A rocky road dispute in Asbury - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: A rocky road dispute in Asbury

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ASBURY (KWWL) --  An Asbury road construction project has been approved by the city council. Members met Tuesday night and approved the plan to widen less-than-one mile of Seippel Road.

It's currently at 24-feet, but needs to be expanded to 37-feet, in order to make improvements such as resurfacing and turn lanes.

This proposed project comes with a price tag of $2.6 million, and the city is asking the approximately 35 property-owners along that stretch of Seippel Road to foot about 13% of the bill.

"We don't feel it's the residents' duty to take on as much burden as they're asking," affected neighbor Frank Ward said.

He, along with several other homeowners, oppose the scope of the project, saying the city can repair the road without widening it.

"$10,690 would be my assessment," neighbor Jim Abitz said, whose property touches 474 feet of Seippel Road.

Both Abitz and Ward signed temporary easements, but neighbors who refuse to do so face much higher assessments, since the city will have to build a retaining wall on those people's properties.

Ward said his assessment is more than $8,000, but he estimates that would have been closer to $40,000 if he hadn't signed the temporary easement. A neighbor who didn't sign the easement is looking at an assessment around $50,000, Abitz said.

"People are raising families, they're sending kids to college. They're paying mortgages. That money just isn't available to those people over here," Abitz said.

These neighbors say, since that stretch of Seippel isn't a residential road, they shouldn't have to pay for the improvements. However, Asbury mayor Jim Adams said it's more complicated than just passing the whole cost on to the entire population of the city.

"If the residents paid $50,000 for a retaining wall because somebody didn't want to pay a grading easement, is that fair to 4,000 residents to make it best for one or two? You know, you have to weigh everybody's interest," Adams said.

This dispute, he said, is far from settled.

"This is probably a mid- to late-summer project. Until the first shovel of dirt is turned, we will continue to work through these negotiations to get the graded easements that both parties can live with," Adams said, adding the city's attorneys will meet with the attorney several of the homeowners have hired.

Online Reporter: Becca Habegger

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