Ditch measure dies on the table at City Council

Friday, August 10, 2018

Alta City Council voted to contribute to a rock park, settled their stance on tree removal, discussed community building revenue, and failed to pass a measure to address ditches at Monday's meeting.

The city responded to a request for a donation to the Freedom Rock Park being planned by Albert City's Chamber of Commerce. The park will feature painted rocks from each town in Buena Vista County, honoring veterans. The council unanimously approved Councilman Denny Weber's motion to contribute $500 and a large rock from Alta.

With inquiries into whether homeowners need city approval for tree treatment and ash tree removal, the city decided to clarify its stance. Trees, as inventoried by the city that have died or are dying, will be prioritized by the city for removal as needed at the city's expense.

The Streets and Sanitation Department is in talks with Earl May and is looking for potential grants or programs to subsidize the cost of tree replacement.

Mayor Clark cited city code, saying that the homeowner of adjoining city property is responsible for removing a tree stump within six months after the tree is cut down

"If they pay for it, they're more invested in taking care of it," Weber said. The city officially adopted the stance that it will not remove a tree on adjoining property unless it is dead or dying.

Mayor Al Clark wants the city to look into alternatives for the apartment/annex adjoining its community building. "Renting it out for $100 per month doesn't make any sense," he said, with similar real estate nearby going for much higher rates. He suggested advertising with real estate agents for office space or apartments to find businesses wanting to lease from the city. "We're not making enough money off of it," Clark said.

Other council members suggested that real estate agents wouldn't be interested in listing rentals due to lack of profitability, but were open to the suggestion of finding new uses for the space.

Code Enforcement officer Matt Hess expressed interest during his monthly report in purchasing a metal detector to assist in finding property lines.

Council members Vi Tilk and Willie Lang disapproved of the idea for reasons of city liability. Tilk said that the city should direct residents to a licensed land surveyor for their needs to avoid future issues. Hess said that a "hold harmless agreement," could allow the city to provide the service for a small fee for exploration purposes only, not for official use.

"With property lines, I would feel better if they got a surveyor in there," Tilk said. "I honestly don't think it's a very good idea." The council may discuss the matter at future meetings.

Updates on Westview Trailer Park by resident Tom Lane informed the city that residents have been "on strike" due to lack of improvements promised by the landlord with rate increases. Lane said that Westview was informed through attorneys that the landlord, Canadian resident Roy Worbets, could not legally raise the lot rent by $35 without hand-delivering written notice, which Lane said was not done.

Discussion to fill in ditches on Northeast 1st Street was single-handedly killed in its tracks. Vi Tilk cited concerns with paying back property owners who have already filled in similar ditches at their own expense. Clark said one had already asked for reimbursement.

Lang moved to direct the Streets and Sanitation Department to just get INS costs and a budget outline before moving forward. With Walsh not present and Weber abstaining, Tilk's no vote killed the measure, which needed a least three yes votes to continue. The measure cannot be brought up again on the agenda.

The next City Council meeting will be on Tuesday, September 4 at 6 p.m.

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