HARTINGTON — Discussion on whether a city park is the appropriate place for a private driveway took up most of Monday’s Hartington City Council meeting.
In the end, board members unanimously voted “yes” to Councilman Tim Burbach’s request for an entrance into his property off of the road that runs through Felber Park. The entrance would be on the road that curves north past the shelter house and out to the golf course.
In return, the city will be gaining an easement for water line and utility easements across Burbach’s property. The cost of the engineer and the materials will be paid for by Burbach.
A six-inch main with a fire hydrant is in the easement proposal.
The property is in the city limits.
Councilman Cody Christensen assured the eight visitors that their “concerns have not fallen on deaf ears,” before he made the motion to approve the request.
Burbach answered numerous questions concerning his request while board members listened to a number of concerns and City Attorney Steve Pier offered legal advice.
Pier had informed board members that he had not found any ordinance or direction on whether the city council could or could not allow a private entrance off of the roads running through the park.
“They are not private roads or streets – they are public streets,” Pier said “The decision is up to this council whether they want to allow access off of this road.”
Burbach was asked if a house would be built on the property or if his plans included developing a subdivision which would include a number of homes.
Burbach said his intention for now is to have one house on the property at some point.
Burbach was asked about his long-term plans for the property.
Those at the meeting were reminded, before additional houses could be added to the property, the city’s rules and regulations for subdivisions would have to be followed.
“The Council would have the authority to deny or approve any plans for a multi-house subdivision,” Pier said. “Granting an entrance to a road does not give someone the ability to build a six-house subdivision.”
Several visitors thought the long term plans should definitely be considered when council members made their decision.
Some of the concerns centered on safety issues.
“It doesn’t make any difference on who might live on the property but there is a question on how it would affect traffic in the park,” Bill Yates said.
“During the summer the street around the shelter house is congested. With little kids running around and people going out to the golf course it just seems like it might be too much congestion to have people coming out of a private driveway also.”
Clark Johnson asked if the private entrance into the park would be closed if a subdivision is developed.
Another question involved snow removal.
Jerry Wintz, who serves on the park board, asked what the expectations would be for snow removal with a house and a private entrance on the road.
Burbach said the city is already doing snow removal although the streets in the park are opened last.
“Having someone go through the park to get to a private entrance just doesn’t feel right,” Wintz said.
The property owned by Burbach and his wife is currently landlocked.
Without the driveway, Burbach has to cross property that is owned by other people to have access to his property.
In order to have a permanent driveway on the east side of his property he would have to purchase some land.
Burbach was asked if he knew the piece of ground was landlocked when he purchased the property.
He said yes.
Before the discussion began, Burbach read a letter to fellow council members and visitors that were present at the meeting.
Burbach said a lot of misunderstandings, misinformation and questions have come up since he made the first request.
“This is the third time we have talked about this at a city council meeting. My wife and I feel this is a good thing for the city as the city will be gaining an easement,” Burbach said.
Burbach has served 11 years on the council. He has run for election three times – two times he was unopposed.
“Before I took this job I was told this position comes with a lot of animosity and jealousy,” Burbach said. “We have covered a lot of issues through the years.”
Burbach offered an apology to anyone he had offended since he began serving on the board.
Burbach assured people he would not be upset when the decision was made concerning his request.
“When the vote is taken – no matter what the outcome – Faye and I will not be mad at anyone,” Burbach said.