Austin City Council addresses landowners’ views on possible construction of noise barrier at Monday meeting

The Austin City Council addressed affected landowner’s views on the possible construction of a 17-foot high noise barrier along a portion of Interstate 90 between 2nd Street and 14th Street NW during a work session following their regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening.  

The council had recently instructed Public Works Director Steve Lang to conduct a vote amongst the 23 affected landowners as to whether they were in favor of, or opposed to the proposed project that would cost approximately $932,400.  90%, or roughly $839,169 would be funded by grants from the state of Minnesota, and the remaining 10%, or $93,241 would be split equally between the affected landowners and the city.  The landowners were given two options to distribute the cost, one that would spread the cost among a larger number of property owners based on a lower decibel decrease, while the other would concentrate the cost to property owners based on a higher base threshold of decibel decrease.  Lang stated to the council that a total of 11 landowners voted, with four voting no, one voting no, but they would support a 90-5-5 split, two voting yes, two others voting yes with a 90-5-5 split, and another voting yes to build the barrier with no cost to them.  After further discussion, the council moved on a vote of 4-3 to move the issue to their next meeting on May 1st, with another vote to be taken by the affected landowners before that time.  The council determined that seven yes votes will be needed to keep the project moving forward, as councilmembers Geoff Baker, Jeff Austin, Jason Baskin and Joyce Poshusta voted in favor of the motion, while councilmembers Laura Helle, Paul Fischer and Mike Postma voted against.

In items of business on their regular agenda, the Austin City Council approved a pair of five year tax abatement requests, one from New Horizon Homes, LLC for a property located at 1803 18th Place NE totaling an estimated $550,000, and another from Bigelow and Lennon Construction for a property at 1302 18th St. NE with an estimated project valuation of $350,000.  The council also approved city participation in Mower County’s annual electronics recycling event at the Mower County Fairgrounds on May 13th.

The next regularly scheduled meeting for the Austin City Council will be held on Monday, May 1st at 5:30 p.m. at the city council chambers.