Wright County Board Minutes
MAY 1, 2007
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.
Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes of 4-24-07, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #6, “MCIT Seminar on 5-16-07 RE: Joint Powers Agreements” (Russek). Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Sawatzke requested that Item A2, “Claim, Adolfson & Peterson, $243,283.73, (Pay Application #1)” be removed for discussion. On a motion by Sawatzke, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the remainder of the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: D. Lee, T. Rasmuson, Assr.; B. Lutes, A. Mohaupt, Atty.; S. Deckert, P&Z; P. Bailey, J. Brown, P. Burke, M. Fox, S. Kunkel, C. Simms, C. Strand, Sher./Corr.
3. Claim, KKE Architects, $169,322.24.
4. O/T Report, Period Ending 4-20-07.
5. Request To Hire Stacy Waddell, Legal Secretary, Attorney’s Office, Eff. 5-21-07 (Step 4).
1. Seasonal On/Off Sale Beer License Renewal-Olson’s Campground (Silver Creek Twp.).
2. Seasonal On Sale Beer License Renewal-Clearwater Lions Club (Clearwater Twp.).
1. Award Contracts For Seasonal Requirements.
Item A2, “Claim, Adolfson & Peterson, $243,283.73 (Pay Application #1)” was discussed. Sawatzke referenced the last page of the claim backup material which reflects the pay application is based upon a $40,566,419 project. Sawatzke said that is not a figure that the Board has agreed to. Sawatzke said the fee should be based on the original contract sum of $1,287,340.00. As representatives of A&P will be in attendance later in today’s meeting, it was decided that the payment would be discussed at that time. No action was taken on this item.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested adoption of a draft resolution establishing a $100 change fund for the Assessor’s Department to provide an assortment of currency necessary to provide change for cash paying customers. Heeter moved to adopt Resolution #07-21, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Heeter said the Auditor’s Office was informed by Deaton’s that the current postage metering machine will not sufficiently calculate the postage with the postal rate increase set for 5-14-07. The current equipment was purchased in 2003 at a cost of $13,347.65. With the trade in value, the proposed equipment cost is $8,850.60 (including the first year meter rental and first year maintenance). Another option would be to lease a machine at a total cost of $15,573.60 (including the first year meter rental and the first year maintenance). Hiivala consulted with Craig Hayes, Purchasing Agent, who indicated that the proposal falls within the State contract amounts. The recommendation from Hiivala and Hayes is to proceed with equipment rental due to the unforeseen improvements in technology and future postal changes. The funding source would be the Non-Departmental Budget (100-6205). Eichelberg moved to approve the recommendation to lease the postage metering equipment, seconded by Heeter. Discussion followed on the cost of maintaining the equipment. Hiivala indicated that maintenance for the first year is free and that the monthly cost for years 2-5 includes maintenance. Sawatzke said Hiivala should make sure that maintenance is included. The motion carried 5-0.
The claims listing was discussed. Mattson referenced Page 8, Aramark Correctional Services, and corrected the invoice number to read 7233000377. Mattson moved to approve the claims subject to audit, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, said in October, 2006, the County Board adopted a resolution in support of a four county Parks, Trails, Open Space and Natural Resource Plan to include Wright, Sherburne, Isanti, and Chisago Counties. Embrace Open Space and the Trust For Public Land will be facilitating planning sessions with each County involved. The first step in the planning process was a mapping session for conservation corridors in Wright County held in November, 2006. This is the second step in the planning process. Mattice said the next meeting is scheduled for 5-30-07 from 1:00 P.M. 2:30 P.M., at the Wright County Public Works Building. He inquired as to whether Board Members were interested in attending. After discussion, Eichelberg moved to authorize attendance by himself and Sawatzke. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried unanimously.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 4-25-07. At today’s County Board Meeting, Heeter indicated that the County has received one bid thus far on the carpeting. Staff was directed to obtain other bids if possible. Sawatzke felt Monticello Carpeting should be contacted as they have experience with large organizations. Heeter felt Jerry’s Floor Care in Annandale would also be another possibility. Heeter moved to approve the minutes and recommendation, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
CARPET REPLACEMENT, COURTS AREA
