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Posted on September 9, 2019 at 4:09 PM by Bryan Obenchain
While many in our community may see much of this summer’s extremely busy road construction season as aggravating, annoying, or inconvenient, I see the flurry of work in a different light. I see it as progress. I see it as growth. And I see it as being one year closer to protecting our community and others against another flood event.
Much of the major work on Broadway this summer is vital to the successful completion of the Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Plan. The massive underground storm water pipe that was installed this year is crucial to the overall infrastructure of the project, which is the largest in our community’s history. The months of head-to-head traffic certainly changed the driving habits of many residents, but the work was absolutely necessary.
Even without the flood protection work on Broadway, this was going to be a busy year on Broadway. The overlay project on north Broadway and the replacement of various concrete panels and some curb and gutter meant drivers would see a lot of orange cones this year. But Minot’s backlog of deferred maintenance on road repairs has grown tremendously through the past decade, and the City Council has actively worked to help the City’s engineering and traffic departments reduce that backlog in recent budgets. I would expect that effort to continue in future budgets.
It’s been an extremely busy year on 16th Street SW, too, and we recognize that the street’s full closure for the past few weeks has put additional stress on commuters, especially during peak times. Again, the work taking place on 16th Street SW is key to ensuring that our community is protected should another flood event happen in future years. Reopening 16th Street SW with two lanes of head-to-head traffic late last week will help alleviate the traffic backups on other routes, and we look forward to when the road is fully open to traffic.
As we discussed at the City Council meeting last week, there is another major road closure happening; Third Street NE is closed at the intersection of Fifth Avenue NE, just north of the Third Street bridge. We fully recognize the inconvenience caused by this closure, but major underground work related to the flood control project is happening at that location. In order for the project to continue its progress, this work that ties into the overall project needs to be completed this construction season.
Every construction season reminds me of the attitude North Dakotans generally have when it comes to winter. Yes, there is much to complain about during winter, but as the weather warms, snow melts, and spring is clearly visible on the calendar, ask North Dakotans what they thought of the latest winter. In my experience, you’ll hear a lot of things like “It wasn’t so bad” or “Well, it could have been worse.” By necessity, we have short memories.
And so it is with construction. Yes, this summer has been hectic in Minot. Traffic habits were altered on many of the busiest routes in town, creating frustrating commutes. But let’s not forget that 2018 was an extremely busy construction year, too. And so was 2017. And 2016. And 2015. And, well, you get the point. This year, the construction work has been more visible since it’s taken place on major traffic routes, including Broadway, 16th Street SW and Third Street NE. That won’t always be the case.
Our focus continues to be on completing the basin-wide flood protection system in an efficient and cost-effective manner, and sometimes that means construction affecting several major traffic routes must be done at the same time. Scheduling contractors and subcontractors is a difficult task, and it isn’t always feasible or efficient to wait until one project is complete before starting another project, even if that means some of the traffic changes overlap. Yes, it’s temporarily inconvenient for everyone, and we appreciate our community’s patience as this project progresses. The end result – protecting our city and our neighbors – will certainly be worth it.
Sincerely, City Hall
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Posted on August 26, 2019 at 8:43 AM by Bryan Obenchain
The number of nuisances reported to the City of Minot has been on the rise in recent years, with code enforcement officials receiving 614 weed or grass complaints in 2017 and 782 complaints in 2018. This year, that number is tracking even higher, with 1,001complaints as of Aug. 20.
We discussed a specific case during the Aug. 19 City Council meeting, a discussion that made me think about ways to help familiarize the public with the issue of nuisances and how the City deals with them.
I’ll reiterate what I said during the Council meeting: While we don’t want to discourage residents from appearing before the Council, it’s probably not the most efficient way to have an informed discussion about a specific nuisance. If Council members are hearing about a resident’s unique situation for the first time at a Council meeting, with no background information for reference, the issue is likely not going to be solved that day. We want to make informed decisions, and that’s difficult to do without sufficient information.
Instead, I encourage the public to reach out to us and go through the formal process. That’s the most efficient and effective way to address the issue. According to City of Minot code, there are two processes for residents to appeal both the determination of a nuisance and the cost of the abatement.
When a resident receives a notice of a nuisance on their property, they first can appeal whether or not there is an actual nuisance. Under City ordinance, an appeal for a hearing with the city manager must be made within five days after the resident receives notice from the City. If the city manager agrees with the resident, then the issue is settled. If the city manager agrees with the City, the property owner has five days to abate the nuisance. If the nuisance isn’t abated by the owner, the City then has the right to abate the nuisance and assess the property owner to cover its cost.
A resident can also appeal the cost of an abatement already done by the City; this appeal must also be made to the city manager, who will determine whether or not the cost of an abatement should be reduced.
At the Aug. 19 meeting, Council members approved nuisance abatement lists for the past year. The list of weed abatements totaled $23,825.50, while the list for other nuisance abatements was $3,263.89. The list represents the properties the City abated for the 12-month period beginning Aug. 31, 2018, but has not received payment. The lists were certified by the Council and will be submitted to Ward County, and the costs will be added to the property tax of the owners of the parcels.
Certainly, everyone is aware that there is a growing number of empty lots in our community’s river valley. Some of these properties are owned by the City, others remain under private ownership. That’s led to an increase in the number of complaints we get, especially about tall grass and weeds overtaking properties. It’s challenging and expensive for the City to maintain its property, and having to abate nuisances on private property contributes to that challenge.
If you have a legitimate complaint about a piece of property, we encourage you to reach out to the City’s Public Works Department to make a report. You can also report issues online under “Report a Concern” with our request tracker at https://www.minotnd.org/requesttracker.aspx
But, remember there is an official and legal process that must play out before that nuisance can be abated. We take private property rights seriously, and must follow the letter of our ordinances. We recognize that the process might not be fast enough for some residents, but, again, property owners have rights in these cases.
Rest assured, we’re working to resolve the growing list of complaints as effectively as we can, but our code enforcement office is often overwhelmed with complaints, and that can lead to a backlog. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through the complaints, while at the same time recognizing the rights of all property owners.
Posted on August 13, 2019 at 3:16 PM by Derek Hackett
Tag(s): sincerely city hall, mayor, blog