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Hancock City Council undecided about plowing

There are potentially only three months until the snow could be flying again in this area and the Hancock City Council is still undecided as to how the snow removal in the city will be done.

In June the council learned that the orange dump truck, used for plowing, would not pass Department of Transportation inspection without some repairs. Public Works Director Vern Christie presented an estimate for the repairs of $1,100. After considerable discussion, the city council members decided to look at other options rather than put more money into the aging equipment.

A couple of options discussed then was to purchase another used truck with plow attachment or look into having the county plow the city streets. They eventually learned the county would not take on plowing Hancock streets.

In July another discussion took place about replacing the equipment. At that meeting, council members instructed Christie to get bids on a different grader that could be used for plowing snow and grading gravel streets and alleys. They would then sell the current grader and the Ford tractor.

At the meeting on Monday night, Christie presented the bids he received for graders. The news was not good. Graders anywhere near the price range considered, ran from $35,000 to $90,000 with well over 10,000 hours. They were 1992 to 1995 models. Council members were aware that purchasing a piece of equipment at this age and usage level could also mean lots of repairs.

Christie told the council members that he contacted MnDOT to see if they would have any plows available. He learned that next year they planned to sell four 1998-2000 trucks with plows and estimated a price range of $11,000 - $12,500. This seemed like the best option but would not solve the problem for this year.

After more discussion, Christie was instructed to get additional prices for trucks and the matter was tabled until next month.

Zoning map

A new zoning map for the city was reviewed by the council members. City Clerk Andrea Swenson has been working on distinguishing areas of the community as residential, commercial, parks and agriculture. She had a few questions about certain areas such as homes where businesses are also included.

The need for the zoning map was questioned. Several years ago the council approved new ordinances and in those ordinances there is reference to a zoning map. However, the zoning map does not exist.

City Attorney Neil Simonson told the city council that once an area is designated, it can be changed if needed in the future. All that is needed is a majority vote of the council. The map is simply an outline of how the areas will correlate with city ordinances.

It was decided that the council members would individually look at the map and then allow the public to review it before adoption.

Seventh street

There was more discussion about issues about the 7th street extension to Highway 9. Council members learned that Hancock Economic Development Authority is ready to proceed with obtaining money to build senior housing on the corner of Belle Ave. and 7th Street. They are waiting for a plan for the building in order to determine the lot line.

A bid was approved from Jepma Backhoe to install tile along 7th Street to Pleasant Ave. and connecting to a storm drain near the compost pile. This is to remove water from the road and hopefully prevent the road from breaking apart in the future.

The council was informed that light poles could be added along the street. Otter Tail would install five poles from Belle Avenue to Highway 9. This would cost the city $40 in additional light pole rent each month. The council members decided to not install the lights at this time.

An estimate for trees to be planted on the north side of 7th Street was presented and tabled by the council. The landowner is willing to enter into a program to plant the shelter strip which in the future should help catch the snow. This will be discussed further, possibly at the January meeting.

Other action

* Bids were received for sealcoating, patching and resurfacing 285th Street from 6th Street to County Road 2. The upkeep of this tarred road, which is in the city limits, is shared with Moore Township. After reviewing the bids it was decided to patch and sealcoat with the city, township and property owner sharing the cost.

* Police Chief Don Heikinnen told the council members that the squad car is in and he has had a lot of people comment about how nice it looks. He thanked the council for the new vehicle.

* A bid was approved to fix a portion of Jefferson Avenue between 4th Street and 6th Street. One of the property owners along the stretch will share the cost with the city. It is hoped that by the city spending $5,400 to do the repair, it will fix the problem in that area. A bid to fix Jefferson Avenue from 7th to 8th streets was tabled.

* The high water intact levels at the sewer ponds were discussed at length. Several issues could be causing this including too much water going down floor drains and discharging sump pump into drains. The 15 inches of rainfall this summer could also be an issue. The city will need to file a petition with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to allow an additional discharge of the ponds, which according to regulations, is a violation. Council discussed possibly hiring a firm to look into ways of solving this issue. However, they also were aware that the abnormal weather this summer could be part of the problem.

The city council will hold a special meeting on August 24 to review the budget for next year.