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Sturgeon aldermen hear disputes, move on storm water drainage

Posted on Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 6:08 am

They were short of chairs in Sturgeon City Hall the evening of June 28. More than 25 people filled the floor and four stood against the wall in order to attend.

Prior to the pledge, Mayor Mike Butler warmed up the audience by saying the board’s agenda was full that night ,”and if you are not on the agenda, you will not speak.”

That was how they began a meeting covering topics as wide-ranging as the city annexing its own wetlands, a long-term parking dispute, the city budget and the city maintenance department.

They began with a public hearing on annexing of the tracts owned by the Long family and the Martin living trust.

Alderman Ashley Long recused herself from the vote, saying she had a family relationship with the owners. The annexation passed 3-0.

Part of the discussion included seven small tracts of land upon which the city’s waste-water lagoon sits, which Butler called “odds and ends owned by the city.” That annexation passed unanimously 4-0.

Guests then spoke, starting with Ron Sage, who said he had a complaint regarding parking on East Canada Street. “The city gave a neighbor of mine permission to build a small garage right on the

Ron Sage explaining his position to alderman Steve Crosswhite

property line… That just made a bottle neck.” He said the aldermen later changed things for another neighbor permission to build a car-port, causing he said further safety hazards. He asked the aldermen to pass an ordinance prohibiting parking on East Canada. “I argued with them and argued with them… And then they treat Canada Street as an alley.”

He provided aldermen photos of the street sides in question.

Sam Truesdell presenting his side of the story

TJ Starnes, who said he was retired from a law-enforcement career said the current situation made it difficult if not impossible for EMS and fire vehicles to gain access when people are parked there.

One of the property owners, Sam Truesdell, was there during the discussion.

Butler asked Truesdell for comment.

He said he had pictures of “25 vehicles parked similarly all over town. I have never had a conversation with anybody regarding parking any other way, and I have never had a conversation with this gentleman.”

He said he was there for clarification and “to be told yes or no… I have never parked anything there for any length of time and it is not my intention to ever do so. No one has had the gall to come talk to me personally and say, ‘hey let’s work this out.’ That would be the manly thing to do.”

He said he was not there to cause trouble for anybody and only wanted an amicable solution.

Sage apologized for not speaking with Truesdell, but said Truesdell should have spoken with him.

City attorney Jackie Rodgers said the city had the authority to make the street a no-parking zone, but did not have the authority to make that declaration for private property.

Truesdell asked them to view the property. Long said she had.

Seth Truesdell said he had not parked any trailers there for a year and has been renting property from Johnny Robinson so as not cause problems for his parents and the only thing that would be built there would be a privacy fence to “spare my parents from this.”

Butler asked the aldermen for a motion declaring a no-parking zone. None did so. “At this point, given the information provided, I would not be inclined to vote for a no-parking ordinance,” Long said. Alderman Kyle Schultz agreed.

In other business, they voted to sell four tracts of land to Mark Perkins for $1,000.

Butler later told  the Fireside Guard the city had been unable to find a buyer for them and Perkins was wiling to do the work to make them developable.

Then they discussed the incoming stormwater mitigation grant and who was charged with maintaining the drainage system. Lincoln Brown with the Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission was there to address that. “I don’t know where the easements are for all the drains,” he said. “It’s the city’s storm water either way and the city’s responsibility to maintain that runoff.”

City Attorney Jackie Rodgers agreed.

Brown said the grant would be used to upgrade and expand drainage capacity, not create new drainage systems. “It is a mitigation issue,” Aldermen Steve Crosswhite said. “This is all designed to help improve our infrastructure and make it last longer.”

A resident of West Harris Street asked for a timeline. She said runoff was washing away her back yard and flooding her garage and basement.

Brown said there would be some “environmental hoops to jump through” because they would be altering a local flood plain. That, he said would add at least three to five months for a total of at least a year and a half to complete the project from start to finish.

Brown said the project engineer would take all their concerns into account.

The aldermen unanimously voted to proceed with the project, naming Brown as the grant administrator for a fee not to exceed $19,000.

They also passed the 2021-2022 annual budget, beginning July 1.

The also approved a new contract for Rodgers and a two-year extension of his appointment as city attorney and city prosecutor.

They also discussed the city’s ongoing sales tax to fund the police department. Rodgers had been asked to research the question and what the city could do with the funds collected. Rodgers said the phrase ‘police purposes” could cover many things and Butler’s suggestion that it be used to fund speed bumps would be a permissible use.

Rodgers also said an ordinance could be passed to bring municipal court back to Sturgeon, but there would be expenses. Butler said it had already been decided that move would be “cost ineffective.”

Schultz moved that the agenda, over Butler’s objection, be amended to allow the people to explain why so many had attended the meeting.

Nobody said specifically, but audience members asked who would be reading water meters since the city no longer had maintenance personnel and if the Missouri Department of Natural Resources had been notified the city no longer had a certified water technician. Butler said he was looking into the personnel issue and Donna Tracey, city clerk, said DNR had been notified and was willing to work with the city until the situation is rectified.

After the meeting, Butler confirmed John Gingerich, city maintenance superintendent and Thomas Sercu, maintenance employee had both recently resigned, but offered no further comment.