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MINUTES SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING MNDOT DEPARTMENT OF ROADS/MNDOT DEPARTMENT OF AERONAUTICS/CITY COUNCIL NOVEMBER 8, 2006 Mayor Jeff Thompson called the Special City Council meeting to order at 9:00 a.m. In attendance were, Dennis Zimmerman, Jeff Bertram, City Administrator Renee Eckerly, Airport Manager Ron Mergen, Chuck DeWolf and Ron Roetzel, Bolton & Menk, Inc.; City Attorney Bill Spooner, City Bookkeeper Gayla Orbeck, Mike Louis, Peter Buchen and Gene Scott, MN/DOT Aeronautics; Keith Voss, Paul Jurek, Jordan Schwarze and Lowell Flatten, MN/DOT Department of Roads; Mike Jacobson, Paynesville Press; Gretchen Schlosser West Central Tribune, State Representative Larry Hosch, Senator Michelle Fischbach, Gene Beavers, Mike Flanders, Robert McDaniel, Stanley Yarmon, Don Pietsch, Dave Lange, Larry Alstead, Harold Eastrday, Dick Johnson, Mark Guenther, Joel Burr, Phyllis Nielsen, Michael Putzke, Harry Thielen, Chuck Koshiol, Tiff Wolff, Jason VerSteeg, Steve Brown, Kevin Kern, Randy Kern, Todd Burlingame, Larry Ellis, Doris Wendlandt, Harlan Beek, Chris Stanley, and Steve Whitcomb. Thompson explained that this meeting would be handled similar to a public hearing. No decisions would be made explaining that full council was not present. The two council members that were absent would be given an opportunity to review the tape and be brought up to speed on the discussions. All questions from the audience should be written down and given to Thompson to be read. Peter Buchen, Manager of the Airport Development Section of MN/DOT Aeronautics started by saying they are working with MN/DOT Department of Roads and questioned how much communication there was between the Airport Commission and the City at the time the airport decisions were made. Buchen stated that the zoning for the airport is equal to the length of the runway and that Mike Louis would talk more about the zoning later. He further stated that Zone A restricts all structures, in a prefect world there would be nothing including roads in Zone A. Zone B is 1/3 density requirement including residences and businesses. Clearance requirements are also part of the zoning. Design and types of aircraft dictate the slope. If the airport should desire to grow the proximity of things at the end of the runway limits our ability to grow. The power line on the west limits the ability to grow in that direction. Buchen then asked for Ron Roetzel’s input. Bertram commented that he would be more interested in hearing MN/DOT’s position at this time and that the Council can hear from the City’s Engineers on the City’s time. Thompson stated that the airport plan was approved with the idea that the airport could expand to 4,000 feet to the west with the power line there. Buchen stated that he was here 5 years ago in that same discussion. Thompson asked if the ability to expand was there at that time. Buchen asked Mike Louis to respond. Mike Louis, Aviaition Planning Director, Airport Zoning Administrator State Airport System, explained that 2/3 of the 4,000 foot runway is Zone A and 1/3 is Zone B to provide open space. Louis stated that the highway is not the issue as much as raised elevations, structures, fences and light poles which are more of a concern than trees. Louis stated he sees the role of the old highway as a frontage road which could put pressure on the city for development; bringing more structures into Zone A. The Airport Zoning Ordinance is what makes the airport eligible for State Aid. The City’s Airport Zoning Ordinance stated no structures in Zone A Louis stated that there is 20 million dollars of public funding both Federal and State with only 7 to 8 million for construction. Louis commented that the old original airport goes back to approximately 1947 opening with three runways. The first runway closed shortly after the airport opened and the second closed in the 1950’s because of development pressure. In the early 80’s the development of surrounding land forced the state to withdraw the license changing the status to a private airport. Louis stated there is a history lesson here of what could happen. Louis further stated that a business jet requires a 5,000 foot runway. Louis stated that this is not a typical situation, a conflict with airport and highway. He mentioned two in fifteen years those being Bemidji and Owatonna. Bemidji lost several lawsuits challenging their zoning ordinance. The community was forced to allow additional development because they did not have the funds to pursue every lawsuit. Owatonna had elevation issues that cost them $200,000 to adjust the grade of the runway. Louis stated that there is sometimes a lack of communication between city officials, officials from airport committees, public works, or other groups that look at the airport. Thompson stated that he was not convinced that possible development pressures for Zone A and B are an issue. He further stated that the City Council knows the City has limitations as to entrances, but it is mostly school property with no room for development. Thompson stated he wondered if this was some type of a diversion to draw us away from the real issue. Louis stated that without relocating the power line the runway could not be expanded to 5,000 feet to the west. Zimmerman stated that these issues were looked at the time and that he wants to understand how we can come to a resolution to get the road built. We are not any closer than we were a year ago. Zimmerman further stated that the Airport Commission evaluated these issues years ago in the design phase and ordinance. Louis stated the future of