Heeter stated that she toured the Court Administration area to view the carpet conditions. Heeter noted that the carpet was in bad shape. She stated that in one corridor between the courtrooms, there were several duct tape “patches” and was concerned that this may pose a safety issue. Court Administration will likely remain in the Government Center for a minimum of five years, so replacement of the carpet is necessary. Hayes stated that the carpet for the Government Center was placed in 1990. Most of the carpet has been updated since that time except for the Sheriff’s Department, the Commissioner’s Meeting Room, third floor and the Courts area. Hayes stated that the Courtrooms appear to be in rough shape; however Courtroom 5 will be remodeled sometime in the future. Hayes proposed that the carpet be replaced at the time of the remodel. Hayes proposed replacing the carpet in the corridors as well as three small rooms (including Nordeen’s workspace). Hayes stated that he has only received one bid and is waiting for one additional bid which is due today. Heeter asked for an estimate of what the carpet would cost per square yard. Hayes stated that in the past the carpet cost approximately $24/sq.yd. Hayes stated that he specified a vinyl base, commercial Mohawk carpet, and removal and disposal of the carpet in the bid requests. Hayes stated that the vinyl base alone is going to cost approximately $2,000. Nordeen informed the Committee that there is a hole in the floor which was originally carpeted over, and due to foot traffic, the area has become ripped and worn. Nordeen stated that she would really like a proper repair done of that area. Hayes stated that his bidders were not aware of the hole. Heeter and Norman expressed interest in having Hayes seek two additional estimates. Hayes informed the Committee that the carpet will be a shade of blue, similar to what is already being used throughout the building. RECOMMENDATION: Hayes to request two additional quotes to carpet the corridors of the Courts area, including three small rooms. If available, Hayes will present the quotes at the 5-01-07 Board Meeting otherwise they will be reviewed at the next Building Committee Meeting. (End of Building Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 4-25-07. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0:
COURT SERVICE JACKETS/SAFETY EQUIPMENT
Norman stated that his point of concern at the 3-20-07 Board Meeting was that MacMillan’s purchase was a County policy and procedure issue relating to providing equipment to employees. Norman explained that he flagged the claim five minutes before the Board Meeting and MacMillan was alerted at that time of the issue. MacMillan clarified that he did not purchase the jackets for every employee in his Department. He purchased 8-10 Spring and 8-10 Winter jackets (all of varying sizes) that are to be checked out by Court Services Agents when they go out into the field. MacMillan stated that although he knows safety is an issue in every Department, his agents do Sheriff/Deputy ride-alongs and escorted home visits during evening and weekend hours. MacMillan clarified that the jackets are stored in his department and are available for check-out prior to going out into the field. Sawatzke asked MacMillan if his Agents are required to wear the jackets. MacMillan stated yes. Wearing the jackets is circumstantial, not mandated by Statute. MacMillan also explained that he is trying to obtain flak jackets for the Court Services Agents as well. His goal is to acquire three or four used flak jackets at no cost. His Agents are required to do 16 hours of mandatory Sheriff/Deputy ride-alongs each year. MacMillan stated that the Deputies are good at not placing Agents in high risk situations; however the Safety Committee felt that there is a risk by not properly uniforming the Agents. Norman cautioned MacMillan on used flak jackets as they lose their effectiveness over time. MacMillan stated that he is aware of the risk, however he plans to get the jackets at no cost, and the jackets would be optional for Agents to wear. Eichelberg asked MacMillan if the Court Services Agents wear identification. MacMillan stated that identification badges are carried along side the Wright County ID cards. While doing ISP work, the Agents are supposed to wear their jackets which also identifies that they are Probation Agents. Norman asked who would be responsible for the maintenance of the jackets. MacMillan stated that the jackets are nylon and he would machine wash them. Norman asked MacMillan what the consequences would be if an Agent chooses not to wear the jacket when he/she is out in the field. MacMillan stated that he might take disciplinary action. Sawatzke asked MacMillan why the Agents were required to do sixteen hours of Deputy ride-alongs. MacMillan stated that it is so that his Agents can develop relationships with law enforcement in the areas that they are covering. MacMillan added that he believes it’s a good practice. Sawatzke asked MacMillan how many employees he has, and their average number of ride-alongs. MacMillan stated he has 24 employees and some employees average 20-30 hours of ride-alongs. Eichelberg asked Norman if any policy changes would be required. Norman stated no. Norman reiterated that he felt that MacMillan should have brought this forward for policy and protocol prior to making the purchase. No further action is required.
PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL, DON MLEZIVA, HUMAN SERVICES DIRECTOR.
Mleziva had a schedule conflict and was unable to attend the meeting. This review will be held as part of the next Personnel Committee Meeting. (End of Personnel Committee Minutes)
A Ways & Means Committee Meeting was held on 4-25-07. At today’s County Board Meeting, the following corrections were made to the minutes: Item 1, Seasonal Bid Openings, remove “Norman” from those present (Sawatzke). Mattson referenced the second item, Keys for EOC, and said the door will be made a card key door. Access to the room will be limited and the system will be able to delineate who is using the room. This is being done because of the expensive equipment in the room and to assure the room is being utilized correctly. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
Seasonal Bid Openings.
Bids were closed at 9:00 A.M. Bids for the various seasonal categories were opened. Meyer read the totals as bids were opened. Highway staff will tally the bids and present a summary and recommendation to the County Board at their 5-01-07 County Board Meeting.
Keys For EOC.
The Sheriff Department requests a key to the EOC (Emergency Operations Center). The Emergency Management Director is under the direction of the Sheriff. This position needs access to the EOC in case of an emergency or disaster. The room would also be utilized for emergency operation training provided by the Sheriff Department. The EOC is partially funded by NSP nuclear funding. Reese holds the only key issued for the EOC. She had concern with who would gain access to the room and security of equipment/supplies for the EOC. The key to the EOC also provides access to nuclear response storage and the Veterans Service/Civil Defense Office. Miller indicated that the Sheriff Department is required to have access to an EOC. If the current EOC cannot be utilized by the Sheriff Department, the County would need to provide a second EOC. The plans for the future Jail/LEC included an EOC; however, it was decided that a second EOC was not required. This may have to be revisited if the space is designated strictly as an NSP Nuclear EOC. Considerable discussion followed on access, security of items in the EOC, and how the room would be utilized. Sheriff Miller restated that the EOC would be utilized for emergencies and emergency operation training, and it would involve only high security individuals. It was the consensus that Hayes should obtain quotes to change the EOC west entrance to a card key door, and to change the lock on the door on the northeast side of the EOC (leading into the hallway) so that Civil Defense can gain access to the EOC, but those in the EOC cannot gain access to the hallway/Civil Defense Office. Hayes estimated the cost at over $3000 ($2000+ for the card key door & $500 to change the lock). Sheriff Miller was directed to notify Reese of scheduled training times and to avoid use of the EOC when Nuclear Training is occurring (the months of July, August and September). Recommendation: Hayes will obtain quotes and bring them back for Committee review prior to proceeding with the work. (End of Ways & Means Committee Minutes)
Russek announced that the Washington Fly In will be held June 6th & 7th with reservations due by May 4th. Russek and the Highway Engineer attended last year. Russek said Fingalson was willing to attend if authorized. Heeter did not feel this was a critical year to attend, although she believes in the value of attending. It was decided that no action would be taken on this item.
At 9:30 A.M., Russek closed the bid process for the sale of excess Mn/DOT Right of Way in the City of Buffalo. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, opened the bids received:
Bidder; Cashier’s Check; Total Bid
Thomas & Vicki LaPlant; 5%; $22,000.00
John Lundsten representing BANATCO, Inc.; 5%; $27,500.00
Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, indicated that laying the bids over for one week would allow review of the bids and the opportunity to present a purchase agreement at the next meeting. The County reserves the right to reject any and all bids. Upon previous review of the property, it was determined that the best use of the property would be to combine it with an adjacent parcel due to access issues. Sawatzke moved to lay the bids over for one week for preparation of a purchase agreement with the high bidder and to request a recommendation from Greg Kramber, Assessor, on whether he feels the bids are consistent with the market. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Heeter, roll call vote carried 5-0 to adopt Resolution #07-22 proclaiming May 13-19, 2007 as Transportation Week for Wright County.
The Board discussed a draft resolution prepared by the Highway Department which would authorize SRF Consulting Group, Inc. to prepare two right-of-way plats, one for CSAH 35 (from CSAH 19 to approximately one mile west) and one for CR 119 (from its current intersection with CSAH 35 to the new eastbound alignment of CSAH 35). Initially, Eichelberg and Heeter moved to adopt the resolution as presented. That motion was withdrawn as Mattson had questions regarding the cost for SRF Consulting to do the work. Mattson moved to lay this issue over for one week so the Highway Department can provide additional information on the funding proposal. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried unanimously.
