Wright County Board Minutes

July 5, 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 6-28-05 Board Minutes: Page 4, 3rd paragraph, 1st sentence, change from “MC” to “AMC” (Heeter). Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #2, “Board Meeting On Cable TV” (Sawatzke). Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.

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

A. ADMINISTRATION

1. Performance Appraisals: B. Jans, Hwy.; M. Hoberg, K. Preston, Sher.

2. Refer 2006/2007 City Contract Rates To The Ways & Means Committee.

B. HIGHWAY

1. Distribution Of 2004 Annual Report.

2. Approval Of Wright County Highway Right-Of-Way Plat No. 48-A, CSAH 22 Bridge Project, St. Michael.

3. Approve Agreement Between BNSF Railway, City Of Monticello & Wright County For CSAH 18 Grade Crossing.

On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.

A Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 6-28-05. Heeter moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:

Discuss Capital Projects Fund. Hiivala distributed a handout showing remaining obligations for capital projects and a handout listing all Board approved projects (attached). There was discussion on funding for the Public Works Storage Building, reimbursement from the Historical Society in the amount of $68,505.14, items which may be eligible for transfer to the equipment note, and additional revenue from an increase in recording fees. Other items to be added to the listing include chiller insulation, property adjacent to the Fairgrounds, and matching grants for parks land. Hiivala recommended the Board consider a transfer of undesignated funds from the General Fund and Human Services Budget to the Capital Projects Fund. The status of the State’s Budget and uncertainty of levy limits and a hard property tax freeze were mentioned. Norman recommended Springsted be invited to attend the next meeting to demo a capital improvement software package. Hiivala will update his handouts for continued discussion at the next meeting. Recommendation: Recess the 6-28-04 meeting until Tuesday, July 5, 2005, 10:30 A.M. (End of BCOTW Minutes)

Sawatzke viewed a recent County Board Meeting on cable television and referenced problems associated with the visual quality. After discussion, Sawatzke moved to direct staff to contact EPA Audio Visual to determine whether there are problems with the system in the Board Room or whether it is a problem with the cable company equipment. Results should be forwarded to the Building Committee. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.

Chuck Davis, Environmental Health Officer, presented a request not to require an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) on the Annandale Rock Products gravel mine in Section 35, Southside Township. The neighbors petitioned the County Board to have an EAW (Environmental Assessment Worksheet) done to evaluate the impact to the surrounding area. In the past, the County Board has never required an Impact Statement on any other gravel pit in the County. Davis presented the draft Findings and Order on the EAW which outlined the responses and concerns received during the comment period (ended 5-25-05):

F I N D I N G S

The comment period for the Annandale Rock Products Gravel Mining Project in Section 35, Township 121, Range 28, ended on May 25, 2005 at 4:30 p.m. Comments were received from Attorney Allen E. Christy, Jr., retained by Jim Hudson, a Lake Sylvia resident in the vicinity of the project, the Greater Lake Sylvia Association, the Department of Natural Resources Central Region, the DNR Natural Heritage and Non Game Research Program, the Lake John Association and Bob Fleskes, a Lake John resident. The list of agencies that received a copy of the EAW for review is enclosed.

The concerns in order of the number of responses were: 1) surface ground water and well water issues, 2) with truck traffic, 3) dust caused by traffic, 4) the effects of the washing operation on adjacent wetlands and lake, and 5) the affects of the operation on wildlife.

Annandale Rock Products hired Braun Intertec to study the ground water in the area and determine whether the project would draw down the water table enough to have adverse effect on the nearby wells and nearby wetland. The study used well boring records in the vicinity to help determine the ground water table elevations. The well record also shows that all but two wells in the vicinity are screened below a clay lens. Since the mining will be above the clay lens, the wells should not be affected. The study also indicates that the groundwater draw down will be minimal. The well location map erroneously places two wells within the mining boundary.

The only state agency to respond was the DNR Central Region hydrologist. He did not take issue with Braun’s study, but he would further protect the wetland during the water appropriation process if the project is permitted. He would set the depth of excavation at 1058. The DNR’s Natural Heritage Program response was not available at the time of the Central Region’s response. The Natural Heritage Program did not find a threat to any endangered flora or fauna in the area.

