Residents in Laurie filled the city hall to capacity on this past week urging the city to take over their aging streets for repair and maintenance. With a budget 14 percent below projections, the city is hard pressed to fix their own streets, let alone add more. Residents said they were told the city would take over their roads when they purchased their property. City officials reminded residents that roads have to be up to code to be adopted. Mayor Scott Fahrer said they would look into the matter to see what could be accomplished. A full look into the story can be found below.
Ozark Meadows Property Owners Association President Don Stanze addressed the Laurie Board of Aldermen on Tuesday, Sept. 9 requesting the city take over their aging streets, for the purpose of maintenance, repair and snow removal. Residents from both the Ozark Meadows and Wellington Woods subdivisions filled the hall to capacity, all with road repairs on their mind.
With a budget 14 percent below projections, the city of Laurie is hard pressed to find funds to fix their own roads, let alone take on new ones.
Ozark Meadows, located next to St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, was established in 1995. The 55-plus community contains 21 homes, and 14 lots, all within city limits of Laurie.
“We receive Laurie water and sewer, and we are on a fixed income, so we have limited funds to spend on our streets,” Stanze said. He added that Ozark Meadows homeowners had the understanding when they purchased their homes that the city would eventually assume the roads, and consequently, the maintenance. “We have come before the Laurie board before with this request, we’re not sure what happened?” he said. There are approximately one-half mile of roads in the subdivision.
Aldermen Greg Lux assured the residents that the board would go back and look at the minutes to find out what happened, confer with the city attorney, and then make an informed decision.
An aggravated Stanze informed the board that the residents pay vehicle taxes and they spend their money in Laurie, and therefore were entitled to have their streets maintained.
Lux reminded the board that in order for the city to take over a road the road has conform to city code so they didn’t end up having to build new roads at a great expense to taxpayers. Mayor Scott Fahrer inserted that most of the roads in Laurie do not conform to city code.
Wellington Woods, located off Chelsie Road, is in same quandary, residents have asked the city to take over their roads multiple times. Alderwoman Karen Dobbins reminded Wellington Woods residents at the meeting that last year the board told them the city could consider taking over their roads if they hired an engineer to test them to see if they comply with code. Neither the city nor the residents wanted to pay for an engineer, which according to Dobbins would cost approximately $1,500.
“Ed Young, (former Laurie Public Works Director) stood there almost every day (when the roads were paved in 2007) and watched the roads be put in,” Resident Mike Horgan alleged. “He did not tell anyone they were wrong, or they could not be accepted. Don’t you think your own employee would know if the roads were being done according to your code?” Horgan questioned the board. In a separate 2013 interview, Young responded to the allegation by saying that it would require a professional engineer’s test to accurately determine if the road were up to code.
Horgan added that two holes have appeared in the middle of the street where the sewer connects and he alleged that he had spoken with Young, who told him the sewer connection was leaking under the road. “We were also told the developer was going to fix the problem in the spring, now Young is gone, and the contractor is somewhere in Dakota, driving a dump truck.”
Mayor Fahrer suggested doing away with the street requirement ordinance. Lux and Dobbins inserted that the ordinance was there to protect the city from costly maintenance and repair of substandard roads.
“Whatever you do here, there will be consequences, this is very big,” City Attorney Steve Grantham said.
“We can do it a little at a time. We need to treat everyone the same no matter what subdivision they live in, or who they know, or how much money they have,” said Mayor Fahrer. He promised the residents the board would look into the matter to see what could be done.