Some property owners dispute assessments for new roads in Tea

Investigates

TEA, S.D. (KELO) — An unexpected bill can really add a lot of stress in your life. Some landowners in Tea say they know that feeling all too well.

In order to make major road improvements, the City of Tea is passing along some of those costs to landowners.

Here in Sioux Falls, by law the city can’t charge a business or landowner an assessment for an expansion of an arterial road.

Instead, the City charges commercial developers platting fees upfront.

But that isn’t the case in Tea, where landowners must chip in to pay for multi-million dollar road projects.

Bruce Luschen owns one of the few houses on Heritage Parkway in Tea. Several years ago when the city expanded the street, he found out he’d need to pay up.

“When I first found out about it, it was already a done deal. I went to the last meeting they had. I was busy working all the time,” Luschen said.

Luschen says he was assessed $25,000 for the improvements.

Luschen: No, I wasn’t happy with it at all. They had a road in here that was good enough in my mind, that was a two lane highway going through already. And there’s not enough business here still to support that.
Kennecke: Probably they’re planning for the future they would say.
Luschen: That’s fine, but then they should have to pay for it–not me.

Luschen is still paying for it, plus interest.

“I’ve been paying on it for ten years and I’ve got ten years left to go on it,” Luschen said.

City Administrator Dan Zulkowsky says landowners will eventually get the money back because the road improvement increases the value of their property.

“I’ve never seen one go down before; after a huge improvement–especially with an entrance in and out for their customers and themselves. I just never have,” Zulkowsky said.

“That’s not true. I’ve tried to sell this and I’m having no luck with adding $25,000 to it,” Luschen siad.

While the Heritage Parkway project was completed several years ago, the City of Tea is about to embark on a $12.4 million project to widen Highway 106, which Lincoln County just turned over to the city to allow for property assessments. A group of small business owners are upset about the cost to them, which runs tens of thousands of dollars, each.

You won’t want to miss our latest KELOLAND News Investigation into this “Road Rage,” Monday at 10.

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