Mayor “Jeff” Huber starts out his Fall newsletter with a philosophical analysis of his bean farmer neighbor’s crop planting risk/reward gamble and then comparing it to how it was used by Grant residents to re-construct their roads. If Huber’s analysis was real world, he would have detailed how the farmer’s risk is minimized by government subsidies for crop failure, low prices, wetland restoration and flooding, etc. Hold on to that last item.
Sorry Jeff, farming is not a current issue in Grant. The immediate main issues are citizen litigations, comp plan re-do, road policy re-do and flooding. The 16-year Carr-Huber controlled city council has been the catalyst for these and other counter productive events. Not one mention in the newsletter of the financial impact of their penny-wise pound-foolish decisions on property owners. Totally avoided. Understandable as that would take a person of gold plated character.
The failed Huber covert attack on the Lanoux’s set off a series of expensive citizen and city litigation counter attacks that were very personal and highly damaging to the community’s public image. City settlement and legal costs are running in high six figures on the backs of taxpayers. But, individuals are shouldering their litigation expenses.
The city council incorporating wording into the city’s Comp Plan and re-writing ordinances and zoning to be compliant with the Met Council 2040 regional housing plan is cause for concern. It’s like an open invitation to Lake Elmo’s small lot, big house lifestyle. Is that Huber’s 2040 vision for Grant?
That vision fits nicely with Huber’s 5000+ population goal for Grant to qualify for $250,000 in state gas tax road funding. The problem with that is, at what number does the growth stop? Better to increase the city road budget and forget increased density. In case you have forgotten the wording in the city’s logo is ‘A Home In the Country’.
Next, the controversial watered down road policy that eliminates feasibility study fees, lowers property owner approval from 75% down to 50% and gives the council authority to order road re-construction if property owners reject the feasibility study. On top of that, it provides for combining a road(s) with low property and high traffic density with neighborhoods of greater density and lower traffic.
Thereby lowering the cost to the former and raising the cost to the later. Like Joliet Ave. where Mayor Huber and Deputy Mayor Carr live next door to one another that was recently re-constructed along with Woodland Acres. But, it is rumored that the policy approval process and assessment may be litigated.
Now we come to flooding and closed roads. Sunnybrook Lake flood management has been avoided for decades by the council’s obstinate refusal to work with the Valley Branch Water Shed District and other governmental agencies to mitigate the problem. It is very well documented and for the moment needs no further explanation.
What does need discussing is the loss of property and housing caused by the 2020 flooding. In the Sunnybrook Lake neighborhood alone, buy out and demolition upwards of 12+ homes will take place at taxpayers cost trending at $6 million. Yet to be addressed is diminished property values in an Indian Hills neighborhood. Equally important, as yet no public discussion or announcement of a plan to prevent future flooding and what will be done with the vacated properties. Of course, property tax revenue from the properties is lost forever.
While floodwaters were raising the council waited until the inevitable flooding of Jocelyn, Keats and Kimbro avenues occurred before reacting. In the case of Keats, there is suspicion that a berm was ordered closed causing the road and adjacent Indian Hills golf course to flood. When Washington County began work to open 75th Street, it offered to assist Grant with opening Kimbro Ave., but the offer was declined and the road remained flooded out for several months before the council re-opened it. Larry Lanoux’s pumping has drawn down the floodwaters to passable conditions on Jocelyn and Keats. All of these roads are still in need of more repairs. But, with winter approaching that may not happened until next year.
During the months that road closure was in place these roads were closed to ambulance, fire, police, mail, commercial service, school bus and personal vehicle traffic. Delayed re-opening was much more than just an inconvenience.
Mayor Huber pontificated that the city’s ‘deliberate property tax rate is the lowest in the metro’ and services received are exemplary. Translated that means you get what you pay for, not what you would like. He points out that our tax rate equates to 13.557% of the city’s tax capacity. Does he mean to imply that that we are cheap minded and that good enough will do and leave the best for others to do? After all, isn’t a porto-potty good enough for Town Hall?
About that newsletter page 1 paragraph on CARES COVID-19 Relief Act, I would have liked him to explain to the public on what and how the $75,000 the city spent on electronics will be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergency coronavirus events in Grant? The later is my understanding of the intended use for the COVID-19 relief funding.
At the same time, maybe he could update the public on where the council is with its resolution to terminate its franchise agreement with Comcast. If I recall correctly, the resolution was intended to persuade Comcast to extend cable service in Grant.
We still get a franchise charge on our Comcast bill and I would like to know the date of the termination when I call them for an adjustment to my billing.
I’ll file the rest of the newsletter articles for future reference.
Thanks for reminding us to vote; mine will be for Erickson, Sarappo and Lanoux.