North Sioux City City Administrator Eric Christensen met with the Union County Board of County Commissioners Monday, Oct. 18 to discuss the latest happenings in North Sioux City and ask for help on a resurfacing project.

Christensen told the commissioners that they are going to purchase a large portion of land north of the city and will begin the annexation process within the next few months. That would also mean that the portion of the levee that is currently owned by the county would be within city limits. The city would like the county to transfer ownership of the levee to the city.

He also stated that there is a portion of unincorporated land south of city limits between the city and Dakota Dunes that could also be annexed into the city. A property owner approached the city about receiving city utilities. The city council felt that if they were going to bring city utilities they might as well annex that area into city limits through either a voluntary or involuntary annexation.

North Sioux City has been working with Senator Mike Rounds to rework the Exit 4 off-ramp and put in a bypass that would cut off Northshore Drive from the exit directly. The city is looking for funding and Rounds’ office has a request in the appropriations budget. This bypass would curve around the north side of city limits on the back side of the school and connect to County Road 1/Westshore Drive. This would help take traffic off Northshore Drive, as it is a current farm-to-market route.

The fourth thing he wanted to discuss was the damage done to Military Road when the county was hauling millings from their project on CR1B to their property in the city off Military Road. The county hired Certified Testing to do core studies on the road in order to determine the amount of damage caused by the county as opposed to lack of maintenance on the road.

The city is asking the county to help pay for part of the resurfacing project as the wear on the road was “not capable of standing up to the traffic that it had during your [the county’s] project.” Christensen stated that they were going to have to resurface the road next year, five years ahead of their original plan.

“Clearly, it’s not a road that was capable of that traffic,” Christensen said. “It did suffer some damage. We would have liked to get a little more time out of it before we had to deal with it, but with all our other projects, we don’t have the money to do what we need to do, which is tear it out and replace it. So we’re looking at resurfacing it to get us five to 10 years down the road, hopefully.”

The portion of road is 3,800 feet and is estimated to cost around $190,000. Christensen said the county was the first stop and they would also be contacting the contractor.

Commissioner Rich Headid asked Jerry Buum whether it goes back on the contractor or whether the county acts like a good neighbor and helps come up with a solution.

Buum said the contractor normally gets the permit when crossing certain roads. However, this time they didn’t get it because they weren’t hauling across the road, but to the county’s property.

Christensen said he didn’t need an answer right away and would give the commissioners time to consider it.

The last thing Christensen had for the commissioners involved the city filing a case in court within the next couple of weeks. It will name Union County as a defendant, so a judge can determine an application question of a state statute.

“We tried to get the answer from the Attorney General’s office just to render an opinion, and they chose not to get involved between two entities,” Christensen explained. “What we’re looking at is we have a bit of a difference in opinion in how special assessments are handled on tax forfeit properties. Since the Attorney General’s office wouldn’t do it, we’re going to ask a court judge here to simply look at the statutes and determine if it’s being applied correctly or if it’s not. So it’s not really an adversarial opinion, but we have to go to court to do that.”

Union County Auditor Jackie Sieverding asked what Christensen meant by special assessments. He responded that the city had some properties that were seized due to lack of tax payments and the city had added special assessments for special improvements. Those assessments were wiped off at the time of sale by the county.

“It’s our City Attorney’s [Darrell Jesse] opinion that they [special assessments] should not have been,” Christensen explained.

Sieverding mentioned that the county went through this with Jefferson, too, and that he should talk to County Treasurer Myron Hertel about it.

Christensen said they weren’t going to go that route and would be taking it before someone who could officially look at it and render the opinion. This way, the city knows how to proceed in the future. Depending on the rendered opinion, if the assessments should have remained, the city will look for a way to recoup those assessments.

Blue Tin Ranch

Union County State’s Attorney Jerry Miller updated the commissioners on actions they could take with the zoning violations of Blue Tin Ranch when they’re operating as an event center.

“We’ve done some looking into it,” Miller began. “What we’ve identified and what we believe your options are as it pertains to Blue Tin Ranch is that they are in violation of the zoning rules. They are not zoned to operate as an event center. Their webpage as it pertains to Blue Tin Ranch, I think they have a second webpage that pertains to their hunting lodge, which they are licensed for. I think that each and every day that that webpage [event center] is up and running, each and every day that their Twitter and Facebook page is out there advertising Blue Tin Ranch and their event center, is a violation each day.”

He said if they were to follow their Twitter or Facebook pages they’ll sometimes post that they’re getting ready for a wedding this weekend with pictures of the preparations.

“They’re clearly violating the zoning regulations of Union County,” Miller said.

See full story in this week’s Leader-Courier.