City Council discusses asphalt project for annexed land

Published 6:08 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

The Austin City Council moved multiple projects forward from a work session Monday night following its first meeting of the new year.

The Council advanced an asphalt paving project as well as a 2022 assessment increase.

The asphalt project would apply to roads in a portion of Austin, which was annexed into the city in 2016, designated as Turtle Creek 2.

The roads are currently gravel, but some property owners in Turtle Creek 2 requested they be paved. Should the project go through, 100% would be funded through assessments, breaking down to $5,600 per unit.

In December, a survey was sent out asking property owners of the 28 units that makes up the development if they were interested in the paving project. The city received 12 “yes” responses and 16 “no.” And survey not sent back was considered to be a “not” vote.

The City Council seemed supportive of the project, indicating that it was the residents of Turtle Creek 2 that first came to the city requesting annexation.

“Being part of the city comes with certain expectations,” said Councilman Mike Postma. “For me paving is sort of part of that. I also grew up on a gravel road. I know there is a cost to maintaining gravel roads. I think at this point I’m for the paving.”

However, Councilman Jeff Austin pointed out that this assessment would come on the heals of a sanitary sewer project that was completed in 2020.

“In this case we are following up fairly soon after a large assessment,” Austin said, pointing out that 16 was a fairly large number of “no” indications. “That’s going to leave a large portion of the project paid out by the city waiting for people paying the assessment or challenging it.”

Austin said he would be in favor of putting the project off a couple years to see if anybody would change their minds.

But putting the project off a couple years could raise the price of the project, as well as the assessment.

“I think the cost of doing this in two, three years is going to be substantially more than it is now,” Postma said.”

There was also a case made that paved roads could help toward further develop of the area, which still has some land open.

The council also moved forward a 7% assessment increase, up two points from the recommended 5% offered by Public Works.

Assistant City Engineer Mitch Wenum told the board that generally the City aims for 40% of any street projects to be paid for through assessments, but in previous years that amount has come in under that target.

Postma pointed out that the last time the rates were risen by 7%, they were closer to 40% and suggested that it would make sense to do that again.

The board voted 4-2 to advance the topic to the next meeting, with Austin and councilwoman Joyce Poshusta voting against the 7%.

In Other News:

• The council also moved forward a project that would see a T-Hangar built at the airport. This kind of hangar would include several private bays that could be rented, costing around $1.5 million to build.

However, City Engineer Steven Lang said before they could build the hangar, the Federal Aviation Administration would likely require the City to complete a taxiway joints project first. Ninety percent of the cost of the hangar would be paid through federal funds with either the remaining 10% of the cost provided locally or split  5% local funding and 5% state funding.

• The council also approved six street projects for a Feb. 22 public hearings after receiving feasibility reports on the projects. Those street improvement projects include:

• 21st Avenue NE from Eighth Drive NE to 14th Street NE;

• Ninth Street NW from 10th Avenue NW to 12th Avenue NW and 10th Street NW from Eighth Avenue NW to 13th Avenue NW;

• Third Avenue NE from Oakland Place NE to 19th Street NE;

•Third Street NE from 16th Avenue NE to 18th Avenue NE;

• Fifth Avenue SW from 27th Street SW to 29th Street SW and 16th Street SW from 16th Avenue SW to 19th Avenue SW; and

• Seventh Avenue SW from 23rd Street SW to 24th Street SW, 11th Avenue SW from 10th Street  SW to 18th Street SW and 23rd Street SW from Ninth Avenue SW to dead end.