Townline Rd. easements recommended

By Barbie Porter


File photos
The Vergas Planning Commission approved a construction permit for 105 Main Avenue, pending council approval of a variance for parking requirements.

The Vergas Planning Commission reviewed a construction permit at 105 Main Avenue, and approved it.

The plan that was presented by the developers (Tyler and Heather Schmid and Jeff and Wendy Zitzow) met all city codes. 

The building offers commercial spaces on the main floor, as well as one apartment that is handicapped accessible. The top floor has additional apartments.

There was discussion about parking, as there is an ordinance that requires two parking spots per apartment, of which there are eight. More parking spots are required depending on the number of employees for each business.  

Commission member Bruce Albright, who is also on the council, suggested looking into diagonal parking along First Avenue South. 

Vergas City Clerk Julie Lammers said a variance is being sought regarding the parking ordinance. She noted a public hearing is set for Oct. 12 to address the variance request.

The commission approved the construction permit for the building, subject to the parking variances being approved by the city council.

Commission recommends council obtain easements

The commission met with Hobart Township officials to discuss the future of Townline Road. Both parties have stated they do not foresee paving the road in the near future.

The city of Vergas shares the road and maintenance with Hobart Township. The township takes care of grading and gravel work in the summer and the city tends to snow removal. The entities share costs based on how much of the road each entity owns. Vergas owns 3/4 of the road, while Hobart Township owns 1/4.

For years the entities have maintained the road for public use, as well as trimmed back tree branches to prevent limbs from creating a hazard on the road. When the city maintenance crew went out to trim trees, a landowner opposed, as the workers needed to access the ditch area owned by the family to reach the branches extending into the road.

Tree trimming is needed along Townline Road for safety of those traveling on the public road.

Albright stated the landowner, Keith Bunkwoske, asked for proof that the road had been dedicated and to show proof the city had rights to be on his property through an easement.

Recently, the city held a public hearing as part of the road dedication process. During the hearing, it was stated the meeting was a formality. The city’s attorney at the time (who has since retired), explained the road has been used by the public and maintained by the city for many years, thus making it a city-owned road. However, an easement would be needed to access the ditch area for maintenance. The attorney reportedly told the city maintenance department they can trim trees above the road surface, if need be.

The commission has looked at obtaining a 33-foot easement on each side of the road, and it was suggested to ask for a land agreement to trim trees that overhang on the road. The commission agreed to recommend the council move forward with obtaining a right-of-way for the road.

Albright noted during the public hearing, the most prevalent question was about future plans for the road. Concerns over the cost of assessments should the road be paved were expressed from a majority of the land owners along the road. The landowners also wondered if the township had plans to pave the road.

Hobart Township Clerk Debi Moltzan attended the commission meeting. She stated the township went through the dedication process for Townline Road around the year 2011. Right-of-way easements were also obtained.

Moltzan stated, “The Township has no plans to do anything to that road.”

Albright added he was not aware of any plans for the road as far as the city.