Wall to be added to city hall office

File photo
The Vergas City Council approved offers recommended by KLJ to provide to four landowners along Townline Road.

By Barbie Porter


   The Vergas City Council reviewed proposed easement costs for Townline Road during the monthly Vergas City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

  The road has been under review by the city council, as it became a city road by default (years of public use and city maintenance). However, the road easement still need to be obtained so the city crew could legally cut brush and other hazards that impede on the road right of way.

   When a city crew member tried to cut branches from the ditch area, a landowner opened discussion on having the city purchase a property easement for such maintenance.

   Councilman Bruce Albright, who is appointed on the planning commission, noted landowners were gracious to allow the city to cut brush over the road while the land easement deal was hashed out. 

He reported the easement is 33 feet from the center line, but didn’t include the portion that is already a road surface. The city acquired that land through decades of public use. Calculations for easements were made by the city engineering firm KLJ. Albright said land types and market values were part of the formula used to create the calculations, which ranged from about $126 to $3,490. Once the amounts were determined, certified letters were sent to the four landowners through the city attorney’s office.

The city attorney said he would also send letters to the landowners through the regular mail.

The city council agreed if the landowners approved the easement amounts offered, the city would pay about $8,010 total for the four easements. The council approved paying for the easements, once approved.

Wall to be added to city hall office

Contributed photo
Vergas City Councilman Logan Dahlgren listens to discussion during the monthly meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 8. The screens behind him show what those attending a Zoom meeting see. On the left is Vergas City Clerk Julie Lammers and on the right a view of the audience attending the meeting.

The city council approved installing a wall and door in the city hall office. Currently the space is a single room where the deputy clerk and city clerk work. Vergas City Clerk Julie Lammers said when conversations with sensitive information need to be had, finding that secure space is a challenge. Creating a second office in the current space would provide the necessary privacy.

Two estimates for the construction work were received with the lower of the two bids coming from Vergas’ own Summer’s Construction with a bid of $5,600. 

The council also considered installing another phone line. Currently the city hall and the liquor store share the same line. Arvig was contacted for quotes and proposed transferring to an internet-based phone. The option included phone service at the city-shop, event center, city office and liquor store. Lammers was asked to get a quote for only the city office and liquor store.

Ordinance updates in the works

Albright added the planning commission is also reviewing the city’s ordinance dealing with grass and weeds, snowmobiles and sidewalks.

He said the city’s weed and grass ordinance ran into issues as there are a variety of land uses, from agriculture to woods, more typical city lots to wetlands. Having the same expectation for all of them didn’t seem feasible to the planning commission. Albright said they reviewed and modified it. The planning commission requested the council move the ordinance update forward to a public hearing before consideration of adoption. The council approved and set the public hearing for March 8 at 6:30 p.m., which will be the first item on the agenda for the monthly council meeting.

Albright reported the planning commission is reviewing the city’s snowmobile ordinance to make it more friendly. They are also reviewing potential routes in city limits for the winter recreational vehicles.

As for the sidewalks ordinance, Albright said the city rule is not to push snow into the street. However, downtown, business have little option but to remove the snow from the sidewalk to place it in the street. The planning commission is reviewing the ordinance to give guidance as to when snow could be placed on Main Street. Albright said some city’s have a time frame, so the city crew can make a final pass to remove remaining snow and not spend time making multiple passes. He noted they are considering proposing a similar policy to the city council.

To remove the snow, the city has a payloader and other equipment. The city also has a small fleet of vehicles, including a 2005 pick up that is schedule for replacement this year. City Utilities Superintendent Mike DuFrane is viewing used and new 1-ton pickups and 3/4-ton pickups. 

In other news

• Noted the advertising contract to be on the Vergas Event Center sign expired. The event center committee recommended providing those who previously advertised with first dibs to renew with another $3,000 contract for three years. If one of the past advertisers opt out, then the advertisement opportunity would be opened up to other businesses. In addition to the advertisement cost, it was noted there is a cost for having a sign made that would be installed on the electronic sign. The sign is located on the main thoroughfare, Pelican Avenue.

Lammers said the committee also fielded requests for renting the sign for a notification, as not all were aware that is an option. She said for $15 the sign can be rented for a day to have a message run, be it happy birthday wishes, anniversary announcements, wedding proposals or other.

• The Vergas Lions were removed from the Vergas Event Center Contract, so those renting the facility would be responsible for providing liquor liability insurance, or the business providing the service would.

• The council was made aware of updates to the city’s personnel policy, which were recommended by the League of Minnesota Cities. The changes were approved by the council. The policy is available in the city office for review.