Norman requested that the Committee Of The Whole Meeting scheduled for 5-08-07 be rescheduled due to a date conflict with the SWCD staff. The meeting is being held to discuss the Comprehensive Local Water Plan. Heeter moved to reschedule the Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 5-22-07 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Russek announced an upcoming MCIT Joint Powers Training Session being held on 5-16-07 at the St. Cloud Holiday Inn. Sawatzke moved to authorize attendance, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
The meeting recessed at 9:40 A.M. and reconvened at 9:45 A.M.
Russek closed the bid process for the West Parking Lot expansion project. Craig Hayes, Purchasing Agent, said Otto Associates (Project Engineer) was unable to be at today’s meeting. The intent is to open the bids and lay them over for one week for review. The Engineer’s estimate was $165,000. Electrical and irrigation costs are not included in the bids. Hayes opened the bids received. Heeter moved to lay the bids over for one week, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 4-0 (Eichelberg absent):
Bidder; Bid Bond; Total Bid
Knife River, Buffalo; Yes; $127,893.73
Omann Brothers, Albertville; Yes; $137,982.50
Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix, Annandale; Yes; $142,426.90
Sundblad Construction, Cokato; Yes; $137,753.40
The meeting recessed at 9:50 A.M. and reconvened at 10:00 A.M.
The Public Hearing was held for the proposed Lake Improvement District (LID) for Mink-Somers Lake. Asleson said that last Fall, the County Auditor received a petition from a number of residents in the Mink-Somers Lake area. Over time, the Auditor’s Office determined the proper number of property owners in the proposed LID District had signed the petition in favor of the establishment of an LID. Since then, the petition has been presented to the County Board and notice was provided to the DNR, MPCA and Township. Notice was also published in the newspaper and notice mailed to all property owners in the proposed District. The Public Hearing is required by Statute and allows residents/property owners to comment on whether they feel the establishment of an LID is a good idea. A DNR Advisory Report was provided and read into the record. Representatives from the DNR were present at the Public Hearing as well. Asleson said the intent is not for the County Board to take action today. The Statute calls for the item to be brought back no sooner than 10 days and no later than 30 days. A proposed order will be brought back if the Board establishes the development of an LID.
Brad Longtin is a Somers Lake property owner and an LID formation committee member. Longtin said the Lake Association has been working for the past 20 year with different departments and completed projects which benefited residents and non-residents. From the beginning, the formation committee tried to contact as many property owners and government personnel as possible to educate and inform them of the LID and its intent. Longtin referenced the LID manual given to the County containing information on the project and the support received. The pie chart reflects that 66% of property owners support the formation of an LID, 25% either did not respond or were not contacted, and 9% did not support the project.
Paul Dietrich, DNR Fisheries Manager, spoke on behalf of the DNR in support of the LID proposal. The problems of water quality on the Lakes has been well documented and will probably take more resources than the Lake Association can provide. The application reviews some of the problems with the land uses in the watershed and addresses possible remedies. Since 1994, there has been an effort with fish management in these Lakes. This has been successful but water quality has not been addressed.
Dan Hinrichs said he was the past Mink-Somers Lake Association President for about 20 years. He referenced comments by Dietrich on water quality and said that is one of the main things they want to do. The Association has taken a lot of steps. The SWCD has done a complete water mapping. They worked with the PCA years ago. A Lake Assessment program was completed. The documents provided in the manual demonstrate that the Association wants to do something. The Lake Association is made up of volunteers. The $25/year membership fee will not support what they would like to accomplish.
Dave Mielke, resident of Mink-Somers Lake for 23 years, said he has been involved extensively with the Lake Association. They have reached their limit on how far they can go on improving and providing a better Lake for all. He supported changing the orientation to create an LID to address larger projects that will improve the quality of the LID. He also referenced the pie chart reflecting those in support of the LID formation. He sought support from the Board.
Bob Jackelen, Russ Orson, Pat Hickey, Bill Wetzel, Renee Janunich, and Leslie Peterson spoke in support of the formation of the LID.
