Wright County Board Minutes

May 17, 2005

The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.

The following correction was made to the minutes of 5-10-05: Page 3, 1st paragraph, replace the sentence, “As the sellers were not willing to negotiate on price, the County decided they would take care of the land rental” with the sentence, “The sellers did not appear to be interested in making that part of the agreement.” Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #4, “Cancel Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting Scheduled For Today & Reschedule” (Norman); Item For Consid. #5, “Reschedule Civil Defense Committee Meeting” (Norman). Norman requested that the following items be pulled from the Agenda: “Jay Wittstock, Surveyor, Boundary Commission Plat” and “Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, 1) Adopt Resolution RE: Wright County Snowmobile Association For 2005-2006 Season and 2) Parks Commission Minutes & Recommendations: Approve Parks Commission Request To Deny The City Of Annandale To Erect A Sign At Clearwater/Pleasant Park.” Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Russek, carried unanimously.

On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:


1. Performance Appraisals: B. Asleson, Atty.; L. Davis, Aud.; M. Janickila, IT; S. Bjore, J. Eaton; J. Hartmann; K. Kangas, J. Mackereth, P. Palmer, R. Pool, M. Wannebo, Sheriff.


1. Request Approval For Mike MacMillan, Director, & Margaret Munson, Program Supervisor, To Attend The 30th Annual Training Institute For The American Probation & Parole Association Conference, 7-27-05.

Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested approval of the plat, “GREKU HOMESTEAD” in Cokato Township. On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to approve a plat, “GREKU HOMESTEAD,” as submitted by Carl W. & Linda M. Greku, husband and wife, fee owners of property described in part as: The SW1/4 of the NW1/4 of Sec. 23, Twp. 119 N, Rge. 28 W of 5th principal meridian; also the NW1/4 of SW1/4 of Sec. 23, Twp. 119 N, Rge. 28 W of 5th principal meridian; also the N1/4 of E1/2 of the SE1/4 of Sec. 22, Twp. 119 N, Rge. 28 W of 5th principal meridian; also Gov. Lot 3 and part of S1/2 of Gov. Lot 4, Sec. 23, Twp. 119 N, Rge. 28 W of 5th principal meridian; with all outstanding taxes including green acre liability, if any, having been paid; the park dedication fee has been paid (#107176); the Township has agreed to accept the roads with a letter of credit on file with the Auditor/Treasurer; and the title opinion prepared by Will Dolan, attorney, has been reviewed by Thomas C. Zins, Assistant Wright County Attorney, who finds the plat to be ready for recording.

The claims listing was reviewed. Hiivala referenced the last meeting where the Board questioned warranty on the recent upgrade to the Board Room camera/sound system. The upgrade includes a one-year warranty on everything so the claim was paid. Hiivala pointed out two other substantial claims. One was to Harden Associates/MJ, $15,274.68 for aerial photography fees (page 5) and the other to the Sherburne County Sheriff, $49,519.03 for inmate boarding and pharmacy fees since December, 2004 (page 11). Sawatzke questioned the process used to track expenditures related to ditches. He did not feel benefitted landowners on the ditch should be assessed costs associated with a development petitioning to add water to a ditch and suggested the Auditor retain a list of costs related to specific projects. Hiivala responded that this could be done. Claims are researched prior to assessing costs to benefitted property owners. On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.

A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 5-10-05. Heeter moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0:

