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Gladstone special assessments reset

GLADSTONE -- The process of issuing special assessments to Gladstone residents to pay for a city street project will essentially be reset, but will continue in the near future.

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Gladstone Mayor Kurt Martin, left, and city attorneys Christina Wenko, center, and Jared Larsen, right, discuss the special assessment process at a special meeting of the city council Wednesday night. (Press Photo by Andrew Haffner)

GLADSTONE -- The process of issuing special assessments to Gladstone residents to pay for a city street project will essentially be reset, but will continue in the near future.

City council members agreed to pursue a resolution to determine the special assessment district at their next regularly scheduled meeting after some discussion with both attorneys and residents during a special meeting Wednesday night at the Gladstone Community building.

City Attorney Christina Wenko said the city was “starting over” with the assessment process and clarified to the residents in the room that the resolution is only “step one” in the process of creating the assessments.

“Don’t lock yourselves into these numbers,” Wenko said of the estimated assessments issued to the residents. “... It’s an information process, but it is a process. We will get there, but we want to make sure it’s done correctly.”

A street project that would include curb and gutter work, and surfacing of Seventh Avenue and Cliff Street will require the special assessment.

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Assessments were completed for a group of approximately 15 homes in the area after Dickinson-based contractor BP Construction built four new houses under an agreement with the city that a certificate of occupancy would not be issued until the proper infrastructure, including sewer, water and pavement, could be finished.

Gladstone Mayor Kurt Martin said the construction firm finished the homes and sold them before finishing the infrastructure, leaving a total of $600,000 in work left unfinished.

The city has agreed to earmark funding for a third of that total cost, and $130,000 is held in one of two escrow funds but must be used before year end.

BP Construction had agreed to foot the bill for most of that infrastructural work when the project was bid out, but did not enter into a development agreement to provide accountability. As a result, the remainder of the funding is still unprovided, leading to the special assessments.

Many of the residents who came to Wednesday’s meeting protested the assessments.

Dan and Marcy Hilzendeger, who live on Seventh Ave. and were assessed for around $48,000 in October, came to the meeting hoping to see the process be reset.

“I’d like to come out fair,” Hilzendeger said. “Everybody wants to have a nice, paved road and everything, so we’re looking for it to come out that way without anybody getting a big burden.”

Hilzendeger said he wanted the council to start over to establish the districts and the assessments correctly.

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“A lot of this got started without a lot of people knowing it,” Hilzendeger said. “Now that everybody’s in the know, everybody can get their opinions in. We’re taking the right steps now.”

Martin said after the meeting that he believed the road project would be a good for the city in the long term and hoped residents would support the upcoming resolution to establish the special assessment district.

“It always seems to be a long, tough road when you start it, but in the end, usually a year after the project is done, everybody forgets about the hard part and enjoys the good part, which is a nice road,” he said.

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