New Prague Council sets public hearing to vacate undeveloped street

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

At its Monday meeting, the New Prague City Council accepted a petition to vacate a portion of Sixth Street SE, and set August 21 for a public hearing to discuss the undeveloped street, located off of Central Avenue South.

Tom and Jean Hangaard and Dick and Lenore Krava, who live on Central Avenue on opposite sides of the street in question, brought the petition to the council. They are neighbors to Brent Wiebusch, who uses the undeveloped street to reach a garage on his property. The area had been set aside for a street, but plans were never made to continue developing it.

The Hangaards and the Kravas said the road has had an impact on their properties. They felt that it has devalued their property. They said since it isn't a street, it's not maintained by the city and if there were no plans to develop it, it should be vacated.

In a letter to the city, Wiebusch, who lives on First Street SE, said the property was brought to his attention about two years ago. He found out from city staff there was a 40-foot wide strip ending in his backyard. He worked with city staff and adjacent property owners to make some minor improvements, which included trimming trees, building a retaining wall and hauling in fill.

Tom Hangaard said that some branches were cut down, but they cleared them away.

New Prague City Administrator Jerry Bohnsack was asked what the options would be if the street was vacated. He said a public hearing would be needed and there were a variety of options of how the city could handle the street. If it was vacated the land would be split between the adjacent property owners.

The Kravas and Hangaards asked if Wiebusch had a permit to build the garage.

New Prague City Planner Renee Christianson said that Wiebusch initially didn't have a permit for the garage, but he did apply for one. Since he had already begun work on the garage when he received the permit, he had to pay a double fee.

The neighbors were concerned about the safety of children and pets with the road there. They suggested that Wiebusch access the garage off of First Avenue South.

Conditional Use Permit

The council approved a Conditional Use Permit for Greg Sayler for a combined shop/garage on property located along Highway 13/21. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission had earlier recommended approval.

Sayler's building would be 44 feet by 54 feet and would replace the old Delrose Tool and Die building. It would require a variance on the front setback.

Mayor Craig S. Sindelar questioned the use of the variance. He had received questions from residents who had earlier looked at purchasing the property, but didn't because of the setback requirements. While the land was a unique piece of property, Sindelar didn't think a variance was something they should take lightly when approving.

Councilmember Kay Wilcox said the planning commission had talked with Sayler about moving the building up. Originally, Sayler's plan was to either have the building go into the wetland behind the structure or remove the corner of the garage/ shop so it wouldn't be in the wetland. The commission did not want the building to go into the wetland and, for aesthetic purposes, they wanted it to be square.

Wilcox felt it was a good use of the property and that residents had the prerogative to challenge setbacks and inquire about variances.

Councilmember Rob Babione asked if city staff informs people about variances and other possibilities when they inquire about land.

Christianson said city staff does inform people about the setbacks for property and while they don't always talk about variances, they do try to mention them concerning certain buildings or properties.

The council approved the request for the conditional use permit with the variance, 3-2. Voting against were Mayor Sindelar and Councilmember Jim Kratochvil.

Planning Commission

The council unanimously approved two other items from the planning commission.

One was to grant an amendment to the conditional use permit for Extreme Investors. They were asking to expand the Classic Grille & Bar by making two additions, a 21-foot by 36-foot, 4 inch area and a 14-foot by 20-foot area. Both would be made to the south side of the building. The larger area would allow the restaurant to put in pool table and a dartboard and expand its freezer space.

Charlie Hartman, one of the owners, and Bob Rataj, manager of the restaurant, were present at the meeting. They said the expansion would help the business attract pool leagues.

The other item from the planning commission that was approved was a variance request for a deck in the yard of Robert and Marcia Sammons. The deck would be 13 feet by 18 feet with a 5-foot portion next to the house that would lead to a new door. The door would allow their son, who uses a wheelchair, to gain access to the house.

Joint Powers Agreement

The council unanimously approved a joint powers agreement between the city and the New Prague Area School District.

The agreement is for the 5.9-acre park next to Raven Stream Elementary School. At its last meeting, the council tabled a decision on the agreement until it could find out whether the city or the school's rules concerning tobacco and alcohol covered the park. City staff checked and found that alcohol and tobacco won't be allowed due to a state statute governing land used by schools.

The park would be owned by the city and maintained by the school. The equipment would be for the use of students and when not in use it would be open to the public.

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