Comprehensive Plan. Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, gave a brief review of the background and history of planning in the County. With the growth and development that has been taking place there has been a shift from preservation of agricultural land and prevention of development in townships to more suburbanization. Over the past twenty years changes have been made to township land use maps, however, background information has not been changed in the County’s Comprehensive Plan and much of the information is outdated and irrelevant. He requested direction from the County Board regarding concentration on the Northeast Quadrant of the County, how to involve the Cities and possibly school districts, whether County Highway plans are ready and available for inclusion in the Plan, whether other facilities should be included, formation of a Planning Committee, and writing a RFP for a consultant to update the Plan. Salkowski provided a map showing population increase for municipalities in Wright County from 1970 to 2000 and a map of the Cities and Townships in the Northeast Quadrant of the County. He stated the major challenges facing Planning for Wright County are the need for new subdivision regulations to incorporate Park fees, gravel mining regulation reform and enforcement, relief for the Board of Adjustment in dealing with shoreland development requests, and the demand for Land Use Plan updates. Salkowski recommended the initial concentration for updating the Comprehensive Plan be on the Northeast Quadrant because of the growth in this part of the County, the age of the Buffalo, Monticello and Rockford Land Use Plans, major State highway corridors and improvements through this area, the need for coordination with city growth, and timing of Pelican Lake and other rural preservation issues. Heeter stated Silver Creek Township has requested early review of their land use plan. She stated that when you look at the County as a whole she agrees the pressure is in the Northeast Quadrant. Zins expressed concern over updating portions of the County at a time and having to work with different Comprehensive Plans when it comes to dealing with land use issues. There was brief discussion on writing the RFP. Eichelberg suggested Salkowski obtain copies of the Cities’ Comprehensive Plans for informational purposes. Norman suggested city involvement be an agenda item on a June 21st meeting with Cities. Salkowski distributed a handout of policy statements from the Wright County Comprehensive Plan for review by the Committee prior to the next meeting. Recommendation: Salkowski will draft a RFP to update theWright County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan for the Northeast Quadrant for review by the Board in early to mid June. (End of Committee Of The Whole Minutes)

A Personnel Committee Meeting as held on 5-11-05. Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0:

Discuss 4-H Coordinator/Parenting Through Divorce Position. A request has been received to split the 4-H Coordinator/Parenting Through Divorce Position into two half time positions. Peterson distributed a rewritten copy of the job description for the Parenting Through Divorce Coordinator/Facilitator position. It was clarified the job description will be reviewed by the Personnel Division and submitted to Hay. The half-time 4-H Coordinator position would be filled through the University of Minnesota process. MacMillan stated his only role in the Parenting Through Divorce Program has been to carry the funding as a line item in the Court Services Budget. He does not wish to add this position as a regular budgeted position within his department. MacMillan stated he has done some research on how other counties provide this program. He stated the Parenting Through Divorce Program is often offered through local non-profit agencies. There was consensus for the program to continue to be offered under it’s current format through year-end. Any further discussion on how to administer the Parenting Through Divorce Program will take place during the budgeting process. Recommendation: Separate the position into two half time positions effective June 3, 2005 with Peterson to retain the Parenting Through Divorce Coordinator/Facilitator position and the University to fill the 4-H Coordinator position. (End of Personnel Minutes).

Laid over from the last meeting, the Board discussed the request from the Fair Board to expend $30,000 for a sound system at the Fairgrounds. At that meeting, Mattson requested that Ward Westphal, Sound Committee Chairman for the Fair Board, contact John Sawatzke. Mattson and John Sawatzke had discussed the proposed upgrade and John wanted to visit with the Fairboard on possible options. The issue was laid over to allow this to occur. Today, Heeter stated that Ward Westphal, has been unable to reach John Sawatzke. Westphal is able to purchase the equipment wholesale (approximately $40,000 worth of equipment for $30,000) and felt confident that the equipment was needed. The sound system is an issue each year when planning for the Fair and there was unanimous support by the Fair Board to purchase the equipment. Heeter supported the purchase versus renting the equipment at $5,000-$8,000 per year. Mattson responded that the equipment would be subject to theft and would be located in conditions that are not climate controlled. He felt the expenditure was high considering the amount it would be used. He said John Sawatzke was knowledgeable in this area and does setups for Bronson shows. Russek also voiced concern with theft, noting that cameras have been stolen at the Human Services Center. Heeter noted that many boats are stored at the Fairground each year. Heeter moved to approve the expenditure for $30,000 by the Fair Board to purchase new sound system equipment for the Fairgrounds. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Heeter stated the Fair Board has funding available to purchase the equipment. Each year, they work on an upgrade to the Fairgrounds. Mattson said that John Sawatzke indicated no one had contacted him from the Fairboard. Heeter said Ward Westphal has attempted to contact him and has been unable to. Mattson said he would vote against the motion due to the expense. Discussion followed on insurance for the equipment. Robyn Sykes, MCIT, said the Wright County Ag Society is a member of MCIT. If the equipment were listed on the schedule, it would be covered subject to a deductible. Russek referenced the two parties being unable to get ahold of one another and felt alternatives should be pursued before a decision was made. He would not support the expenditure until the Fair Board were in contact with John Sawatzke. Heeter requested that since Mattson was able to contact John Sawatzke, that he do so and ask John to contact Ward Westphal. The original motion to approve purchase of the equipment was withdrawn by Heeter and Eichelberg. Russek moved to lay this issue over for one week, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0.

Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, requested the Board authorize signatures on a stipulation for a CSAH 22 bridge condemnation matter. The County previously proposed only to take a portion of a property owned by James and Joanne Chouinard in connection with the bridge project. As the remainder of the property was significantly impacted by such things as temporary easements, etc., the County Board approved a total take of three acres. As part of the purchase, the County would agree to allow the Chouinards to reside on the property for six months if desired. The stipulation being presented for approval would be filed with the Court and reflect the change in the extent of the County’s taking. The purchase price is still being negotiated. If not agreed upon, the issue would proceed to the condemnation commissioners. Asleson said the property owners are in agreement to move from the property. The area will be developed into commercial and industrial businesses. Russek moved to authorize signatures on the stipulation, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.

At the 4-19-05 County Board Meeting, a Public Hearing was held relating to the Carlton Willems/Paul Hansen variance request to the Feedlot Ordinance. The variance request relates to Willems constructing a home on a parcel approximately 75 feet from an existing feedlot (parcel 206-000-202104). The Wright County Feedlot Ordinance requires a 500 foot setback from a new dwelling to a registered feedlot. After considerable discussion at the Public Hearing, the Board set an on-site inspection for 4-25-05 at 9:00 A.M. Today, the variance request was presented back to the Board for their consideration. Tracy Janikula, Feedlot Administrator, provided a staff report. Two additional letters have been received on the issue in addition to the existing three letters. One was from Paul Hansen describing the difficulties in selling the property. The other was from the Ransoms who own the feedlot next to the parcel owned by Hansen. The letter from the Ransoms asks that if the variance request is approved, certain conditions be placed on the property (fencing and maintaining the tree/shrub buffer along the fence line). Janikula said a survey reflecting the location of the home on the property is desired to make sure setbacks are met. Past variance requests granted included two involving family members and the closest setback was 300’. The other setback granted was at 370 feet and involved a non-family member but provided a lot more buffer. Variances granted by other counties have a setback range of 600-800 feet. The staff recommended location of the proposed home be at the front of the property along State Hwy. 24. A variance would still be required but the distance would be increased to about 300 feet. Other issues addressed in the staff report include further setback requirements and issues such as safety, odor and noise.

Bob Adams, Attorney representing Hansen and Willems, provided photographs of the area including the Hansen property, an aerial of the feedlot, and a drawing depicting the Hansen property. The position of his client is to build the home on the hill instead of in the front of the property. He said the area in the front of the property is quite low or about 6-10 feet lower than the existing road. There is a high water table in this area (about 6 feet underground). Just behind this is a swamp. Adams referenced a photograph depicting where they would like to place the home (about 100-150 feet from the property line). He said this was the best and most useful location to place a home on the property. Upon review of the aerial photograph, he described the Ransom property as an average dairy farm (100-150 cows) and did not feel the setup would be intrusive to Willems’ proposed residence. Upon examination of feedlot cases that went to the Supreme Court, Adams found that they were centered around the damage the feedlot would create for surrounding areas. Adams said they are not concerned with the feedlot. Willems understands this is an agricultural area and that farmers have the right to make a living. Adams said his clients would address safety concerns by placing a fence around their property and conveyed that they do not want the Board to decline the variance. They felt placement of the home on the hill was the only sensible location. What was recommended by the County was too close to the road, there is noise from traffic, and the area is low and wet. There would be a considerable amount of site preparation required.

