NEW ULM - The New Ulm City Council approved Tuesday a dual method approach for gaining the right to build the proposed permanent flood levee along the Minnesota River on private property.
City Manager Brian Gramentz explained that during a meeting held with affected landowners on Feb. 16, he learned that residents in the section from 9th South Street to 14th South Street preferred to be dealt with through easements. Residents in 14th South Street to 19th South Street preferred to be handled through buyouts of the affected portion of their property. He explained that the residents preferring easements had long segments of property reaching back to the river, so buyouts would effectively half the property they own. He said that property owners who preferred buyouts were closer to the river and had less property to lose.
Gramentz told the Council that the optimal method would be to authorize city officials to seek easements for 9th South Street to 14th South Street and to seek buyouts from 14th South Street to 19th South Street for the project.
New Ulm resident Mike Hasse spoke during the public comment segment, asking why properties in the segment from approximately 13th South Street to 15th South Street were being bought out. He said he was concerned that the properties would benefit from the levee despite being far enough from the river to have no flood risk.
Gramentz responded that future special assessments would require proof of benefit, which would be difficult to show for properties that lacked immediate flood risk. He said that uniform buyouts for all properties in the area, regardless of how close they were to the river, made the action fair and dealt with any possible legal issues.
In other action, the Council also set the date for the public hearing on the proposed permanent levee for Tuesday, April 3 at 7 p.m at City Hall. The date was moved from its original date in March to allow maximum time for affected residents to consider offers and assessments on their section of affected property. The hearing will start at 7 p.m.
The City Council meeting for April 3 will start at its normal 5 p.m. time.
(Josh Moniz can be e-mailed at email@example.com)