Council pledges to fix development's street access
ZUMBROTA — Though a potential agreement remains at least a few weeks away, the Zumbrota City Council expressed unanimous support Thursday for residents who showed up en masse to demand standard road access to the Highlands of Zumbrota housing development, which was approved in 2003.
The issue has been simmering for years, but it's heated up because at least two residents are considering suing the city for inaction. Residents currently drive through a narrow access road connected to the Zumbrota Golf Club parking lot.
Mayor Richard Bauer laid out three potential resolutions. Two would need approval from the golf course. The entire city council plans to attend the golf course board's next meeting, on June 10.
The three proposals are:
• Developer Joel Bigelow has offered to trade two lots of land with the golf course in exchange for an easement that would allow a city road connecting the eastern portion of the housing development to the west side. The land exchanged would be 1.1 acres for 1 acre. Bigelow has dropped his stipulation that the club's sheds be removed. Bauer identified this as the city's preferred option. The city would construct the 500-foot street.
• Request that the golf course allow a road easement until the north portion of Bigelow's development is completed, which could be years away.
• Pave the current gravel road north of 435th Street. Half a mile would remain gravel.
It's unclear how much each option would cost, where the funding would come from or how the golf course will respond.
"It's an issue that has waited too long to (be fixed) and here it is," council member Dale Hinderaker said. "We need to deal with it as quickly as we can."
Council member Sara Durhman said, "There needs to be a road. The difficulty we've had negotiating this doesn't reflect the city's stance very well. We want to build a road."
Highlands resident Fred Roberson, who moved in last week, is one of two residents who has talked about suing the city. If the matter isn't resolved within about 10 months, he said, he will try to get residents involved in a class action lawsuit.
"Driving through that parking lot is like driving through the arena at a demolition derby — and that's just to go home," the 74-year-old man said.
Zumbrota-Mazeppa schools Superintendent Tony Simons, who lives in the Highlands, also spoke out against the current access. He said that the 14 schools in the Hiawatha Valley League had a conference meeet at the Zumbrota Golf Club on Thursday, which increased the danger. Fourteen buses and hundreds of high school kids were on or around the course as many residents were trying to drive through its parking lot after work.
"As a homeowner, I do think the people who own that property deserve a street — I really do," Simons said. "As a superintendent of schools, there is a huge, huge safety issue there.
"It's kind of embarrassing, to be honest with you."