Russek said that if the situation were reversed and the Ransom’s were making application to place a feedlot that close to a home, the Board wouldn’t approve it. He said the same respect should be given to the Ransom’s. Although the applicants may be willing to take precautions, he noted that Ransom was a young farmer and may want to expand. Placing a home where requested could take that right away. As there is another building site on the location, he would not vote for the variance for that reason. Eichelberg understood the concerns of both sides but said this parcel was a lot of record before the feedlot existed. Looking at the legal aspect of it, hardship is supposed to be one of the things considered in granting a variance. He felt anywhere on the lot was a hardship due to the variance required. If he were the owner of the property, he would not want to have to alter the type of home due to the water table. If a variance is to be granted, Eichelberg felt it should be where the landowner wants it to be. He thought those involved could be good neighbors and agree to sign papers not to complain about smell, flies, etc. Heeter agreed that they were good neighbors but questioned what would happen if either decided to sell. She felt granting a variance in the requested location would impact the Ransom operation. If the Ransoms had a request for a feedlot with the same setbacks, the County wouldn’t consider it. She felt approval would not only set a precedence in the County but in the State. Mattson said his concern was the Ransom property had been in business for 100 years and there should not be a restriction for them to enlarge the feedlot. Russek did not want to put a farmer in that position. The feedlot ordinance was created for safety reasons and the County needs to uphold the ordinance as best they can. Sawatzke agreed with comments made by the Board. He referenced the point made by Eichelberg that this was a lot of record and creates a hardship. This entitles them to a variance but not necessarily the location closest to the property line. He favored the 300 foot setback with the location at the front of the property near the road.

Sandy Ransom, property owner, said the request would have a great impact on future expansion of the feedlot. Their feedlot permit is for up to 500 animal units. Her son has increased the size of the operation and plans to increase it more in the future. Most people do not locate their homes close to a feedlot and her home is quite far away from it. When the subject property was divided in the past, it was verbally promised to the Ransoms that the home would be placed near the road. She said that even with the best of friends, things can happen and it comes down to the law. Ransom asked that if the variance were granted, the Board consider the conditions referenced in the letter.

Eichelberg stated that the elected officials of the Township Board unanimously agreed upon the variance request. Ransom responded that when the applicant went to the Township Board, they were never notified. They were not given the opportunity to provide input or represent themselves. Coming before the County Board has provided them an opportunity to do so. She felt that members of the Township Board could have contacted them to make them aware of the request.

Questions relating to setbacks were directed to Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, and Janikula. It was explained that the current permit held by the Ransoms will cover up to 500 animal units. Anything over 500 animal units would require a setback of 1000 feet. The homes in the area would basically restrict expansion dependent upon where things were located. Under the ordinance, the Ransom property is registered as a feedlot up to the property line. A new building would need to be 100 feet from another property. Above 500 animal units, a new feedlot permit would be required. The Ransoms could not be exempted in advance from future permits as the number of animal units would be unknown. The existing shed does not need to meet feedlot setbacks. Salkowski said that there are no issues with the shed assuming the plumbing that was illegally installed in the past has been removed. Hansen did not own the property when this was done.

Asleson suggested the Board direct the Attorney’s Office to draft findings and an order to be brought back before the Board at a future meeting. If the variance is granted, this information would include the extent of the variance and any attachments to the variance. Salkowski felt they could meet with both property owners and incorporate these items into the documents. The distance of the variance would also be calculated and incorporated into the documents. Sawatzke thought the County should require the landowners to retain a certain amount of trees and vegetation along the property line.

