Do I need a building permit for . . . . ?

A building permit is required if you intend to erect, alter, demolish or move any building.  Projects requiring permits include the following: porches, garages, decks, finishing basements, sheds (if larger than 120 square feet), room additions, remodeling, fences, fireplaces, retaining walls over 4 feet, re-roofs, residing, pools over 24 inches deep or 5,000 gallons, water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners, sprinkler systems, and windows.

Permit applications and written instruction are available at City Hall.  The City does not issue permits for electrical work.  Electrical permits must be obtained from the Minnesota Electrical Board (651) 284-5064.

The application review process takes approximately 5-7 days.  If you have any questions on the permit process, please contact the City of Jordan at (952) 492-2535.  Building code questions can be directed to the Building Inspector by calling (763) 479-1720.

Please keep in mind the City of Jordan is unable to accept credit cards for building permit fees.

Does something tragic have to happen before a traffic signal is installed?

Traffic signals don’t always prevent accidents. They are not always an asset to traffic control. In some instances, total accidents and severe injuries increased after signals were installed. Usually, in such instances, right angle collisions were reduced by the traffic signals, but the total number of collisions, especially the rear-end type, increased.

There are times when the installation of signals results in an increase in pedestrian accidents. Many pedestrians feel secure with a painted crosswalk and a red light between them and an approaching vehicle. The motorist, on the other hand, is not always so quick to recognize these “barriers”.

When can a traffic signal be an asset instead of a liability to safety? In order to answer this, traffic engineers have to ask and answer a series of questions:

  • Are there so many cars on both streets that signal controls are necessary to clear up the confusion or relieve the congestion?
  • Is the traffic on the main streets so heavy that drivers on the side streets will try to cross when it is unsafe?
  • Are there so many pedestrians trying to cross a busy main street that confusing, congested or hazardous conditions result?
  • Are there so many school children trying to cross the street at the same time that they need special controls for their protection?? If so, is a traffic signal the best solution?
  • Are signals at this location going to help drivers maintain a uniform pace along the route without stopping unnecessarily?
  • Does the collision history indicate that signal controls will reduce the probability of collisions?
  • Do two arterials intersect at this location and will a signal help improve the flow of traffic?
  • Is there a combination of the above conditions which indicates that a signal will be an improvement rather than a detriment?

To aid them in answering these questions, engineers compare the existing conditions against nationally accepted minimum guidelines. These guidelines (often called “warrants”) were established from many observations at intersections throughout the country by experienced traffic engineers. Where the guidelines were met, the signals generally were operating effectively with good public compliance. Where the guidelines were not met, public compliance was reduced, and additional hazards resulted.

A traffic signal that decreased accidents and improves the flow of traffic is an asset to any community. On the other hand, an ill-advised or poorly designed signal can be a source of danger and annoyance to all who use the intersection; pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.

How are my city utility bills determined?

The City of Jordan sends bills for utility services every other month including charges for water, sewer, stormwater, and street lighting.  The funds collected are used to supply service, provide maintenance, support billing, and help fund capital improvements for past and future projects.  Each utility has a comprehensive plan.  The fees for the utilities are calculated based on the needs identified in the Comp Plans.  These Comp Plans are reviewed yearly to see that the funds are adequate to support the utility system.

The capital improvements needed are system wide expenses.  An example of the city’s improvements consist of the new 1998 wastewater treatment plant and reconstruction of the water, sewer, and storm water system.  In 2008 the City of Jordan upgraded its well system through a project that drilled a new well, rehabilitated the water treatment plant, and did maintenance on two other older wells.  The City collects capital charges on new housing to help pay for these capital items as well.  Most of the cost comes from capital and connection fees but a portion is collected from the user and availability fees which are explained below.

UTILITY FEES

On the semi-monthly utility bills the various items that may be charged to each citizen are:  water charges (flat, residential, and commercial), sewer charges (flat, residential, and commercial), storm water (residential or commercial), MN test fee, and the street lighting fees.

WATER FEES

The water utility portion of the bill consists of a flat fee and a user fee of either water residential or water commercial.  The fees and rates are the same for residential and commercial properties.

The flat fee, charged at a rate of $8.37/month, is an availability fee. Even if you do not use any water, this fee is charged as long as water is available to you.  It is based on the capacity available.

The user fee is collected at a rate per 1,000 gallons used.  The rates for usage in 2016 are:

  • Up to 30,000 gallons is $4.57 per 1,000 gallons;
  • Between 30,000 to 60,000 gallons is $5.85 per 1,000 gallons, and
  • Above 60,000 is $6.7.13 per 1,000 gallons.

For monthly bills the tiers are cut in half to 15K and 30K.

There is also a fee for MN testing.  This fee is to help cover the costs associated with testing the city’s drinking water to check for contaminants and bacteria.  The test fee of $6.36 annually is collected on the first utility bill of the year and sent to the state.

