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City P&Z schedules Ely redesign hearing

By Staff | Jan 17, 2020

The City of Rugby Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday evening to set a date for a proposal by the Rugby Public School District to eliminate part of Third Street Southwest for a site redesign at Ely Elementary School.

Commission members began the meeting by electing new officers.

Jackie Albrecht was named commission chair. New member Dave Anderson, who was not in attendance, was nominated vice chair, while Rugby Mayor Sue Steinke was named secretary.

Rugby Public School Superintendent Mike McNeff presented information on the impact the Ely redesign would have on water flow in the area. Zach Gaaskjolen, of Wold Engineering, and Wyatt Hansen, of the North Dakota Department of Transportation, also presented information on the topic.

“We came in last April to propose the idea of an alley reroute and street closure. We put our petition in, and at that time there was a big conversation about water drainage if the street were to be removed, and the planning and zoning commission suggested that we complete a hydraulic study and also work with the Department of Transportation on the Highway 3 project that I believe is starting this summer,” McNeff told the commission.

McNeff cited North Dakota Century Code, which allows parties owning land on both sides of a street to close the street.

“We’re back again. We believe we completed (the water study) requests, and we’re still wanting to push forward on that proposal,” McNeff said.

McNeff presented an engineering study of water flow near the Ely campus.

Pointing to a map of the area near the school, McNeff said the water “flows down Third Avenue, then flows this way into Third Street Southwest here, into this intersection.”

McNeff said the water flow turns the corner and flows to Third Street Southwest.

“Highway 3 is where water flow comes down on the hydraulic study.”

“The existing school site that it sits on does not contribute to the flow. So the current block does not contribute to the flow. It flows the other way. It’s the road that’s in question, Third Avenue Southwest. The water that flows down the north-south road contributes to the flow of water, which is why we’re talking about this today,” McNeff said, pointing to a series of arrows on the map.

Gaaskjolen of Wold Engineering presented information on water flow involved in the North Dakota DOT’s Highway 3 study.

“We just looked at Highway 3, because that’s the project we’re working on. Third Street in between isn’t really what we looked at. There are going to be additional inlets placed for the current design at the intersection of Highway 3 and Third Street. There isn’t any there right now. There would be an inlet on the north side and the south side.”

Gaaskjolen added, “Most of it would be handled by the inlet on the north side. What didn’t get handled will go through a valley gutter and go through the south side.”

Gaaskjolen explained water flow could be handled by a system of valley gutters on streets along the perimeter of school property. Showing another diagram, he and McNeff described valley gutters as shallow, 36-inch wide v-shaped channels.

Both Gaaskjolen and McNeff said the valley gutter system would be adequate to handle water flow near the school.

McNeff added the area replacing part of Third Avenue Southwest “would all be grass. That’s something to consider as well – there would be some absorption with grass, not just asphalt that would take away some of that runoff.”

Commission member Al Jundt asked about the impact of stormwater flow on Highway 3. City council member Gary Kraft, who also attended the meeting, told Jundt only sanitary sewer lines flow toward the highway from the area near the school.

DOT representative Hansen said work on the Highway 3 project would likely be done in 2021.

McNeff also presented a plan for one possible school design, which concentrated bus traffic on the north side of campus and parent pick ups and drop offs on the south side.

Members of the public asked McNeff questions about the school property redesign and expressed concerns about the size and access to an alley that was part of the project. McNeff and the commission also heard concerns about access for deliveries, street safety and replacing storage sheds near the building with portable classrooms.

Another member of the public suggested using local bus service for children in town year-round instead of only in winter to cut down on traffic before and after school.

Rugby Public School Board member Dustin Hager told the group a redesign was necessary to address space and overcrowding concerns at Ely.

“We have special education services that literally are being offered in the janitor’s closet, in hallways, in nooks and crannies all over that school. If those are your kids who are learning in the janitor’s closet, if those are your grandkids who are learning in the janitor’s closet, is that acceptable to you?” Hager asked.

McNeff said, “One way or another, we need to do something. What I’m asking is let us go through the process and get to a hearing.”

Commission chair Albrecht reminded the group that the matter on the agenda only concerned closing the section of Third Avenue Southwest.

The commission voted unanimously to schedule a hearing for the Rugby Public School District’s plan for Monday, Feb. 10.

In other business, the commission heard a proposal to consider zoning for a hemp processing plant by Rugby resident Craig Wollenburg.

Wollenburg told the board he planned to purchase the former Windshield Doctor building for the facility. The commission discussed whether the facility should be zoned for commercial or light industrial use.

The commission voted to study the matter further.

The commission also approved a re-platting of Lots 3, 7 and 8 in the Sveum Subdivision area requested by Brad Wangler of Rugby Spray Foam, LLC. Derick Welk also made the request, but was absent from the meeting.

The commission also approved changes to minutes from an Oct. 14 meeting where City Attorney Bill Hartl discussed a drainage pond in Rugby’s Chalmers Addition.

“I would just strike that sentence that in my opinion, Chalmers should have a drainage pond,” Hartl said.

The commission ended the meeting with an executive session to discuss a lawsuit filed against them by Craig and Jennifer Zachmeier.

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