City to review public utility lot fees

Homeowners who maintain public utility lots through Red Deer may not see their lease agreement with the City of Red Deer change that much, city manager Craig Curtis said on Friday.

Homeowners who maintain public utility lots through Red Deer may not see their lease agreement with the City of Red Deer change that much, city manager Craig Curtis said on Friday.

Curtis said he’s directed Land and Economic Development Department staff to prepare a report on public utility lots that will go to city council on Aug. 22.

Property owners recently received a letter from the city that suggested that their leases to maintain these areas, sometimes directly in their backyard, would rise to $250 annually from the $30 annual bill that’s been in place for a number of years. The city was also asking residents to put a $2-million insurance liability on the easement, versus $1 million before.

Staff had worked out the market value of the lots and increased the rate based on that, Curtis said.

“As many as the residents have pointed out, there are a number of other factors with regards to the utility lots,” Curtis said. “In many cases, it’s highly advantageous to the city to lease them.”

In many cases the lease-holders maintain the utility lots by cutting grass and weeds.

Council will receive some options regarding the lease arrangements with property owners — to keep it close to the existing rate, a nominal increase, something in between or at the market rate.

“I certainly hear the concern,” said Curtis.

Morrisroe resident Larry Mazzei told the Advocate recently that he was shocked to receive the city’s letter.

He and his wife moved to their home 15 years ago and there had been a few trees growing in the easement area located in his backyard. His easement runs nine metres wide by 30 metres long.

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