Braun has studied the metal accumulation and migration in the sediment pond. The study concluded that no evidence is known, to Braun or myself, that indicates this would be a factor at this site.

Essentially, there are no elements of the project that pose the potential for significant environmental effects that cannot be addressed in the project design and permit development processes or project denial by the Planning Commission.

Therefore, I recommend to the Board that no EIS is required.

O R D E R

The Wright County Board determines that there is no need for an Environmental Impact Statement.

___________________

Wright County Board Chair

(End of Findings & Order)

Davis said the Board needed to determine whether to accept the EAW or require an EIS. An EIS has never been required for a single gravel project. If the Board felt an EIS should be completed, he thought all gravel producing areas in that section of the County should be studied. An EIS is generally completed where a large area would be affected (i.e., landfills, nuclear power plants). He felt for an individual mining location, most of the environmental problems could be handled through the permitting process. The last EIS done was for the landfill and was completed by the PCA. A mandatory EAW is required for anything over 40 acres. Sawatzke recalled that the original request was for approximately 39 acres and the documentation now states 51.3 acres. Davis responded that there was a petition with 25 signatures for an EAW. Annandale Rock Products decided that if an EAW was to be completed, it may as well include other potential gravel mining areas.

Allen Christy, Attorney, was retained by Jim Hudson and the Lake Sylvia Association and submitted comments during the comment period. He said they realized there may be technical issues beyond his ability to analyze them. They decided to retain Steve Mendon of Wenk and Associates for purposes of reviewing the EAW that was prepared together with all materials submitted. Their conclusion was that the EAW was not adequate for purposes of determining there would be minimal negligible impact on the environment from this project specifically, and in conjunction with all of the other mining activities in this area. Hudson and Christy reviewed the mining pits in the area and there was no reclamation. He said it was significant to about 200 homeowners, who feel they have established a residential community there. Within 1.5 miles, he said this would be the sixth mining area. The residents are concerned with air and water quality, traffic, etc.

As to the EAW, the analysis of Mendon was that there would be wetland degradation. Upon his review, there are wetlands in the immediate area of the project and within the mining perimeter, which he said was not addressed within the EAW. They are concerned with surface runoff, affluent dust and dirt. The topography of the land on its surface is all downhill to Goose and John Lakes. They only had data only on wells that were drilled since well data filing was required. He understood there were other wells in the area. With regard to the well data in the EAW, clay liners were referenced. Mendon’s conclusion was that there were no clay liners in at least two of the wells drilled. He thought that if that was not continuous, and this well data indicated it was not, that is the way mining materials move into the groundwater and shallow wells and follow the groundwater into the lakes. Christy said Mendon felt there was reason to believe the groundwater gradient was toward these lakes. They did not commission anyone to complete drillings but based their position on historical data. With regard to traffic issues, there is no indication that any of the mining issues will be shutting down. They didn’t find the comment to be credible that there would not be increased traffic. He said the mining area would be visible from the lake surfaces and that screening is impossible. This would have an impact on marketability of lands. They did not feel mine reclamation was addressed nor the cumulative impact of six mines could be taken into account during the permitting process. As this is one of six mining areas, they did not feel this should be considered a small project. Christy thought the completion of an EIS would be the cost of the applicant under State Law.

John Kolb, Attorney from St. Cloud, appeared before the Board in June of 2004 on this application. At that time, the application was for 38.5 acres for aggregate mining. Since that time, it was determined that an EAW would be completed. Annandale Rock Products decided to look at potential acreage which could be mined, bringing the total to 51 acres. He said of the concerns laid out by Davis, water resources was the one addressed the most in the comments by the professional consultants. Water resources were also addressed the most by other agencies such as the DNR, SWCD and MPCA. As to the wetlands, the SWCD had to make determinations as to type and boundaries and location of wetlands on the site. They have also had to determine what impacts are allowable on that site. Those approvals have gone forward. He said traffic, noise, and safety are zoning issues and should be addressed under the CUP.