Sandy Ransom felt a fence was important for protection of the children in the area. Children are naturally drawn to animals and it could be a dangerous situation without an inside protective fence. She said they will maintain their fence for the cattle. Bob Adams responded that children can wander from any direction, not just his client’s property. This would be something they would not have control over. It would be a burden to request the landowner to install a childproof fence around the entire property. Heeter said that in this situation, the cattle are up to the property line. Adams said the property owner could place a fence around the residence if there were children. Eichelberg said if the variance were granted to build near the road, the County would not require a fence to be erected between the home and the road even though there is a danger for children in that situation. He understood the Ransoms wanted protection but there is currently a barrier to discourage them from going near the cattle. With regard to the existing shed on the property, Adams said that when Hansen purchased the property the water had been disconnected to the building. There is a well that is used to water trees and there is electricity in the shed. The shed was not set up to be a residence at this point in time.

Russek moved to direct the Attorney’s Office to draw findings consistent with allowing a variance for placement of a home in the farthest northwest corner by the road that is appropriate. One of the conditions would be that all of the trees and shrubbery are to remain intact between the hill and the feedlot. If it is determined that a safety issue arises for the children of this house, a fence would be erected at the expense of the homeowner and not the feedlot. The motion was seconded by Heeter. Heeter said the motion would include a survey due to the unclear lot lines. She had concern with use of the shed, as one of the potential buyers wanted to use this as office space. She thought a stipulation should be included in regard to this. The motion also includes referring this issue to the meeting of June 7th. Asleson said under State Statute 1599, the County is to take action within 60 days or 120 days if needed. The applicant was notified and consented that this would take up to 120 days when the site visit was scheduled. Adams said they did not have any objection to the time frame of 120 days to make a decision. Heeter said she would not be available on June 7th for this discussion and inquired whether it could be laid over for one more week. It was the consensus of all present that the date of June 14th was agreeable. The motion was amended to refer this issue to June 14th and carried 5-0.

The meeting recessed at 10:30 A.M. and reconvened at 10:38 A.M.

Pat Melvin, Special Projects Administrator, introduced Jane Hennagir and Robyn Sykes from MCIT (Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust). Hennagir, MCIT Account Representative, presented an overview of the 2005 Member Report for Wright County. MCIT is a self-insuring risk pool, with membership consisting of 81 counties. Collectively the members self-insure losses and purchase reinsurance for catastrophic losses. Richard Norman, Wright County Coordinator, serves as a member of the MCIT Board of Directors. Since 2000, dividends to Wright County have totaled $1.4 million. The average cost of coverage after the dividend is about $294,469 per year. This includes coverage for such items as workers compensation, vehicles, liability, bond coverage and MCIT services. MCIT recently changed their Mission Statement to “Providing Minnesota Counties and Associated Members Cost Effective Coverage with Comprehensive and Quality Risk Management Services.” Effective 2-1-05, MCIT started self-administering workers’ compensation claims to become more efficient, more responsive to members, and more cost effective. Robyn Sykes, Executive Director, presented a plaque to Wright County recognizing its continuing commitment and loyalty to this program. Norman stated that as a member County, Wright County should be secure in the fact that Sykes holds the Executive Director role. She has brought stability and challenges the Board to look at new initiatives. He asked Sykes to address increasing jail costs, especially related to health and prescription drug costs. Sykes said that with regard to inmate medical expenses, MCIT is reviewing whether to self insure or to joint purchase insurance through a master policy. There is a small market for coverage providers due to the group involved (inmates are considered high risk). A couple of options are being analyzed for inmate pharmaceuticals. A report will be presented to the MCIT Board in 60-90 days. Sykes invited the Board to direct any concerns they have to her. Hennagir and Sykes were thanked for their presentation.

Russek left the meeting at 11:05 A.M.

On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Heeter, all voted to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting regarding Stormwater and Erosion Control Ordinances for 5-24-05 at 10:30 A.M.

At the request of Norman, Heeter moved to cancel the Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting scheduled for today at 1:00 P.M. and reschedule it for 5-24-05 at 1:30 P.M. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.

At the last Civil Defense Committee Meeting, the Committee set their next meeting for 5-25-05 at 11:00 A.M. Norman said Genell Reese has a conflict with that date and requested the Board reschedule the meeting. Heeter moved to reschedule the meeting for 6-22-05 at 11:00 A.M., seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0.

