ROCHESTER CITY COUNCIL NOTEBOOK Increased building fees to be implemented later

A slate of increased city building fees will be implemented a month later than previously planned.

The new fees take effect Oct. 1, under a plan the Rochester City Council approved Monday. The delay was prompted by objections from area builders.

The department is increasing fees 20 percent in an attempt to boost revenue and improve service at the Building Safety Department.

Lengthy turnaround time for approving plans and issuing permits has been a source of complaints for years, said department Director Ron Boose.

Delays have averaged two to six weeks, depending on the type of building plan.


With the new fees, the department will add another person to review plans and might upgrade its computer system to aid efficiency, Boose said.

Delaying the fee increase also delays the addition of the new plan reviewer, he said.

Contract awarded for Bandel Road project

Road Constructors, a Rochester firm, won a $1.6 million project to rebuild Bandel Road in northwest Rochester.

The firm was the lowest of two bidders for the project. The city council voted Monday to award the project to Road Constructors on condition that the Minnesota Department of Transportation also accepts the firm for the job.

Bandel Road, which serves as the east-side frontage road for U.S. 52, is being rebuilt between 57th and 65th streets. The work coincides with a $232 million reconstruction project on U.S. 52.

Federal funds are paying the lion's share of construction costs on Bandel Road. The city's share of the cost is about $63,000.

Emergency equipment gets council's green light


A project giving emergency vehicles the ability to control traffic lights while en route to emergencies was given the green light Monday by the council.

The council approved two contracts, totaling $466,000, to buy the needed equipment and have it installed at 123 city intersections.

The system allows emergency vehicles to use optical emitters, like a handheld garage door opener, to turn oncoming traffic lights green -- and turn traffic lights red for cross traffic -- as they speed to emergencies.

Rochester's equipment will include decoding equipment, meant to shut down scofflaws who have purchased third-party, handheld emitters to manipulate traffic signals.

The system will be installed later this year.

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