Kolb referenced Christy’s comment, “minimal negligible impact” and said that is not the standard in State Law for ordering an EIS. There has to be a determination for significant environmental impact. That is the purpose of the EAW, whether there is that potential. He concurred with the analysis brought forth by Davis. He said unfortunately, environmental review has become a delay tactic to prevent projects. The applicants provided the required information under Statute and administrative rules, which will hopefully relieve them of the burden of completing an EIS. If an EIS is required, Kolb suggested review of the entire County. This applicant is only exercising what is allowed within the Zoning Ordinance. He hoped they would concur with the recommendation of the Planning & Zoning Office and make a negative declaration on the EIS.

Russek said that many of the issues and questions will be reviewed by the Planning Commission. He supported the EAW as it was close to the 40 acres. He said they could control the depth of the mine through that process. Mattson said he had concern, as there were problems with the landfill and the water table. A lawsuit resulted and the County lost. He felt the lake associations have major concerns on this site. He inquired whether Southside Township had a recommendation on this request.

Kevin Geisinger said he bordered the proposed mining area. He is not a member of the Southside Township Board but was involved with a number of residents to review the proposal sent to the County. When the Township looked at this for recommendation to Planning & Zoning, Geisinger was unaware of it. The original proposal sent from the Township to the County only had two or three points listed. Once Geisinger reviewed this material, he was very concerned. He contacted the Township Board members and found out the document approved was not typed the way they had thought it was to be done. A resident meeting was held. Many residents attended, reflecting the concern for the project. He said there were not any set guidelines on this type of request, that each township does its own thing. He said the Township passed the request as they did not feel they had much power anyway, that Planning & Zoning would make the decision. In order to turn the request down, they would have to have legal proof as to why this action was taken, so they just passed the request. There is a two-page citizen letter outlining criteria if approved. It only addressed the response from the Township, not that the citizens approved of the site. The Township approved the citizen letter at a following meeting and it is on file at the County. He said that letter does not represent the true intent of the citizens of the area. With this new information, Sawatzke felt the Township Board could make a new motion. Russek said with the increase in acreage, there would be time for that review. Davis said notices were sent last week that this will be heard before the Planning Commission on 7-21-05. The entire process has started over again due to the delay. Russek said before approval, a reclamation plan would be required. They are also more strict on screening requirements.

Mattson had concern with reclamation problems and the number of people involved in the area. He felt Annandale Rock Products should complete the EIS to answer concerns people have. Sawatzke inquired whether Annandale Rock Products had any pits that were not reclaimed. Davis said many pits are active so reclamation has not begun. Davis said there were four active pits in the vicinity of this one. Sawatzke asked why not finish and reclaim a pit before opening another.

Tim Ferrell, Annandale Rock Products, said the largest reason is that they make 15-20 products. He said certain areas provide different material for these products and they also mine in areas that provide the most efficiency to their business. Ferrell said they have two active gravel pits. They have completed the reclamation to proceed to different phases and followed the requirements set forth by Planning & Zoning. Sawatzke inquired whether there were any inactive gravel pits. David Ferrell, Annandale Rock Products, said there is one pit in Southside Township opened in 1962 (40 acres). It has a clay base. The entire area was not mined as it came within a two mile distance of Annandale. Material has been hauled in for cover. Annandale Rock Products approached the Township and they agreed it was a good idea to develop this into housing. They spent three months planning, and it was decided there should be eight plats there. The problem lies in that this area is zoned ag in the County Zoning Ordinance. Russek said that as this is zoned ag, the only thing that can be done is to level it off. Heeter said the tough issue is that gravel needs to be mined where it is, but water quality or quality of life can’t be compromised. She said the people in the lake association need to be protected.

Kevin Geisinger said that Annandale Rock Products provides a valuable service but does not like the proposed site. With regard to unclaimed pits, that issue needs to be addressed. He said the site referenced that is unclaimed looks terrible due to junk and weeds growing. Sawatzke said with regard to that site, it is zoned ag and the County would not want to set the precedent of approving development on a mining site in an ag area.

