Council moves forward to make street public

The New Prague City Council decided to move forward with a request to make Jillian Street SE into a public street, at its Monday, Nov. 18, meeting.

While council member Dave Bruzek voted in favor of the request, he expressed misgivings about the move.

"Two wrongs don’t make a right," he told the council and the 20 people gathered for the meeting, most property owners along the street. He didn’t think that the first decision years ago to allow private streets like Jillian Street was a good one and that now making the private street into a public one was not a good idea. He felt they were pushing off the issue onto future home owners.

The council had been presented with the request at its October 21 meeting. The issue was tabled to allow City Attorney Scott Riggs time to examine it.

Riggs was asked about the effects to home owners south of the street, whose property abuts it in terms of assessments and reconstruction of the street and the changing of setbacks as it relates to fences, shed and pools.

Riggs responded that the best potential solution to preserve the status quo for the five lots with property abutting Jillian Street would be an ordinance. It would essential state that the lots would not be treated as having double- frontage on a public street. The ordinance would also state that the setbacks for the properties would be as it is now, preserving them.

Planning Director Ken Ondich recommended the council not accept the portion of Jillian Street SE as a public street. One main reason was that a water main is located under the north curb of the street. The second reason is there would be problems with snowplowing the street, as it is narrower then the majority of the city’s streets.

Mayor Chuck Nickolay asked whether the ordinance would also apply to property owners along the next section of private street. City Administrator Mike Johnson said the property owners to the east were not part of this request, but the ordinance could be used as a model if they made a future request. Nickolay said he has had inquiries from home owners to the east. He felt this could at least set some type of precedent.

Public Works Manager Glen Sticha said to fix or eventually replace the water line, crews would have to go into private property. Another aspect that would have to be covered is the sprinkler systems in the residents’ yards.

Council member Shawn Ryan asked about the water main, if the city could get an approval from the property owners for a 10-foot easement and if they have to go further into the yards. Ondich said they could do that if the request moved forward.

The council and residents of Jillian Street SE discussed plowing the street. There was concern from residents about fences along the route and who would be responsible if they were damaged.

Sticha said if an item is outside the right of way the city’s policy was that it was not responsible. He said that it would be extremely odd circumstances if a fence were damaged.

Ryan felt it was unlikely that would happen, but he thought the city should replace a fence. The work to make the street public includes surveying, pavement sub-base testing and seal coating.