Storm sewers spark discussion at Marshall City Council meeting

MARSHALL – What started as a change order on a municipal storm sewer project ended up generating some discussion among Marshall City Council members on Tuesday night. Council members said they wanted to investigate cracks reported in sections of new concrete storm sewers more closely.

Assistant city engineer Shane Waterman presented the council with a proposed change order on an improvement project being done on parts of West Lyon Street and North 7th Street. The improvement project includes the replacement of water mains, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines along the affected streets, as well as street reconstruction. However, Waterman said hairline cracks have been found in places along the new storm sewer pipe. A total of about 168 feet of the storm sewer line is cracked, he said.

The storm sewer pipeline is made of concrete reinforced with steel wire, Waterman said. If cracks in the concrete are big enough, they could be a concern for the structural integrity of the pipe, he said. However, Waterman said the contractor for the pipeline said the hairline cracks would not pose a risk, and the pipes would function for the intended lifespan of the sewer project.

Waterman said city staff recommended accepting the pipeline’s installation but not paying for the cost and sales tax of the cracked pipes.

“I don’t think that’s a fair settlement at all,” said council member Mike Boedigheimer. Boedigheimer said he wasn’t convinced the cracked pipes would last as long, and he wasn’t in favor of keeping them.

Council member Glenn Bayerkohler said he also wanted more information on the condition of the pipes before taking action on the issue.

Waterman said there have been similar hairline cracks found in previous storm sewer projects, and those pipelines are still in use.

Council members voted to table the change order until the city could get a third party to evaluate the cracked pipes.

City ordinances on parking lot spaces were once again a topic of discussion at the council meeting. Two different variance permit requests were brought before the council for approval, one from Daniel Ritter for a new recycling facility in the Marshall industrial park and one for expansions at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Waterman presented both requests.

Waterman said city ordinances required eight paved parking spaces at the new recycling facility, as well as a paved access drive. Ritter was requesting that the city waive the requirement for a paved driveand instead allow a layer of crushed gravel nine inches thick. There is a lot of heavy truck traffic at the facility and only employees would be using the parking lot on a regular basis, Waterman said.

The Marshall Planning Commission recommended the variance be approved. Marshall Building Official Ilya Gutman said the variance would also expire if there was a change to the facility’s use or ownership.

The second variance request came from Carr Family Ltd. Partnership for parking spaces at the ReStore. Waterman said the ReStore completed a building expansion that, by ordinance, would require the business go from having 22 parking spaces to 40 parking spaces. Bayerkohler said the Planning Commission had been presented with a customer traffic analysis making the case that keeping just 22 parking spaces would be adequate. The commission recommended the variance be approved.

Council members voted in favor of granting both variances. However, Boedigheimer said he would like to see the city update its parking ordinances to be more practical for businesses.

“This has come up often,” Boedigheimer said of parking variance requests.

Gutman said the city would be re-examining the ordinances this fall.

Council members ordered special assessments to be prepared for two different improvement projects and called for public hearings on the assessments. One project is the replacement of sewer lines and street reconstruction on West Main Street. The second is the replacement of water and sewer lines and street reconstruction on parts of West Marshall Street, West Redwood Street and North 3rd Street. Construction on both of those projects has been ongoing this summer. Public hearings on the special assessments for both projects will be on Sept. 24.