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Construction Costs Residents and Businesses Thousands

April 09, 2019 10:36 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- Summer construction season is nearly here, which means alternate routes, traffic, and for property owners along North Broadway Avenue in Rochester potentially tens of thousands of dollars.

For Penny Bracken, owner of Kismet, the total comes to $65,541.99.

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That’s how much a notice in the mail from the City of Rochester said she’d have to pay for construction on the street, sidewalk and alley surrounding her business.

“Initially the city told us that it would not be our responsibility to come up with money for the alley, and it was well into the whole process that they said oh never mind we’re wrong,” Bracken said.

While she knew the assessments were coming for the reconstruction project of the North Broadway corridor, she didn’t expect the price tag to be so high.

“It is a lot of money, you know? And the improvements are necessary for this project, I understand that, but I just think such a heavy burden is put on the business owners and, subconsciously, to the residents behind the other side of the alley,” she said.

First-time homeowner Lindsay Nelson is one of those residents.

“I got a letter last week in the mail with the proposed assessment roughly about $2,000 they’re looking to charge me for sidewalk, and over $12,000 to repave the alleyway,” she said.

When she and her husband first heard about possible reconstruction along North Broadway, she said they went to meetings to find out if the project would affect their property, which sits on the alley on the west side of North Broadway.

“Definitely made the statement ‘how is this going to impact us’ and at no point in time did that person say you know you could be billed for this,” Nelson said.

Rochester Public Works Director Chris Petree said special assessments are a common funding source, but acknowledged the burden it puts on property owners.

“We recognize anytime you specially assess any property – which is allowed of course through state statute – it makes a big impact, and it’s a big impact and it can affect whether it be a business owner, their livelihood, or a residential property owner, a homeowner – it can affect them as well,” Petree said.

Ward 5 city council member Shaun Palmer said that’s why this week the city sent property owners a new letter, which said they won’t be responsible for the alleyway.

“Part of the reason for that is the confusion that at first we weren’t going to do it, then we are going to do it, and we have people with single family dwellings $14,000 for assessments. It’s not just fair,” Palmer said.

But the alleys will still get reconstructed.

As far as how they’ll be paid for, it will either be by turn back funds or another reliable source.

“There’s only one pot of money and that’s the taxpayers,” Palmer said.

Property owners who want to contest their assessments have the opportunity to come to a public hearing at the next city council meeting on April 15th at 7 p.m.

If they can’t come in person, they can submit a letter, but it has to be turned in by April 15th.

KAAL-TV

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