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City, developer attempt to reach deal over sewer main work

A local developer wants to avoid building 350 feet of sewer main that would sit, dry and unused, on the very edge of Rapid City’s western limits.

City staffers want the developer to follow the city’s platting ordinances and install the infrastructure in preparation for future development to the area along Muirfield Drive.

At the city’s Public Works committee meeting Tuesday afternoon, committee members attempted to find a compromise.

In a 3-2 vote, with Alderman Ritchie Nordstrom and Alderwoman Darla Drew voting in opposition, the committee voted to continue the item and directed the developer to reach an agreement with the city to pay for the infrastructure improvements now but delay their installation until a later date.

Whether that agreement is ultimately reached, though, remains to be seen. After a lengthy discussion on the matter, it became clear that the details of such an agreement are anything but simple.

At Tuesday’s meeting, KTM Design Solutions Inc. project manager and President Kyle Treloar spoke on behalf of Dean Hamm, who owns multiple plots of land along Muirfield Drive. At this time, Treloar explained, Hamm hoped to avoid building about 350 feet of unconnected sewer main but was open to reaching an agreement with the city to pay for the installation of the main when development came to adjacent properties to the south.

Efficiency in designing the sewer main route and its location were the main reasons, Treloar said, explaining that choosing a location for the middle 350-foot section without the north or south section would be a “guessing game.” To bring water to the 350-foot sewer main section and to the properties south of the lot in question — also owned by Hamm — a gravity-fed sewer service from the north would be necessary, further complicating the topographical engineering of the sewer main.

“There are efficiencies in designing all of this at one time so that all of your elevations match up,” he said. According to city documents, about 450 feet of sewer main would need to be constructed north of the lot to connect to the middle 350-foot section.

Though the city has tried at least once in the past to reach similar agreements with developers, none have ultimately been finalized. In June, the city agreed to allow local developer Daene Boomsma to avoid constructing road improvements along Dyess Avenue contingent upon Boomsma entering into a “strategic payment plan” agreement with the city. An agreement has yet to be made, Public Works Director Dale Tech said after the meeting.

After Treloar’s explanation, Tech said it was the first time he’d heard of Hamm’s desire to reach an agreement with the city.

“We’ve talked about it, but we’ve never actually entered into any type of agreement such as this,” Tech said, expressing support for requiring Hamm to install the sewer main now.

“This is one of those infrastructure pieces that need to be extended not necessarily for the benefit of this property, but certainly for other properties further to the south. Our best mechanism to get public infrastructure installed is at the time of platting the property.”

Nonetheless, Alderwoman Lisa Modrick and Aldermen Jason Salamun and John Roberts said they supported trying to reach an agreement requiring Hamm to pay the city upfront for the cost of the project and then install the sewer main at the same time as the other sections.

City attorney Joel Landeen said such an agreement is easier said than done.

“The key is going to be how much are we going to have to negotiate for a payment to cover the future cost of this?” Landeen said, explaining that installing the sewer main may cost more in the future because of inflation. Coming to an agreement on a reasonable cost for the project if it were done today would be a challenge, Landeen said. Agreeing on the added cost due to inflation would be even more difficult.

“I suspect that there may be a difference of opinion on what the future cost is going to be, and it’s a little tough because we don’t know when it’s actually going to be installed,” he said. “Somebody is probably going to come out behind in that.”

Modrick offered that a clause could be incorporated into the agreement that requires the developer to pay the difference should the funds provided not cover the project costs. Landeen, though, reiterated the idea that what sounds reasonable in the chambers of city hall doesn’t necessarily make sense in the real world.

“If there is a $50,000 difference in seven years, who are we making the agreement with?” Landeen asked the committee rhetorically. “Are they even still around? If it’s an individual, are they still alive? Where are their assets? If it’s a corporate entity, have they been disbanded? Just because you have it in there doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to do it. Even if the person is still around, if they don’t have the funds in order to pay you, then you’re not going to get paid.”

Tech added that it sounded as though, if an agreement was made, the responsibility to install the sewer main would be shifted onto the city. In that case, he said, design, bidding, construction administration and construction work would be thrust upon the city.

“There are costs involved in that,” he said of the staff hours required to complete such tasks.

After the meeting, Landeen sauntered across the council chambers to speak with Tech about the agreement and the likely possibility that similar directives from committee and council may be in the offing. Meetings in an effort to craft a policy for such situations may be necessary to avoid piecemeal, case-by-case, patchwork agreements, Landeen indicated to Tech. Tech nodded before confirming that any agreement must come before the council for formal approval.

