by Mike Knaak
Construction of a water main extension near 20th Avenue SE will go ahead after the St. Joseph City Council approved on a split vote the project’s assessments and low bid at its Sept. 8 meeting.
The approval came after a public hearing on the project, which will pay for a construction of a looped water main south from 20th Avenue SE and along the potential future development of Dale Street E.
Three property owners will be affected by the special assessments. One of those property owners, Dan Rassier, spoke during the public hearing objecting to the special assessment.
Rassier, whose family’s land touches the south side of the assessment area, said he was “outraged and angry” about the assessment and the nature of the process. He argued his property should not be assessed and that the developer of a 48-unit apartment project should pay for it.
The project will cost $289,559.39 and Rassier’s assessment is $24,840. The other assessed property is owned by the apartment developer, St. Joseph Vista LLC., and River Bats Stadium LLC.
City officials said installing the water main will make the surrounding property more valuable and more attractive for development. Rassier argued he has no plans to develop his land and he will incur expenses for security and fences and he will have to put up with noise from the neighboring development.
“No way this water main is making our land more valuable,” Rassier said.
The council approved the assessment plan on a 3-1 vote, but the motion included deferring the assessments for the Rassier and River Bats properties for 30 years or until the properties are sold or developed. There will be no interest on the assessments for 15 years.
The apartment assessment will be $38,417.47 and the deferred River Bats assessment will be $81,640. The Rassier and River Bats final costs were reduced after a city subsidy limiting the amount was applied.
Mayor Rick Schultz and council members Anne Buckvold and Troy Goracke voted in favor of the assessment plan and the project’s bid. Council member Brian Theisen voted no on both measures. Theisen also voted against previous council actions approving the affordable-housing apartment complex. Council member Bob Loso was not at the meeting.