Bills Approved

ADP Screening /Selection. $114.00

Ameripride Linen/Apparel 387.56

Aramark Correctional Serv. 10,411.29

Kirk Asplin Oil Co. Inc. 111.86

Auto Glass Center Inc. 741.64

B & D Plumbing/Heating 206.00

William Bajari 5,029.20

Barnes Distribution 647.61

Benton Co. Treasurer 1,100.00

Blaine Lock & Safe Inc. 137.50

Boyer Truck Parts 110.64

Bristows Kawasaki/Polaris 4,867.89

City Buffalo 342.83

Center Point Energy 552.32

Climate Air 2,499.50

Commissioner of Transp. 2,057.46

Cub Pharmacy 1,519.50

D.A.G. Document Services 330.00

Elmer Eichelberg 152.62

Josh Erickson 127.14

Marlene Erickson 1,500.00

Excel Systems LLC 429.16

Tom Feddema 108.42

Thomas Fedor 100.00

Greg Findley 341.00

Michell Flemming 341.00

Frontier Precision Inc. 358.91

Janet Gholson 273.00

Gilbarco Inc. 150.00

Gilson Company Inc. 388.16

Raymond Glunz 200.00

Gould Bros Chev-Olds 133.12

Hancock Concrete Prod. Co. 1,192.80

MJ Harden Associates 15,274.68

Denny Hecker’s Monti Ford 952.91

Karla Heeter 244.79

Herald Journal Publishing 144.08

Hillyard Floor Care Supply 2,087.45

Holiday 7,512.35

J Craft Div of Crysteel Mfg. 211.83

Chris Jahnke 115.05

JR’s Appliance Disposal Inc. 1,135.00

Koch Materials Co 1,765.27

LaPlant Demo Inc. 692.55

LexisNexis Matthew Bender 110.00

M-R Sign Company Inc. 102.57

Marco Business Products 3,744.96

Marks Standard Parts 2,343.63

Menards 145.70

Minnesota Copy Systems 447.35

Minnesota Elevator Inc. 3,427.00

MN County Attys. Assoc. 260.00

MN Dept. of Revenue 420.00

City Monticello 6,339.52

Motorola Communication 2,918.96

Mountain Stream Sports/App 811.24

Nextel Communications 633.92

N. Suburban Towing Inc. 127.80

Northland Pharmacy 580.41

Office Depot 3,247.87

Russell Opsahl 3,769.20

Precision Prints of Wright Co. 208.42

Quinlan Publishing Co. 154.88

Qwest 8,178.79

Dennis Redepenning 285.00

Reed Business Information 296.94

Replay Systems, Inc. 2,793.50

Road Machinery/Supplies Co. 113.23

Royal Tire Inc. 1,584.72

Ruttger’s Bay Lake Lodge 235.36

Ryan Motors Inc. 103.28

SBC Paging 676.96

Sherburne Co. Sheriff 49,519.03

Shooting Star Casino Hotel 212.80

Specialty Turf & Ag 1,028.44

St. Cloud Times 110.50

St. Joseph Equipment-Mpls. 226.16

City St. Michael 4,310.60

State of MN-Administrative 163.20

State of MN-Info Tech Div. 408.18

Stockholm Township 330.60

Streichers 11,203.80

Super Express 103.31

Tires Plus 147.80

Total Printing 957.33

Truck Utilities Mfg. Co. 2,258.29

Ultimate Office 145.35

United Rentals Hwy. Tech. 1,907.21

Unlimited Electric Inc. 515.28

Verizon Wireless 1,334.43

Shawna Vollbrecht 125.00

Voss Lighting 139.30

Waste Management TC West 141.57

Westside Equipment 181.93

Westside Wholesale Tire 234.76

Wright Co. Highway Dept. 477.35

Wright Co. Surveyor 8,282.77

Wright-Hennepin Electric 2,106.65

43 Pymts. less than $100 2,346.58

Final total $200,077.07

The meeting adjourned at 11:11 A.M