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Council discusses elevator propane tank, rec and street projects

By Sue Sitter - | Jan 9, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT A bank of four 1,000-gallon propane tanks (bottom of photo) sit near the Rugby Farmers Union Elevator on First Street Northeast in Rugby.

The Rugby City Council reviewed repairs to damage at baseball diamonds near Ellery Park and revisited a request from 2013 to locate a 30,000-gallon propane tank near homes at their meeting Monday, Jan. 4.

In their regular monthly meeting, the council heard from Cameron Erickson of Rugby Farmers Elevator, who requested permission to locate a 30,000-gallon propane tank near the elevator in a residential section of town near Main Avenue and First Street Northwest.

Erickson referred to council meeting minutes from Aug. 5, 2013, when discussing the proposal.

“The board of directors would like to consider a larger dryer system at some point in time and right now, we would be pretty much capped out with our propane and what we would have for propane available,” Erickson noted. “Prior to my arrival, there was some discussion about a 30,000 gallon bullet (tank) that would be put in. If you can imagine the grounds where the elevator is, (the location) is where that block of four propane tanks is now.”

“Really, there would be no change from what was discussed back then,” he added.

Erickson cited losses in business caused by the limited capacity for drying agricultural products at the facility, telling the council the elevator had been force to turn away business.

Council members in turn voiced concerns on the impact the tank would have on residential properties in the northern part of town.

Council member Jackie Albrecht, who lives in the area near the elevator, said, “When the elevator expanded, it did decrease the value of the properties across the street. I know this from the last tax evaluation that was done.”

“Putting that tank there would further decrease the value of our property and as a council member and homeowner over there, I think we need to be responsible to the citizens,” Albrecht added. “I understand what Cameron is saying, but they did choose to build there with those houses across the street. They chose to expand in that location. As a council, we need to investigate this further to be fair to the homeowners.”

“And before anything is done, I think every homeowner over there needs to be sent a letter saying that a decision is going to be made and if you want to put in your input, you need to come or send a letter,” Albrecht said. “It’s a big deal. If you’re a homeowner, you’ve invested a lot in a piece of property and if there’s a business across the street that wants to expand and decrease your (property) value, that’s huge.”

Council member Dave Bednarz, who also lives in the area near the elevator, noted a daycare center was located not far from the elevator.

Attorney Bill Hartl explained the tank’s location could negatively affect potential homeowners’ abilities to secure FHA financing on their home loans for properties located near the tank.

The council voted to send letters to property owners in an area Mayor Sue Steinke described as “Starting from Main (Avenue) going east, both sides of the street, but on the north side, going one block north from Main.”

The council also agreed to work together with Rugby Farmers Elevator to compose the letter.

The council revisited work done on the recreation complex associated with a drain tile project begun in September.

A Jan. 2 Tribune story about the project said Recreation Manager Jamie Wald oversaw work on the project, however, Recreation Committee Chair Joel Berg actually headed the project. Wald offered input on the project because she was able to observe the work from her home located near the complex.

The story, which referenced unfinished council business from 2020, also reported negotiations on Wald’s compensation for her service as the city recreation manager. Mayor Sue Steinke told the Tribune Wald’s compensation for the 2020 season was divided into increments of five and three months, each with 10 to 15 hours paid. Wald, who began as recreation manager in 2018, received no pay for her duties prior to the 2020 recreation season.

The council discussed damage done to fencing around the project at the recreation complex, voting to ask contractor Austin Harles to cease any attempts to repair it. The council voted to contact Dakota Fence of Minot for repair estimates, to be discussed in committees Wednesday, Jan. 20.

The council also voted to discuss payment on a $19,200 invoice submitted by Harles for drain tile work on the baseball diamonds. Council members discussed billing Harles for his use of a city-owned skid steer for the project and damage he did to the fence at the diamonds.

Members also discussed a discrepancy in measurements for materials placed in the drain tile project, which Harles originally estimated at approximately 18,000 linear feet, and the measurement taken by engineering firm AE2S, who said the project area encompassed 13,891 linear feet.

Albrecht said the discrepancy might have resulted from using measurements noted in a bid by Ellingson Companies, who told the city they would not be able to complete the work in the fall.

“I think we can look at this as a learning experience,” Albrecht said. “Let’s learn from it, finish it up, get the ball diamond taken care of so it can be played on next summer. The fence, we can fix the fence in part, maybe we’ll decide to fix the whole fence while we’re doing it. This can be decided later on because nobody’s going to be drilling holes and pouring cement in the winter.”

Council member Matt Lunde suggested committees improve communication to avoid problems such as those with the drain tile project in the future.

“I think this goes back to policy and I think that’s going to be addressed in finance when we put together policies on how to handle contractors who are beneath the required century code ceiling,” Steinke said. “If we put those policies in place, there will be much better communication between all members of council.”

In other business, Jim Olson of AE2S gave the council an update on storm sewer projects in the city. Olson also requested a public information meeting Feb. 1 to solicit input on water and sewer system work near 2 ¢ Avenue and Sixth Street Southeast.

The council also gave their nod to planning and zoning committee approval of a request by Dollar General Store to change the number of parking spaces at its proposed location. A request from a property owner to expand his garage was also approved.

Noting a change from the orange “high risk” category for COVID-19 to a yellow “medium risk” category for North Dakota, the council voted to increase the number of hours the Rugby Armory is open to the public to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

A request for a new city mask mandate failed, with Frank La Rocque, Bednarz and Dave Trottier voting yes and Berg, Lunde, Albrecht, Gary Kraft and Chuck Longie voting no.

The council also voted to accept an 2019 audit, financials and minutes from prior council meetings and bills from December 2020. The council also approved meeting minutes from the Rugby Job Development Authority and an agenda from the Rugby Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The council also approved an advertising agreement with the Pierce County Tribune and a designation of depository for banks in Rugby.

Council members also voted to contact a property owner near Ellery Park about cleaning damage from a fire in April of 2020.

The Rugby City Council will next meet Feb. 1.

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