Gravel driveway causing a fuss near Ekdahl Estates

Owner of Ekdahl Estates wants driveway paved


Greg Amundson’s gravel driveway onto 205th Street has upset some people living in Ekdahl Estates, which requires paved driveways for homes. (Photo by Mary Bailey)

On a paved road built as part of a development, a gravel driveway is causing a fuss.

Gail Dietrich, owner and developer of Ekdahl Estates, wants the driveway paved.

Ekdahl Estates is a group of single-family homes near the St. Croix River, east of TH-95 on 205th Street. Covenants in the private development require paved driveways. The gravel driveway is from a neighboring property that is not part of the development.

Dietrich appeared before the Scandia City Council on Tuesday, June 19. She said the current owners are very upset, and she is in danger of losing buyers for the last two lots.

“When I was out of town over the winter,” Dietrich said, “a very obtrusive gravel driveway was put off 205th without my knowledge. Anybody who lived in the development, and myself, should have been told,” she said.

City ordinance does not require that driveways be paved, or that neighbors be notified when a driveway permit is issued.

The street “needs to have a uniform look,” Dietrich said. “Somebody is trying to back out because of this really glaring problem.”

The gravel lane belongs to Greg Amundson, dealer of Lindal Cedar Homes.  Amundson already has a driveway on TH-95 but added another access to the back of his house.

Dietrich reminded the council of the city’s strict rules for developing the land, and the resulting costs. She said she was required to put in paved roads and cement curbs, and the purchase agreement in the development promises all paved driveways.

“This cluster community was developed with a lot of expense and a lot of following direction from the town and county,” she said. “I don’t understand how a driveway can just appear. Tax bases in that development are extremely high.” Dietrich said owners told her, “We bought knowing it was going to be premier — and now we have gravel driveways?”

City Attorney Thomas Miller will study the issue, but said “I don’t think there’s a lot of research to be done. If pavement is not required, the city can’t insist on it.  We can’t enforce private covenants,” he added.

Cock-a-Doodle Zoo

The city attorney may also get involved in solving the zoo problem on Pilar Road in the northeast part of Scandia.

Neighbors of Bob Pilz, who advertises Cock-a-Doodle Zoo as licensed by the USDA and Minnesota DNR, told council members of a manure pile “about as big as this room,” exotic animals and fumes from burning meat.

Dale and Barbara Johansen said they don’t like to complain but are concerned about smells and semi-tame dangerous animals. It’s a good idea in the wrong place, Dale Johansen said.

Scandia ordinance prohibits wild and exotic animals in all zoning districts. The number and size of buildings may also violate city code.

City staff said they have discussed code violations with the owner to no avail.  The consensus of the council was to involve law enforcement and possibly pursue prosecution.

Compost Exchange

Instead of opening a city compost site, Scandia will offer a registry of folks with extra leaves and folks wanting more leaves.

“The city doesn’t have the space required by the agencies that govern this,” said Park and Recreation Chair Alex Bildeaux. “And a compost site is a large expense.  It would probably need another city employee,” he added.

The matter had been referred to the parks committee by the council. The request for a city compost site came from a Bone Lake resident concerned with phosphorus build-up in the lake.

The city website will state only that a registry exists; names and addresses will not be posted on the website. Residents can call the city office for registry names.

The council considered asking the city of Marine to share their compost site in exchange for a fee, but decided to hold off. Council member Chris Ness commented, “My mailing address is Marine, and they won’t even let me in there.”

Other Business

Mayor Randall Simonson reported that the ball park dedication was a huge success, and the newly painted warming house looks great.

The council authorized the Scandia Local Water Management Plan update be sent out for 60-day review.

Changes to the number and size of accessory buildings allowed for each lot size, as recommended by the planning commission, were adopted by the council.

Bylaws for the park and recreation committee were changed so that city staff will now record meeting minutes.

Fire Chief Finnegan reported eight fire and seven medical calls in May. Six new recruits joined the force in June.

The 2012 seal coat and patching bid was awarded to Allied Blacktop Company for $218,493.

Forrest Tibbetts was hired as part-time grounds worker to replace Greg VanDerSchaegen. Justin Bergerson was hired for the summer maintenance job.  The council approved a pay increase for full-time maintenance worker Mike Egelkraut.

The Zavoral Mine EIS comment period has ended, and the council will receive the final draft on July 13. Special meetings will be held August 8 and September 25 to determine the adequacy of the final EIS.

The council voted to increase the AECOM contract by another $53,853 because of the large number and complexity of comments received.

The search for a new city administrator brought in 53 applications.  The council will begin selecting finalists and interviewing in July and August.

The city hired EcoCheck of Chisago City to operate and maintain two city sewer systems. Costs will be $240 per month for the Anderson/Erickson system on Big Marine Lake and $334 per month for the Uptown system serving the community center, church, museum, and downtown businesses.

Washington County had been the service provider for Anderson/Erickson, but is now the governmental regulator. Eventually the city intends to use its own staff for sewer operations, but needs more training and equipment.

The council approved the 2012-2013 Recycling Grant Agreement with Washington County, through which Scandia receives $15,960 for curbside recycling program expenses.

For watershed district work on replacing Bone Lake inlet and outlet structures, the council approved a utility permit for Rachel Contracting.