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City discusses options for fixing a problem road

FARMINGTON — The Farmington City Council session Thursday evening started with talk of a property on one side of town and ended with a dicussion about a road on the opposite edge.

Council members began the monthly work session with a public hearing about a plat approval for a piece of land at the intersection of State Route OO and Highway 32. The land was recently purchased by Keven and Lynn Harrington, who intend to construct a commercial building to house their company, Signs Etc.

The property is already zoned C-2 commercial, as are neighboring lots. No zoning changes will be necessary to operate the sign business on the lot. With no opposition voiced during the public hearing, a bill allowing for the plat approval was introduced later in the meeting. It will be voted on during the council session later this month.

The other bookend of the meeting was a discussion of the condition of Maple Valley Drive on the western edge of the city. The street, which leads up the steep Sugar Maple Hill west of U.S. 67, acceses a residential development and bicycle trailhead on the edge of St. Joe State Park. The asphalt roadway is in need of repair.

City Administrator Greg Beavers explained that the city inherited the road when a developer was creating a residential neighborhood and “gave” the roadway to the municipality. The problem is, Beavers continued, that the road wasn’t built to the city’s standards, and simply overlaying the existing problems would be a waste of money.

When a councilman questioned the city’s responsibility when annexing in a road, the administrator said just because a city owns a roadway there’s no inherant obligation to maintain it to a specific standard. The spur of roadway leads up the exceptionally steep hill to a city-owned water tower and then exits the city limits before reaching the residential neighborhood.

Public Works Director Larry Lacy joined in and said the road was not designed correctly to start with. There’s a problem with the slope and grade, and the way the road was built initially. He said there is no viable cost-effective fix.

The city administrator said it’s hard to justify spending a limited street budget on a road that would take a disproportionate amount of money to fix to lead to a water tower and out of the city limits when those same dollars could be spent to improve streets in neighborhoods in town.

Additionally, Beavers said, the city cannot blade snow beyond the point where the roadway turns steep. A city-owned plow truck slid off the roadway and nearly overturned last winter while attempting to clear the road.

Changing the topic, two streets that will be repaved as early as next week are Potosi and A Street. The contracted paving company arrived last week and began resurfacing several smaller lengths of roadway.

Also during the meeting, the administrator announced that tickets for the Pure Prarie League concert at the Centene Center on Nov. 17 have been reduced to $20 each. The tickets priced in excess of $30 had not been selling well, so the promoter made a decision to lower the cost.

The final order of business for the evening was a first reading of a bill regarding changes to the sign ordinance. The proposed changes would allow for signs at the entrances to industrial and other business complexes advertising the assortment of businesses located in the area. Another change would tighten the restrictions on non-permanent banner signs placed on commercial-zoned lots.

Current city law requires that temporary banner signs cannot be up for more than 60 continuous days. There’s nothing in the ordinance that prevents a business owner from putting up a sign for 60 days, removing it for a couple days, and then reinstalling it for another 60 days and repeating the cycle over and over.

The proposed change would allow “non-permanent” banner signs for a maximum of 60 continuous days not to exceed 120 days in a calendar year. The problem, it was said, will be keeping track of the time that signs are in place. The matter will be voted on by the council during the Nov. 26 session.

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