Herald JournalHerald Journal, Aug. 22, 2005

HLWW school site receives positive reception by Victor Township

By Lynda Jensen

Following several years of hard searching, the future home for a new Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted high school appears to be closer to reality, with a favorable response from Victor Township officials Tuesday for a site in the heart of the township.

Although issues were raised – such as the close proximity of dairy and beef farms – township officials commented the location between Howard Lake and Winsted was acceptable during a joint meeting with the Howard Lake City Council at the township hall.

“This is the ideal piece of land,” Supt. George Ladd told township officials. Wright County Road 6 has fiber optic cable, and there’s not much muck or low-lying land on the parcel itself. It was noted that the county maintains the road, not the township.

“Road wise, this is the most favorable spot you’re going to find,” commented Burton Horsch of the Victor Township Board.

No official township action was taken, since the purpose of the meeting was to come up with common ground to work from, in order to revise the orderly annexation agreement between the two entities.

New boundaries for zoning would be extended from 70th Street to 80th Street, encompassing an area between Jellison and Hoyt Avenues.

The time frame is crucial for HLWW, which needs to have a timetable in place for its December referendum.

“We will try to move as rapidly as we can,” said Dave Hoover of the Victor Township Board.

City Administrator Kelly (Bahn) Hinnenkamp will call township attorney Mike Couric, who will draw up papers on the new agreement.

The next step is to conduct public hearings, possibly jointly, with both township and city approving the revised orderly annexation agreement, which will grant spot zoning to the school.

A committee was formed of two city officials, two township officials, and the attorneys for both to iron out details.

Farmers, students, and a farming community

Township officials asked about the close proximity of dairy farms to the new school site. “A good portion of the township is rural,” Hoover said.

“We are a farming community,” answered HLWW Supt. George Ladd.

Two dairy farmers are directly north of the school site, the Sean and Linda Groos farm, and Roger Heuer’s place. Diers Corporation owns land to the east of the school site, although the dairying operation is further east.

There are also are a number of beef cow farms, sprinkled around the area.

Hinnenkamp noted that laws have changed to protect farmers, with the exception of expansion or if a farmer stops operating, he can’t start again.

Expansion is something that a farmer might need to do just to keep alive, it was noted.

No leap frogging

The City of Howard Lake will not allow development to jump over any undeveloped land, Mayor Terry Ostgulen said.

The agreement between city and township will likely be worded as such, forcing the city to grow south from the city limits in an orderly fashion.

Township officials welcomed the idea of avoiding more spot zoning, since it would mean that development taking place that involves land owners who willingly wish to sell their land.

Ostgulen noted that the county will be involved in turn lanes for the county road, but little else, since an orderly annexation agreement was in place.

Hoover said that the county would not block plans being made.

What about Lake Ann?

Questions were also asked about residents around Lake being forced to tap into the city utilities being extended along Wright County Road 6.

“Only if Lake Ann people want to be annexed in,” Ostgulen answered.

The only other way for this to happen would be if the state forced Lake Ann residents to be annexed and tap in, Hinnenkamp said.

Who pays for the utility line?

Questions also came up about paying for the utility pipes leading to the school.

Ladd mentioned the idea that the school may be inclined toward paying for oversized pipes to accommodate additional development, with the school charging per hookup as development followed the lines.

It was noted that if no development took place between the city and school location, the school would bear the total cost of oversized pipes for no reason.

HLWW Board Member Dan Schaible said he felt the school shouldn’t install larger pipes without reimbursement.

School board candidate Randy Heuer stated that the city should pay the difference immediately, and that the school should not be involved in any city development.

“It’s not my responsibility as a taxpayer in the district, even temporarily, to pay for water for the city,” Heuer said.

Council Member Jan Gilmer said he thought that a water tower would be needed to accommodate the state requirement for a reserve of water for fire protection, however the engineers or architects have not mentioned the need for a tower.

It was noted that Dassel-Cokato uses its swimming pool as a fire reserve.

Township maintenance man Bob Bakeberg asked about long-range sewer plans, with Hinnenkamp answering that engineers have planned this out.

“Montrose said that, too,” Bakeberg said.

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