the airport runway is 4,000 feet. The future could bring potential changes. What you are seeing here is what you get. The state would like to see the City update the airport master plan every seven years. Thompson stated, but we cannot provide a 5,000 foot runway. Bertram asked why is the existing Highway 23 as it is not a problem, but as a frontage road it would be. Louis stated it’s the possible pressure for future development. It depends on the role of the new highway. Bertram stated we need to be cautious with that section of the highway. Thompson asked if in Zone A there were no raised elevations and structures, would there be an issue. Louis stated it is automatically an issue. The closer to the airport the higher the potential of accidents. FAA and the Department of Aeronautics do not like to see major highways right off the end of the runway. The intent of Zone A is to minimize the impact of accidents. Bertram stated he would like to hear from MN/DOT Department of Roads. Chuck Koshiol stated that obviously this is going to be a good place to develop, but the zoning says no. We want this to be a major intersection. Lowell Flatten stated that modifications, that will satisfy Aeronautics, can be made. MN/DOT is going to do what we need to to make this west alignment work. Bertram clarified that we means both MN/DOT Roads and MN/DOT Aeronautics. Thompson asked what are the limits on height for the light poles. Flatten stated MN/DOT may have to move ramps to get out of Zone A. Possibly flatten ditch slopes in Zone A and lighting is still an issue. Thompson asked a question from the audience about limits of grade levels and poles in Zone A. Louis stated that the decision points of the ramps need to be lighted and if it is outside of Zone A it is not an issue. The lights could provide a distraction to the pilots. Bertram stated that his experience with MN/DOT is that one is always told no, can’t do it but, after much back and forth and many meetings there is always a compromise. Louis stated that after their meeting with MN/DOT Department of Roads yesterday; they came away with a commitment to take a good hard look at what we can do to make this work. Bertram thanked MN/DOT for being here. Bertram stated that he did not think this was the City’s problem. He is glad to see the two departments communicating now and the City will be here to help, but MN/DOT needs to work this out. He further stated he was glad Mr. Louis did not say quite as directly as in other meetings that the City could potentially jeopardize the public money and that the City may have to turn the airport into a private airport. Bertram commented on Mr. Louis’s statement that the City knew the highway was going to go there and despite that decision the City put the airport there anyway. Bertram further stated that we don’t even know today exactly where the highway is going to be. Steve Whitcomb stated that he was happy that the two divisions of MN/DOT will be able to cooperate and allow the highway to be put here. He further stated that in the future according to articles he has read a jet may be able to land on a shorter field. A 5,000 foot runway will probably not happen here. The airport was approved with MN/DOT Department of Aeronautics office at the time. Whitcomb further stated that the expansion to 4,000 feet was planned with the land purchased and zoning done to accommodate it and the power line was lowered to accommodate this. Steve Brown stated that the City needs to be very cautious to not do anything to jeopardize what the City wants to get here someday. The lights from the highway will cause aviation problems more so than the highway itself. Buchen stated that they are aware that a 4,000 foot runway was the decision of a prior City Council; but priorities do change and Councils change. Bertram asked if anyone was present from the Highway 23 Task Force. Thompson stated no, it was two short of notice. Bertram stated he was disappointed they were not represented as this is a regional issue and someone should be here to help us work out what has become a little problem. Whitcomb stated that the City has already had their first go around on the development issue and the airport zoning with the new Supervalu building. Stan Yarmon asked that MN/DOT please keep the intersection as close to town and existing businesses as possible. Chuck Koshiol agreed. Steve Brown suggested that the on and off be at Cemetery Road Flatten commented that that option had already been explored and that was not an option. Bertram stated that the Council needs a memo from Bolton & Menk on their take on this situation for the November 15 meeting. Harold Easterday asked why the on and off has to be a ramp. Why not a stop light as requested by a petition signed sometime ago by approximately 85 people. This stop light would give an opportunity to come into town. Easterday felt that their concerns had not been addressed. Zimmerman stated that the issue had been reviewed and presented to MN/DOT. The City has been looking out for the businesses. Flatten stated that a stop light is not an option. The purpose of highway bypass is to move traffic and minimize travel time. Flatten further stated that the City did negotiate two more ramps for easy access to the City. Two questions presented from the audience were how does the MN/DOT plan to fix this problem and is the conflict with Hwy 23 more vertical (as in structures) than horizontal. These questions were answered in the presentation. There being no further questions, Thompson thanked everyone for their input and adjourned the meeting at 10:10 a.m.
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