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Clifton: Possible road name change meets opposition

Seven residents who live on 740th Avenue in the town of Clifton attended this month's Town Board meeting to oppose the renaming of their road, as proposed by the county.

According to Town Board Chairman Leroy Peterson, county officials say 740th Avenue is not set up correctly in the 911 grid system and the road was numbered incorrectly when the numbered road system was put into place. Peterson said local EMS personnel have had trouble finding on the grid where a 911 call is placed from homes on 740th Avenue.

The county recommends renaming the lower portion of 740th Avenue 1131st Street and the east-west section of the road at the northern portion of the subdivision 741st Avenue. The road is a quarter-mile long and ends in a cul-de-sac.

Sue Raveling, W11304 740th Ave., said the EMS didn't have a problem finding her house about a month ago when she called 911 when her husband fell.

Raveling and her husband, Rob, fiercely oppose the renaming of the road, especially using two names. They believe it's unnecessary to change the name of a road that has had the same name for 17 years.

"If you want to make it confusing, that's confusing," Rob Raveling said. "We've had other emergencies in the past and they were able to find it."

Board members sympathized with residents but said the decision is not up to them, but the county.

"Sometimes people's feelings don't necessarily mesh with health and safety," Supervisor Gregg Eggers said.

Resident Kevin Peterson, W11340 740th Ave., said he and his neighbors are upset not only about the name change, but about the fact that the county did not notify residents directly of the recommendation. The county notified the Town Board.

Peterson said he is also concerned about the time and money involved in an address change and said he never had any trouble with the EMS finding his home.

"You always have a chance of someone driving in a ditch, getting lost," Peterson said.

Peterson explained the 911 grid overlays a map, which is accurate. The trouble comes from the fact that roads don't simply run east to west, north to south anymore. One road can change direction many times.

Residents agreed to hold off further discussion of the name change until they can question Andy Pichotta of Pierce County Land Management.

Also at this month's meeting Russell Jacques, W11917 769th Ave., and Evan Varga, W12152 757th Ave., presented a petition and their progress in convincing AT&T to provide Internet DSL access to Clifton's rural River Falls residents.

They visited 120 residences and 100% of those residents said they want DSL provided to their households.

In a progress note written to Clifton residents, Jacques and Varga said, "The petition has been sent to various levels of operations within AT&T, our local and state politicians and governing boards involved in telecommunications."

Jacques said that while Broadband wireless is used by some residents, it doesn't work adequately in this bluff country. He said reception isn't good and service is often interrupted and more costly than DSL.

One reason, Jacques said, is that the town of Clifton is near a two-mile area in the National Scenic Riverway where cell phone towers aren't allowed.

Varga said there is no reason rural River Falls residents can't have DSL being as close as they are to the Twin Cities.

"There are places far more rural and remote that have DSL," Varga said.

He used northern Minnesota as an example.

Jacques and Varga described the situation as a "big game of chicken." AT&T would have to put in the cables to provide the DSL, but the company only would do so if it felt it was profitable. AT&T would spend the money to put the cable in, but would then want to keep all the business for itself. However, second tier companies can come in and pay fees to use the cables AT&T laid, and possibly claim some of the business. That's why companies are sometimes hesitant to put in cables.

Rural Prescott residents have DSL through Century-Tel.

Jacques and Varga encouraged residents to continue to call AT&T and request DSL and to appeal to local politicians.

"Our goal is to make sure we keep the interest alive out there," Varga said.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Warren Quade, N6904 County Road F, appeared before the board to plead a solution to his outdoor wood stove issue.

The town has issued several citations to Quade mandating the removal of an outdoor wood stove that sits on an easement between his property and Jerry Dockendorf's. The area is zoned residential; therefore the outdoor stove is illegal.

Quade, who wants the stove to be grandfathered in under the ordinance, brought a letter from the man who sold him the stove, a cancelled check used to pay for the stove and a receipt from Prescott Electric who hooked up the stove to prove that the stove was put in 15 to 18 years ago, well before the ordinance was in place.

Quade also brought in a neighbor and his son-in-law as witnesses to the fact of the age of the stove.

Eggers said it was impossible to prove if it was the same stove in Quade's yard since there are no serial numbers on the stove.

Eggers also said this is not a zoning issue since the stove is located in a residential area, so the stove cannot be grandfathered in.

Quade brought up another outdoor wood stove operating in the town, but Eggers said the location of that stove is not in a residential area, so the ordinance doesn't apply there.

Quade also brought in a petition he drew up and had his neighbors sign saying the smoke from his wood stove doesn't bother them.

Eggers said he spoke with a few of those neighbors, who told him they regret signing the petition because the smoke does smell and bothers them. He also said the EPA passes laws the board must uphold concerning pollution.

Quade denied ever burning oil-soaked pallets or plastic bottles. He said he might have burned some wood that was green, but that the wood he burns is disease-free and clean.

"I had no problem until you people passed that ordinance," Quade said.

Peterson restated that it's not a zoning issue.

"You're living in a residential district," Peterson said. "That's the problem."

Quade then suggested building an enclosure around the stove with a stack chimney.

The board said it would check with its lawyer to see if that would be a legal solution, but the stove would have to be moved 20 feet from the lot line and off the easement where it now stands.

In other business:

The Board of Review meeting was set for June 23.

Fahrner Asphalt Sealing, LLC was approved to fill cracks on the following roads: 840th, 757th, 1070th, 1060th, 1225th and tentatively 740th.

A building permit was issued to Michelle Ptacek-Wrisky, N7216 1170th, for a pole shed.

A building permit was issued to John Ewing, W12853 720th, for a 50 by 40 foot storage shed.