SEWER FEES

The sewer utility portion of the bill consists of a flat fee and a user fee of either sewer residential or sewer commercial.  The fees and rates are the same for residential and commercial properties.

The flat fee, charged at a rate of $13.73/month, is an availability fee. This fee is charged even if there is no usage and is based on the capacity available.  The user fee is similar to the water fee as it is charged on a basis of 1,000 gallons used.  The fee for 2016 is $6.67 per 1,000 gallons for both residential and commercial usage.

STORMWATER FEES

The fees for stormwater are charged on a system wide basis to help pay for the cost of stormwater infrastructure.   The residential storm water fees are charged on a per unit rate of $6.16/month.  The commercial charges for stormwater are $18.50/acre per month.

STREET LIGHTING FEES

The City of Jordan charges a street lighting fee to help pay for the cost of maintenance and service of the city streetlights.  This fee is $1.84 per lot/month for residential and $4.31 per lot/month for commercial.

WATER METERING

The City of Jordan has a radio reading system for reading the water meters.  Each water meter has a radio device on it that sends the current reading to a computer in one of our public works trucks. This radio reading system is very precise and time saving for the City.  Every two months starting in January the meters are read by Public Works.

SEWER USAGE

The City of Jordan does not use a meter to read sewer usage.  The City takes the winter month’s water usage and averages the three readings from January, March and May each year.  These are called period 1, 3 and 5 which covers the usage from November through April.

After a new meter reading registers a new usage for one of these months it will take the previous year’s usage for the bill out of your average for the sewer usage.  The current usage is not used in periods 1, 3 or 5 to figure the average until the next bill.  This is done through the third bill of the year to figure your winter usage.  Your sewer usage will most likely change every period during the March, May and July bills.  It should then remain constant during the September, November and January bills.  We use this winter average because it is assumed that there is no lawn watering or other outside water usage during the winter months.  Thus all the water used in the winter is basically going down the sewer system.

In the event a citizen does not have any winter usage, an average of 12,500 is used.  Usage of 12,500 gallons is the average water usage for our City for residential accounts for a two-month period.  The sewer usage for all commercial accounts is the same as the water usage for each month.

If commercial accounts have extensive watering during the summer, a second water meter is recommended.  A commercial customer must request a second meter from the City.  If the City agrees that a second meter should be installed, the customer is required to pay for the new meter, reading system, and installation of the meter.  The City does not install newly-plumbed meters, so a plumber is needed.

QUESTIONS

Our staff would be happy to speak with you.  If you have any questions about your Jordan utility bill, please come down to City Hall or call 952-492-2535.

People who can best answer your questions are: Jayme Pekarna, Accountant; Susie Bendzick, Cashier; or Morey Schaefer, Finance Director.

When is a crosswalk unsafe?

A number of years back, the City of San Diego published some startling results of a very extensive study of the relative safety of marked and unmarked crosswalks. San Diego looked at 400 intersections for five years (without signals or four-way stops) that had a marked crosswalk on one side and an unmarked crosswalk on the other. About two and one half times as many pedestrians used the marked crosswalk, but about six times as many accidents were reported in the marked crosswalks! Long Beach studied pedestrian safety for three years (1972 though 1974) and found eight times as many reported pedestrian accidents at intersections with marked crosswalks than at those without. One explanation of this apparent contradiction of common sense is the false security pedestrians feel at the marked crosswalk. Two painted lines do not provide protection against an oncoming vehicle and the real burden of safety has to be on the pedestrian to be alert and cautious while crossing any street. A pedestrian can stop in less than three feet, while a vehicle traveling at 25 mph will require 60 feet and at 35 mph approximately 100 feet.

Pedestrian crosswalk marking is a method of encouraging pedestrians to use a particular crossing.  Such marked crossings may not be as safe as an unmarked crossing at the same location.  Therefore, crosswalks should be marked only where necessary for the guidance and control of pedestrians, to direct them to the safest potential routes.

When will lower speed limits be posted on my street?

A common belief is that posting a speed limit will influence drivers to drive at that speed. The facts indicate otherwise.
Research conducted in many parts of this country over a span of several decades has shown that drives are influenced more by the appearance of the highway itself and the prevailing traffic conditions than by posted speed limit.
Minnesota’s Basic Speed Law requires that:

“No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing. In every event speed shall be so restricted as may be necessary to avoid colliding with any person, vehicle or other conveyance on or entering the highway in compliance with legal requirements and the duty of all persons to use due care.”

