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City Council to reconsider recently approved utility ordinance
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City Council to reconsider recently approved utility ordinance

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Rapid City Hall

Rapid City Hall 

Two landlords raised questions about a utility ordinance the Rapid City Council passed late in 2020 during the Wednesday working session.

The council decided it will revisit the ordinance during its next working session Jan. 27, although the ordinance is already in effect.

Ordinance No. 6443 was unanimously approved at the Nov. 16 council meeting, the same meeting where council member Ron Weifenbach was sworn in and the council approved the Rapid City Indian Boarding School Lands resolution that set a framework for the working group.

The ordinance amends the city’s municipal code Chapter 13.08 to require property owners to open utility accounts with the city and clarify that the city won’t permit tenants or occupants to open a city utility account. 

Public Works director Dale Tech said there’s a lot of misinformation circulating, but tenants would still be able to pay the utility bill in the landlord’s name.

“We never said that the landlord must pay the bill,” he said. “The landlord can have the tenants pay the bill, the bill can go directly toward the tenants still and they be the one to pay it.”

The ordinance was approved with five others that amended sections of the city’s municipal code.

Long-range planner Kip Harrington presented on the Cambell Street structure replacement and multi-modal routing study with an authorization to advertise request for proposals.

The structure is on the state Department of Transportation’s schedule for 2027 reconstruction. Harrington said Cambell Street used to be state Highway 79 and belonged to the state. When what is now Highway 79 was constructed, the city and state had an agreement that the city would take responsibility for the roads and the state would be responsible for the bridge structure, he said.

The structure is south of the intersection of Cambell Street and state Highway 44, and crosses over East St. Joseph Street and the Rapid City, Pierre and Eastern railroad line. It’s also been labeled as a principal arterial street.

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Harrington said the structure is about 50 to 60 years old now and is coming to the end of its life.

“If you look at the bridge now, there’s no pedestrian or bicycle facilities on it whatsoever,” he said. “It’s very narrow, there’s no shoulders, there’s nothing. It’s bare minimum to get vehicles over it.”

Moving forward, the state wants the possibility to put bikes and pedestrians over it along with motor vehicles.

“That area is kind of a little mess of conflicting roads and the railroad, and there’s no easy way to figure out how to get everybody through that area,” Harrington said.

He said the way the structure is set up now with its ramps, it’s not safe for bikes or pedestrians while vehicles exit at high speeds.

The study would look at what could be done about the ramps, how can people get over the bridge, and if there’s alternate routing through the area that makes more sense.

Community Development Block Grant division manager Michelle Schuelke presented on the CDBG-CV3 funding preliminary recommendations. 

The preliminary recommendations include money to the Minneluzahan Senior Center, Pennington County Health and Human Services, Wellspring dba Wellfully, the YMCA, and Youth and Family Services.

Council member Darla Drew said she knows the list presented is necessary and a good list of nonprofits requesting funds, but it concerns her that it’s the “usual suspects.”

“I think that we have a lot of other needs in the community right now that aren’t being recognized,” she said.

She said she’s not going to challenge the decisions that have already been made for this year, but next year she’d like to be part of the conversation.

The council will consider the items discussed at the working session at its next council meeting, which will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday because Martin Luther King Day is Monday.

— Contact Siandhara Bonnet at siandhara.bonnet@rapidcityjournal.com

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