Davis restated that this issue will come before the Planning Commission on 7-21-05 and public comment will be taken. The Planning Commission will review all issues such as routes, dust control, reclamation, etc. and they would have the option to deny. Sawatzke felt that Annandale Rock Products had completed what they had been asked to do. He said the process will begin over again, involving the Township, citizens and Planning Commission. He agreed with staff that an EIS was not needed and was willing to support that recommendation. Mattson restated that with the growth of the County, he felt an EIS should be completed to satisfy everyone. After further discussion, Russek moved to not require an EIS and to approve the Findings and Order, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 4-1 with Mattson casting the nay vote. Mattson said he voted against the motion as he felt an EIS should be completed.

Bills Approved

Brian Abrahamson. $139.62

Advanced Graphic Sys. Inc. 427.55

City Albertville 50,031.38

Allied Blacktop Co. 101,526.25

Ameripride Linen/Apparel 789.03

Ancom Technical Center 462.90

Aramark Correctional Serv. 5,495.02

Arrow Terminal LLC 346.97

B & D Plumbing/Heating 834.00

Barnes Distribution 243.19

Lawrence Bauman 945.08

Blaine Lock & Safe Inc. 137.50

Boyer Truck Parts 770.91

Bryan Rock Products 336.75

Budget Printing 460.97

Buff ‘N’ Glo Inc. 548.45

Buffalo Bituminous 2,068.06

Buffalo Hospital-Otpt. Comm. 483.96

Buffalo Mini Mix Inc. 106.50

Centra Sota Lake Reg. LLC 29,786.19

Central MN Mental Health 1,012.50

Chamberlain Oil Co. 480.88

Climate Air 1,185.10

CNH Capital 144.53

Commissioner of Transp. 687.83

Dales Auto Repair & Towing 133.13

Diamond Mowers Inc. 220.66

Gateway Companies Inc. 9,978.00

GCS Service Inc. 282.48

Graphic & Printing Services 239.40

Greenside Up 296.13

Hardings Towing 421.35

Head Lites Corporation 329.60

Denny Hecker’s Monti. Ford 908.79

Karla Heeter 248.04

Hickman Excavating Inc. 420.00

Hillyard Floor Care Supply 3,787.04

HSBC Business Solutions 172.48

Interstate All Battery Center 789.34

Interstate Automotive 106.50

Intoximeters Inc. 257.65

Tracy Janikula 107.95

Bernard Kirscht 354.60

LaPlant Demo Inc. 636.55

Michael Laurent 100.72

Lawson Products Inc. 411.59

William Lieb 555.30

M & E Engineering Inc. 3,097.22

M-R Sign Company Inc. 143.03

Tim Mackey 1,000.00

Marco Business Products 5,143.51

Meteorlogix 2,636.58

Minn. Spring & Suspension 1,508.63

MN Counties Comp. Co-op 100.00

Mountain Stream Sports . 109.02

Nextel Communications 2,212.17

North Suburban Towing Inc. 127.80

Office Depot 1,061.87

Omann Brothers Inc. 4,425.13

Palo Companies Inc. 463.59

Postmaster-Buffalo 486.00

Qwest 1,752.00

Dwight Redden 100.00

Reds Auto Electric 367.03

Ricmar Industries 274.04

Royal Tire Inc. 1,569.75

Robert Schermann 665.67

Donald Schmidt 492.12

Douglas Schmiginsky 100.00

Sherburne Co. Sheriff 29,619.20

Software House Int’l Inc. 1,659.27

Source One Supply Inc. 442.59

SRF Consulting Group Inc. 1,251.27

Standard Truck & Auto 703.11

Star Tribune 555.64

Streichers 945.03

Structural Specialties Inc. 10,251.41

William Swing 341.23

Tilsner Carton Co. 385.37

Tires Plus 450.49

Total Printing 650.98

Truck Utilities Inc. 237.24

Larry Unger 337.11

United Rentals Hwy. Tech. 131.00

Verizon Wireless 103.54

Voss Lighting 320.88

WalMart Store 01-1577 484.39

Janelle Webb 182.91

West Central Industries 1,216.50

Westside Equipment 17,060.00

Wright Co. Highway Dept. 1,719.43

Wright Co. Ag. Society 200.00

Wright Hennepin Electric 147.78

Xcel Energy 1,221.00

25 Payments less than $100 1,137.83

Final total $319,798.79

The meeting adjourned at 10:07 A.M

Published in the Herald Journal July 25, 2005.