In Minnesota, the maximum speed limit in an urban district is 30 miles per hour unless otherwise posted. An urban district is defined as the territory contiguous to and including any street which is built up with structures devoted to business, industry, or dwelling houses situated at intervals of less than 100 feet for a distance of a quarter of a mile or more. Outside urban districts, the maximum speed limit for any passenger vehicle is currently 55 miles per hour. These speeds are not always posted but all Minnesota motorists are required to know these basic 30 and 55 mile per hour speed laws. Note that freeways and expressways may be posted between 60 and 70 mph depending upon conditions.
Under Minnesota law, intermediate speed limits (except school speed limits) between 30 and 55 miles per hour may be established on any road, including County highways and City streets, only by the State Commissioner of Transportation. The commissioner must establish the speed limit upon the basis of an engineering and traffic investigation. This investigation includes an analysis of roadway conditions, accident records and the prevailing speed of prudent drivers. If speed limit signs are posted for a lower limit than is needed to safely meet these conditions, many drivers will simply ignore the signs. At the same time, other drivers will stay within the posted limits. This generally increases the conflicts between faster and slower drivers, reduces the gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely and increases the difficulty for pedestrians to judge the speed of approaching vehicles. Studies have shown that where uniformity of speeds is not maintained, accidents generally increase.

Where do I vote?

City of Jordan residents should vote the Jordan High School (600 Sunset Drive).  We are very grateful to the school administrators for offering their facility to accommodate our voters.  New residents should complete a Minnesota Voter Registration Application, which are available at Jordan City Hall or Scott County.

Why aren’t there “Children at Play” signs posted on streets?

An often heard neighborhood request concerns the posing of generalized warning signs with “SLOW-CHILDREN AT PLAY” or other similar messages. Parental concern for the safety of children in the street near home, and a misplaced but widespread public faith in traffic signs to provide protection often prompt these requests.

Although some other states have posted such signs in residential areas, no factual evidence has been presented to document their success in reducing pedestrian accidents, operating speeds or legal liability. Studies have shown that many types of signs attempting to warn of normal conditions in residential areas have failed to achieve the desired safety benefits. If signs encourage parents and children to believe they have an added degree of protection, which the signs do not and cannot provide, a great disservice results.

Because of these serious considerations, Minnesota law does not recognize, and Federal Standards discourage, use of “Children at Play” signs. Specific warnings for schools, playgrounds, parks and other recreational facilities are available for use where clearly justified.

Children should not be encouraged to play within the street travelways. The sign has long been rejected since it is a direct and open suggestion that this behavior is acceptable.

Why doesn’t the City put in more stop signs?

A stop sign is one of our most valuable and effective control devices when used at the right place and under the right conditions. It is intended to help drivers and pedestrians at an intersection decide who has the right-of-way.

Some common misuse of stop signs is to arbitrarily interrupt through traffic, either by causing it to stop or by causing such an inconvenience as to force the traffic to use other routes. Where stop signs are installed as “nuisances” or “speed breakers,” there is a high incidence of intentional violation. In those locations where vehicles do stop, the speed reduction is effective only in the immediate vicinity of the stop sign, and frequently speeds are actually higher between intersections. For these reasons, it should not be used as a speed control device.

A school crossing may look dangerous for children to use, causing parents to demand a stop sign to halt traffic. Now a vehicle which has been a problem for 3 seconds while approaching and passing the intersection becomes a problem for a much longer period. A situation of indecision is created as to when to cross as a pedestrian or when to start as a motorist. Normal gaps in traffic through which crossings could be made safely no longer exist. An intersection which previously was not busy now looks like a major intersection. It really isn’t – it just looks like it. It doesn’t even look safer and it usually isn’t.

Most drivers are reasonable and prudent with no intention of maliciously violating traffic regulations; however, when an unreasonable restriction is imposed, it may result in flagrant violations. In such cases, the stop sign can create a false sense of security in a pedestrian and an attitude of contempt in a motorist. These two attitudes can and often do conflict with tragic results.

Well-developed, nationally recognized guidelines help to indicate when such controls become necessary. These guidelines take into consideration, among other things, the probability of vehicles arriving at an intersection at the same time, the length of time traffic must wait to enter, and the availability of safe crossing opportunities.

Why shouldn’t we have speed bumps to slow down the hot rodders?

The control of speeding in residential neighborhoods, while maintaining acceptably safe street and roadway conditions, is widespread concern which requires persistent law enforcement effort. The inability of posted speed limit signs to curb the intentional violator, leads to frequent demands for installation of “speed bumps” in public streets and alleys. However, actual tests of various experimental designs have demonstrated the physical inability of a speed bump to control all types of lightweight and heavyweight vehicles successfully. In fact, a soft sprung sedan is encouraged to increase speed for a better ride, while some vehicles may lose control.

The courts have held public agencies liable for personal injuries resulting from faulty design. Increased hazard to the unwary; challenges to the daredevils; disruption of the movement of both emergency and service vehicles; and undesirable increase in noise have caused speed bumps to be officially rejected as a standard traffic control device on public streets and alleys.