Council discusses tree ordinance
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Amending the city’s tree ordinance, updates to the water distribution improvement project and a change in plans for a street improvement project were main items of discussion at the Tuesday, September 3 regular meeting of the Mount Ayr city council.
City superintendent Brent Wise recommended the city include language from Iowa Code in the city’s ordinance specifying who is responsible for maintaining and/or removing trees within the city limits.
The ordinance fundamentally states the city is responsible for the removal of damaged, diseased or dead trees on public property, including the right of way parallel to city streets.
Property owners are fully responsible for trees on their properties, including the trimming of branches that hang lower than eight feet above sidewalks and 15 feet above street surfaces.
A question arose concerning situations where property owners would be unable to afford, incapable (due to age or inability to pay) or unwilling to trim their trees.
Wise said the city could still come in and bring trees into compliance with the ordinance, but the money for such action would need to come out of the general fund, which is needed for other purposes. Plus, he said, tree trimmers are getting harder and harder to find and come with high fees.
It was suggested the city could enlist a trimming contractor for a certain length of time to cut tree branches hanging over sidewalks and streets, much as the utility companies currently do.
Wise asked how much the city is willing to spend to maintain trees beyond its responsibility as laid out in Code. Any cost would need to be covered by general fund dollars, which are needed for other projects.
No action was taken at Monday’s meeting. However, the city will research what contracting with a trimming company would cost.
Wise informed the council of two recent issues pertaining to the water distribution system improvement project.
He reported Jordan and Sons, the contractors for work on the west side of town, had hit a water main and a gas pipeline in the past week.
The contractors blamed faulty locator marking for the incidents.
After meeting with lead project engineer Mark Fincel, the contractors agreed to improve their performance and will have their work completed by the end of the construction season.
Wise further reported Jordan and Sons have 69.9 percent of the new piping installed with 12 percent pressure tested, 8.3 percent activated and 1.4 percent of water services installed.
Poe Construction has 47.3 percent of its piping installed, 18.2 percent pressure tested, 18.2 percent activated and 14.8 percent installed.
Crain Construction has 97.6 percent of its piping installed, 97.6 percent pressure tested but none has been activated or installed.
Wise informed the council that the asphalt contractor he had hoped would return to Mount Ayr this fall has undertaken a project in another city and will be unable to return this year.
In response, Wise asked the council to approve the application of concrete patches in short sections of various city streets.
Streets mentioned included West Madison, Valley West Drive, Jefferson, Jackson, East Madison, and West Street.
Money set aside for the potential asphalt work could be used to pay for a portion of the work with the balance to come from water funds.
In other business, the council:
• approved the final plat for the subdivision owned by Susan Kinney.
• set a public hearing for October 7 at 6 p.m. on designation of the Industrial Park Urban Renewal Area and on Urban Renewal Plan and Projects.
• approved the second reading of city ordinances dealing with conflicts of interest and council compensation.
• learned a dog had bitten a resident inside the city limits, prompting Wise to ask that the council revisit its animal ordinances at an upcoming meeting.
• received a copy of a new building permit template and fee schedule for their review.
• received quotes from the human resource firm of PJ Greufe and Associates for review and revision of the city’s human resource procedures and documents, including employee handbooks, job applications, performance reviews, chain of command and others.