Hannah Hunsinger, Journal staff 

Kelsey Johnson, of Rapid City, skates with her son Porter, 3, at the Main Street Square ice rink on Tuesday afternoon. Johnson said she was taking advantage of the clear blue skies and mild weather to take her sons, Porter and Maverick, ice skating for the first time. Daily high temperatures are expected to remain in the 50s for the remainder of the week.

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State panel delays vote on airport projects

PIERRE | Members of the state Aeronautics Commission chose to wait rather than act Tuesday on improvements proposed for South Dakota public airports next year.

They delayed the vote in case other cities submit plans by the state deadline on Friday. The next meeting is Jan. 23.

The 38 projects so far seek more than $19 million of federal grants, according to a preliminary list distributed to commissioners. They include a new general aviation access road and other work at Rapid City Regional Airport.

The project would be funded with $1,949,796 in federal grant dollars and $108,322 each from state and local sources, but it is not likely to happen until at least 2019, said Toni Broom, deputy airport director for Finance and Administration.

The road would provide cleaner and safer access to the general aviation area located north of the Airport Road intersection with Terminal Road, which takes travelers to the main airport terminal, but Broom doesn’t anticipate that project happening for perhaps two years, she said Tuesday.

“The General Aviation access road rebuild is definitely an identified project in our master plan, but it has not been scheduled yet,” Broom said.

The Aeronautics Commission agreed, however, to spend up to $50,000 for South Dakota-specific pavement standards at general-aviation airports. “We think it will be significantly less,” said Jack Dokken, program manager for the air, rail and transit office in the state Department of Transportation.

Dokken said 50 different airports paid at least $3,000 or more apiece two years ago in pavement-variance requests to the Federal Aviation Administration. “We had to have one for every project,” he said.

The new state standards would apply on runways handling aircraft up to 12,500 pounds and would allow construction companies to buy lower-cost local materials. “I think that will be a good thing in the long run,” commission chairman Eric Odenbach of Eureka said.

Andy Peek, FAA manager for the Dakotas and Minnesota, met with the commission Tuesday and reviewed various changes in how the agency operates. The FAA prefers arrival-departure buildings that are less expensive and encourages state development of pavement standards for lesser-weight runways, Peek said.

He said the agency discourages funding for fueling systems except when fuels weren’t previously offered.

The FAA wants federal, state and local officials and consulting teams to be present together on each project, Peek said. “So everybody’s nodding their heads and it moves forward,” he said.

The full preliminary list of 2018 proposed projects is on page three at

Man pleads guilty to Rapid City shooting that seriously injured friend

A man pleaded guilty Tuesday to shooting a friend in July, but said he had blacked out and couldn’t remember the Rapid City incident.

Michael Wisecarver, 49, of Piedmont, admitted using a .22-caliber pistol to shoot Chad Arnold, 42, outside the victim’s home in the evening of July 2.

“I went to his house and I shot him, I guess,” Wisecarver told Judge Robert Mandel at a Pennington County hearing Tuesday afternoon. “He said I did it, so I did it.”

Wisecarver described Arnold as a “very good friend” whom he had known for four years.

Wisecarver, who had served in the Marines for eight years beginning in 1985, said he had not touched alcohol in two and a half years, but got drunk that day when he was thinking about the state of his finances and relationship. The last thing he remembered about July 2 was going to a friend’s house and chatting.

The memories returned with the sound of knocking, as he lay in bed, then Meade County law enforcement saying they wanted to talk to him about a shooting.

According to investigators, Wisecarver used a stolen pickup to drive up to Arnold’s home on the west side of Rapid City. Arnold told police he was in the process of moving out, and was either entering or exiting his vehicle, when Wisecarver shot at him from the driver’s side window multiple times.

Arnold was hit by one bullet, which pierced his left arm, traveled through his left side and settled against his spine, according to a detective’s affidavit submitted in court July 5. It said Arnold lay immobile in his driveway overnight till a passerby saw him and called for help the following morning.

He is now paralyzed, Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel told the court Tuesday.

If the case had gone to trial — it was originally scheduled for jury trial in December — Roetzel said Arnold would have testified that he had made eye contact with Wisecarver during the shooting. Wisecarver had also “confessed” to three people about trying to kill Arnold or shooting someone, the prosecutor said.

One of them told police that Wisecarver had described Arnold’s shooting as a “target of opportunity,” according to the police affidavit.

The pickup Wisecarver had been driving was later found with a .22-caliber gun and ammunition inside, Roetzel said.

Wisecarver will return to court for sentencing Jan. 10. He is facing up to 15 years in prison for aggravated assault, as well as five to 25 years for committing a felony with a firearm.

His lawyer, Matt Stephens, said the state’s attorney’s office will recommend a maximum of 30 years in accordance with their plea agreement. The judge makes the final sentencing decision.

Wisecarver is detained at the Pennington County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 bond.