For the second time in three meetings, a conspicuous pile of demolition refuse was the topic addressed by the North Branch City Council.
The pile, located in the city’s Lucht’s Crossing development, is part of what was left over after the Green Acres County Care Center was demolished about two years ago.
As part of the original demolition agreement between the city and Shade Tree Communities, LLC and 21st Century Bank — one of the neighborhood developers and its bank — all of the demolition waste does not need to be removed until 2016.
Residents in the area say that timetable is far too long.
“We have to live with this mistake (by the city) until the end of 2016?” resident Stephanie Johnson asked. “That doesn’t seem very just.”
Mayor Ron Lindquist agreed with Johnson’s assertion.
“It’s a terrible mistake; I agree with you,” he said. “We’re learning from it, but we’re stuck here a little bit.”
Even though Lindquist and the council admitted the city signed a demolition agreement years ago that isn’t exactly conducive to getting the refuse removed in a timely manner, Lindquist told Johnson the council would approach the developer and the bank to see if something could be done to speed up the process.
“We’ll work with the developer to see if we can do something that’s a little outside of the box,” he said.
If the developer isn’t affable to speeding up the removal process, Councilmember Kathy Blomquist suggested another route.
“I tend to believe no contract is infallible. … I just don’t believe that our hands are tied,” she said, noting the city could reopen negotiations on the contract.
City Administrator Bridgitte Konrad said that could be an option, but cautioned that renegotiating the contract could lead to significant city attorney time and cost.
Councilmember Trent Jensen said the city could also look into using its nuisance ordinance, especially if the fence around the demolition pile isn’t kept closed, which has been a problem in the past.
In addition to those suggestions, Councilmember Theresa Furman said the city should look into what it would cost to have the Public Works Department crush the material and haul it away.
By consensus, the council agreed to ask Public Works Director Shawn Williams to research crushing and hauling costs.