly would be hidden."

The city also already works with developers to help finance a share of the costs associated with new housing developments.

Soehren said the program where homeowners voluntarily special assess the cost of the concrete repairs over five years, is growing. The program also helps reduce costs for property owners as the city bids the overall amount of concrete needed for all projects in a given year.

In a related matter, the commission did authorize another year for a resolution that allows the cost of removing hazardous trees by property owners to also be special assessed over five years. This program also is voluntary and helps property owners address removing trees that can easily produce costs of $1,000 or more per tree.

In an unrelated matter, Police Chief Chuck Rummel reported an alcohol compliance check involving off sale establishments was conducted this past Jan. 18. Because the department had difficulties in finding students to assist with the check, Rummel said a notice was not sent to the establishments informing them of a compliance check within 90 days.

Of the eight licensed premises checked, two sold to underage students - Frontier Liquors and Town & Country Liquor.

In another unrelated matter, Fire Chief Bob Sivak presented city water utilities supervisor Roger "Skip" Rapp with an "Occupational Safety Merit Award" in recognition of the water utility staff's safety efforts.