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Kallgren decision appealed, may force new policy debate

The council could take up the issue of closed rights of way before year’s end.

The path toward resolving the conflict over Kallgren Road is a few miles longer.

Residents and a developer last week appealed a city decision that would require a connection of Kallgren to Day Road, if plans go forward to build homes at Kallgren’s dead end.

“Unfortunately, we had to go this far,” said Rebecca Robins, a member of the newly formed Kallgren Road Preservation Society. “We had hoped there was an amicable way, but there was no other choice. We exhausted all our other options – petitions, talks with the mayor, public works, the City Council, the planning department.

“We didn’t get anywhere, so it’s inevitable that we had to appeal.”

The city’s Department of Planning and Community Development issued a decision earlier this month to make approval of a short plat amendment at the road’s end contingent upon a connection to Day Road.

Deni Christensen, the Des Moines resident applying for the amendment, hopes to build three homes on her 18-acre property.

The city asserts that the new homes will require better access than the dead-end driveway connection Christensen advocates. A connection to Day would improve overall island traffic and emergency access, city and fire officials have said.

But the residents’ appeal contends that no detailed traffic study calls for a new connection at Kallgren Road.

They also cite portions of the city’s Comprehensive Plan that support the preservation of the island’s rural character and quiet residential neighborhoods, while focusing new growth and road development in the Winslow core.

In addition, Kallgren residents say a connection to Day Road, an island thoroughfare, would increase safety risks as more vehicles traverse their neighborhood.

Christensen’s appeal goes further, insisting that the city’s approval requirements do not match the size and scope of the proposed developments.

The city’s requirement for a fire access line, and the addition of a new fire hydrant, are “unnecessary, duplicative, excessive, and disproportionate, and therefore, illegal,” according to Christensen’s attorney.

Christensen’s appeal also states that the city should pay the estimated $30,000 needed for the connection and road improvements the city would require.

City officials say they’ve made numerous concessions to residents and Christensen to reach a compromise.

“We’ve worked hard to strike through a middle ground that puts city standards in place and meets the community’s desires,” said Public Works Director Randy Witt.

With a 60-foot-wide right-of-way obtained through the property obtained decades ago, Witt says the city has scaled back its road width expectations.

Public Works officials earlier stated an 18-foot-wide requirement for the roadway extension, but now say a 12-foot-wide paved road with 3 feet of gravel on each side would be adequate.

“They’re going to have to have a driveway anyway and a 12-foot-wide street is pretty modest,” Witt said.

Christensen will have two years to meet the city’s requirements if she decides to develop the property as proposed. In that time, city policy on roads standards could change, Witt said.

“My department has been wanting to have a discussion with council on road connections at policy level,” he said. “Kallgren may help us do that, so it’s a good thing.”

But, as has been evident with Kallgren, Witt said discussions on roads policy changes could open up a “can of worms” on many sensitive issues.

Witt expects to initiate formal discussions about roads policies with City Council early next month.

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