Cambridge Council approves ‘12 street improvement project

The Cambridge City Council is moving forward with plans for the $5.8 million 2012 street improvement project.

During the council meeting Monday, Dec. 19, the council approved a motion ordering the improvement and preparation of plans; accepted a proposal from SEH, Inc. for the preparation of plans at a cost not to exceed $273,500, and approved a resolution approving the special assessment roll.

The Council held two public hearings on the street improvement project during the council meeting.

Its motion also included continuing the public hearings until its meeting in January in regard to the DNR property and the Regional Treatment Center property. The city wanted to make sure the owners of those two properties had been correctly notified of the assessments. Only people relating to those specific properties will be allowed to speak at the public hearing in January.

A few property owners spoke during the public hearings. Some had questions regarding the project, and others had questions regarding the assessments. City Engineer Todd Blank went over the project in detail, and also explained the city’s assessment policy.

The project consists of improving the streets and some underground utilities located on S. Dellwood St. from 1st Ave. East to 11th Ave. SE, 11th Ave. South from East Rum River Drive to Carriage Hills Drive, East Rum River Drive from 11th Ave. SW to 18th Ave. SW, 18th Ave. SW from East Rum River Drive to South Main Street, Scidmore Parkway from 18th Ave. SW to approximately 800 feet south, 13th Ave. SW from South Dellwood Street to South Main Street, Horseshoe Drive west of South main Street, Old South Main Street from 11th Ave. SE to 16th Ave. SE, South Adams Street from 11th Ave. SE to 16th Ave. SE, 14th Ave. SE from Old South Main Street to South Adams Street, and Carriage Hills Drive from 11th Ave. SE to South Adams Street.

Total estimated project costs are $5.8 million. The proposed project funding consists of various city funds of $4,859,285 (approximately 84 percent) and special assessments of $940,715 (approximately 16 percent) to the adjacent properties that benefit from the improvements. Approximately 159 parcels are being assessed for the project.

Blank explained the assessments will be due for payment by Oct. 15, 2012 and if not paid by then, they will be certified to Isanti County to be included with property tax payments beginning in 2013 with an annual interest rate of approximately 5 percent.

Blank explained assessment rates for single family residential: reconstruction, 5,850 per lot; payment replacement, $2,400 per lot and mill and overlay, $1,600 per lot.

Assessment rates for multi-family residential: 8-plex, $14,625 (2.5 units) and 12-plex, $17,550 (3 units). Assessment rates for commercial and industrial properties are individually determined

If a property owner is assessed $1,600, their annual payment will be $209.50. If they are assessed $2,400 their annual payment will be $314.50 and if assessed $5,850, their annual payment will be $765.50. Blank reiterated these figures are based on a maximum interest rate of 5 percent, with the final interest rate yet to be determined.


SunOpta Citizen’s Advisory Group 

Cambridge resident Neil Anderson spoke during the Citizen’s Forum portion of the meeting regarding issues with the SunOpta facility.

Anderson is a part of SunOpta Citizen’s Advisory Group that was appointed by the city council approximately three years ago.

Anderson explained last fall, city staff and the advisory group met to discuss on-going problems with SunOpta. He said at that time all parties agreed that the issues were getting better, but there was still work to be done.

Anderson explained at the direction of city staff, the advisory group gathered signatures from property owners around SunOpta indicating they still feel there are noise, odor and dust issues with the facility. Anderson said 105 signatures were collected. He said the group wasn’t allowed access into the Town Square Apartment Complexes that are located directly south of SunOpta.

Anderson said he recently met with SunOpta’s V.P. of Innovation and Sustainability, and discussed the group’s concerns. He explained he will also visit with the new V.P. of  SunOpta Ingredients Group when he officially begins.

Anderson said there are still a lot of “unhappy residents out there” regarding SunOpta and the advisory group is going to keep moving forward and take action.

As a result of Anderson’s presentation, Mayor Marlys Palmer brought up SunOpta during her mayor’s report.

“I’m concerned with the language that the group will take action,” Palmer said.

Council Member Dave Schornstein said as a city and a council, he feels it would be best to distance themselves from the group. Schornstein said he feels SunOpta has worked hard to meet the demands of the advisory group.

Council Member Bob Shogren said based on Anderson’s presentation, he feels the advisory group may get involved with some type of litigation. He said SunOpta has done everything in its ability to make sure it complies with city ordinances.

Council Member Chris Caulk said he doesn’t feel the city should be involved with any type of civil action against the company. He said the city should only be involved if the company is violating some type of zoning regulations.

Following discussion, the council approved a motion to disband the SunOpta Citizen’s Advisory Group.

– By Rachel Kytonen