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City ups blight penalties

NEW ULM — The New Ulm City Council authorized amending Chapter 8 of the New Ulm City Code to enhance penalties for multiple violations of the blight code, Tuesday.

In September, the Blight Committee discussed the problem of multiple violations of the blight ordinance by the same property owner. The committee recommended that the council amend the appropriate provisions of the code.

The change would create a graduated scale of fines for multiple violations over 12 months. The first violation carries a $100 fine, the second offense, $300, and the third, $500.

City Attorney Roger Hippert said there are repeat offenders who deposit garbage or junk on the property in violation of the blight ordinance. After police are contacted and a fine is given, the area will be cleared, only for the blight condition to immediately return.

The council agreed with the committee’s ordinance recommendation.

Councilor David Christian said the fine needed to hurt enough to prevent blight violators continually abusing the ordinance.

Councilor Les Schultz said many of the same names keep appearing on the list of violators, which is frustrating to the neighbors of blight properties.

Christian made the motion authorizing a draft ordinance to amend the code. The motion was unanimously approved.

The city received multiple comments regarding the Jefferson Street assessments during a public hearing on the final assessment rolls for the 2018 Utility, Street and Alley Improvements.

Last year, Jefferson Street from 5th to 7th North Street was reconstructed, including improvements to the water main, sanitary sewer, water end services and reconstruction of the existing roadway, concrete curb, gutter, concrete driveway pavement and sections of the sidewalk.

Bradley Domeier said after the repairs, water began pooling on the sidewalk in front of his property because of a dip.

Councilor Les Schultz said he received a letter from another North Jefferson resident with concerns about the boulevard reconstruction. A lack of fill material has created deep depressions along the curb and sidewalk. The individual in the letter said he was forced to add fill himself to mow the property.

Schultz said he received other calls regarding a lack of fill, creating an uneven property. Schultz said he walked the two blocks of North Jefferson and saw additional depressions.

City Engineer Steve Koehler said the sod was placed in this location last October, but his department had only learned of these problems this month. He said this project is under warranty with the contractor and will be fixed.

The council ultimately approved the final assessment rolls.

The council designated polling places for the 2020 election. The polling places are Redeemer Lutheran Church for Ward 1, New Ulm Community Center for Ward 2, New Ulm Civic Center for Ward 3 and St. John’s Lutheran Church for Ward 4.

Due to future construction schedules for the RENU projects at Vogel Arena, the staff is recommended that St. John’s Lutheran Church be designated as the polling place site for Ward 4 during the 2020 election.

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