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Cass to hold public hearing on ADA-related improvements

The Pilot-Independent - 1/8/2018

A public hearing will be held Feb. 6 at the Cass County Courthouse during the regular board meeting to consider Cass County's Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) Transition Plan, as proposed by the Highway Department.

At the Jan. 2 county board meeting, Highway Engineer Darrick Anderson and Assistant Engineer Josh Howe presented the plan. Last summer, the Highway Department did a self-evaluation of current transportation infrastructure, policies, practices and programs in order to identify how they affect accessibility within the public right-of-way and how improvements can be made.

It also examined the condition of the Pedestrian Access Route (PAR) system and identified the need for improvements such as curb ramps, sidewalks/trails, traffic control signals and access to county facilities.

The initial evaluation showed 71 pedestrian ramps need to be replaced and pedestrian ramp accesses to 12 public buildings need to be built, for a total of $498,000. The goal set in the Transition Plan is for items identified in the County Improvement Plan to be ADA compliant after five years; and after 20 years, 80 percent of accessibility features within county jurisdiction be ADA compliant, to the extent feasible.

Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk suggested the 20 year timeline might be too long for those currently struggling with mobility issues and in light of an aging population. He also wondered whether Local Option Sales Tax revenue could be used for improvements.

Commissioner Jeff Peterson suggested Cass work with cities on ADA changes during future street or road projects. Those and other issues will be discussed at the Feb. 6 public hearing.

The Cass County Buffer Ordinance was presented to the board and approved without changes during the second reading public hearing. The Planning Commission held the first reading Dec. 11 and unanimously recommended forwarding the ordinance without change to the Board. The ordinance takes effect 30 days after final approval.

However, approval of a second ordinance that amends a section of the Land Use Ordinance was tabled to allow time for slight language modifications, so the ordinance will align with state statutes. The revised ordinance will be presented for second reading at the next board meeting, 9 a.m.Jan. 16 at the Land Department in Backus.

 
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