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Committee recommends Burr St. sidewalk snow relief for season

Mitchell City Hall. (Republic file photo)

Mitchell's Monday night weather was frightful, but also fitting for the discussion at hand for the Sidewalk Committee.

During a meeting at Mitchell's City Hall prior to the regular Mitchell City Council meeting, the Sidewalk Committee met to discuss who's responsible for clearing snow on the new walkways and bicycle trails on Burr Street. After some brief discussion, the committee unanimously recommended to have the city clear the sidewalks this season and keep track of the cost to plow private sidewalks.

Councilman Mel Olson was the first to offer his objections, saying the city clearing some sidewalk along the route and not clearing others is "not very neighborly."

And after Stan Peterson, representing Campbell's Supply, spoke to the board, Olson said he also wouldn't want to clear a sidewalk that's 100 feet away from his home.

"If you are asking me to plow sidewalk 100 feet away from my house, I'd be down here every day," Olson said.

The meeting Monday night took place despite nearly whiteout conditions outdoors. And the handful of concerned citizens who turned out for the committee meeting were met with good news after braving the weather.

During the major Burr Street renovation, sidewalks and bicycle trails have been added along the corridor, and more will be added during the second phase of the project. City ordinance states adjacent property owners are responsible for clearing snow, but the members of the Sidewalk Committee decided to give them a break for the upcoming winter.

Sidewalk Committee members include Olson and Councilmen John Doescher, Marty Barington and Jeff Smith. Barington was not in attendance Monday.

A substantial portion of the new sidewalk would have otherwise been required to be cleared by the adjacent landowners. Those interested in seeing who would have been responsible for each portion of the sidewalk can view the Sidewalk Committee agenda on the city of Mitchell's website.

While the committee voted to recommend the city clear the sidewalk, Johnson said the decision would undermine the city's ability to enforce the current snow and ice removal policy. He suggested crafting an ordinance to define "adjacent."

"We can't just selectively enforce it," Johnson said.

But, he said, the city could consider an ordinance that provides more fairness to property owners instead of the current ordinance.

"I think everybody here understands that there's certainly something about this that just doesn't seem to make sense and may not be fair, but we're talking about what the law says, too, and that's what I'm talking about, is what the law says," Johnson said.

Landowners will still be on the hook to clear snow following Monday's storm. At least for now.

City Attorney Justin Johnson said the issue may still be referable, and would not go into effect until approximately 20 days after final approval.

"Even if you took action tonight, the action may still be referable," Johnson said.

City Administrator Stephanie Ellwein and Johnson informed the council during the committee report about South Dakota Codified Law 1-27-1.18, which refers to the recommendations, findings and reports of an appointed working group that results from a committee, subcommittee, task force or other working group. It states that "The governing body shall delay taking any official action on the recommendations, findings, or reports until the next meeting of the governing board."

Consent agenda

The council approved the following consent agenda items:

• Minutes from the previous City Council meeting.

• A raffle permit from the Mitchell Technical Institute Sales and Advertising class, with the drawing to be held Dec. 15.

• Change Order No. 1 to Sidewalk Project No. 2017-4 Schedule 4, raising the total contract by $2,271.18 for new sidewalk on North Langdon Street, as well as valley gutter work.

• Change Order No. 3 to Paving & Overlay Project No. 2017-15 for $26,001.40 for additional asphalt.

• Automatic supplements, gas and fuel quotations and pay estimates.

• 2018 tax licenses for E-Z Ride Taxi and Palace Transit Express.

• Bills, payroll, salary adjustments, new employee hires and authorized payment of recurring and other expenses in advance as approved by the finance officer.

Other business

In other business, the council:

• Called the City Council meeting to order, conduct the Pledge of Allegiance, heard an invocation and approved a Sidewalk Committee report.

• During citizen input, Councilman Kevin McCardle said the Christmas lights on Main Street look nice.

• During project updates, Ellwein said the Third Avenue and Main Street private construction project is moving forward. Finance Officer Michelle Bathke informed the council that citizens can now pay their utility bill online. Information will go out in all December utility bills, and can be made by visiting https://www.municipalonlinepayments.com/mitchellsd.

• Approved the renewal of liquor and wine licenses for 2018.

• Set Dec. 18 as the date for a board of adjustment hearing to consider a conditional use permit request from Amber Kurtenbach to operate a family residential child care center in her home at 801 W. Seventh Ave.

• Approved contingency transfers and supplemental appropriations.

• Held a closed-door executive session to discuss personnel. No action was taken following the session.

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