Kevin Smith said he has resided on the Lake since 1960. He referenced his property tax statement reflecting an initial tax rate of .046. Once the LID goes into effect, he questioned whether there would be any limit on the tax rate. Russek stated that the LID will have an elected Board Smith did not support allowing private citizens to tax property. Asleson said that one way to finance the LID is through a proposed ad valorem tax on property within the District. The tax rate will be set by the LID at their annual meeting. If the District is formed this year, the first opportunity to collect the tax would be in 2008. A person present for discussion said that the rate must be set at the annual meeting and be within County and State limits. Asleson said if the County Board establishes an LID, they would be the first Board of Directors as part of the order. At the first annual meeting of the LID, the residents would elect a new Board of Directors. He would have to consult Statutes to determine who would make the decision on how the LID is financed. Russek felt that decision would be delayed until the Board has been elected. Asleson said there will more work ahead if the LID is approved. The annual meeting is open to all property owners. A provision will have to be made for absentee voters to vote to elect the Board of Directors as well. Smith questioned what other lakes in the County have an LID and what has been the experience. The response was Charlotte, Indian, and Pulaski. Smith stated he was in favor of the project but had concerns with the tax rate.
Mattson requested that Paul Dietrich, DNR, check on the status of a House Bill that relates to funding appropriated to the DNR to assist with this type of project.
The Public Hearing was closed at 10:23 A.M. Asleson suggested that this issue be laid over to the 5-22-07 County Board Meeting for action. That would put the decision in the required 10-30 day timeline. This would allow him to meet with members of the organizing committee on a number of things in the proposed order including the size of the Board of Directors, the powers that would be granted to the LID, and methods of financing the LID. The item will be placed on the County Board Agenda for discussion, it will not be a continuation of the Public Hearing. Sawatzke questioned the proposed map area of the LID. Some portions are 100’ outside of the LID and other areas go back 1/4 mile and are still within the Lake. A person at the meeting responded that if the parcel touches the Lake, it is included. Some lots are only 80-100’ deep, others are 100 acres in size. It was his understanding that the property would be classified as ag. Brad Longtin said he talked with the Assessor’s Office and understood if someone subdivided a parcel, it would be taxed differently if it was not part of the riparian property. The criteria used for inclusion in the LID was whether it was riparian property. That is why the boundaries are not equally contoured. However, if someone was to subdivide a parcel, that parcel would remain in the LID even though it is not riparian. It would be similar to county or school boundaries. If lots are split, it does not absolve the property owner from the LID. They would probably have to request approval from the Board to be absolved from the LID. Sawatzke asked if there was a way to take a large parcel with one PID number and only assess a portion of the property. He referenced one parcel within the LID that includes a large tract along the Lake and wondered if that person would be penalized for keeping it in one large tract. Longtin said that studies throughout the country reflect higher property values when farmers subdivide land for more homes. Sawatzke questioned whether all property owners were notified, even if the properties did not include homes. Longtin responded that all PID and property owners were notified. Heeter moved to refer the Mink-Somers Lake LID to the 5-22-07 County Board Meeting at 9:15 A.M., second by Mattson. Heeter commended the group on the work expended thus far on this project. Russek agreed, saying this was attempted on Sugar Lake and failed due to lack of support. He said the group must have done a great job keeping people informed. The motion carried 5-0.
Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, brought forth a request to accept the findings and recommendations of the Planning Commission for denial of the proposed amendment to the Wright County Zoning Ordinance and to authorize signature of the Notice and Order of Denial: A Chance To Grow. On a 5/2 vote, the Planning Commission recommend denial of the request to amend the Wright County Zoning Ordinance to add Environmental Education Resource Center” as a conditional use in both the AG (General Agriculture, Section 604.4) and A/R (Agricultural-Residential, Section 603.4) Zoning District; and add definition of the use, “Environmental-Education Resource Center” and performance standards for the new use. Salkowski said the Planning Commission held public hearings on 2-08-07 and 3-22-07. After the 3-22-07 Hearing, the Planning Commission directed staff to draft the Findings and the Notice and Order of Denial. The Public Hearings closed on 3-22-07 and the Findings were adopted by the Planning Commission on 4-12-07. The recommendation from the Planning Commission is not to amend the Ordinance.
Heeter referenced the Findings of Fact and felt they were subjective. She appreciated the work completed by the Planning Commission and stated that the Findings were probably prepared by the County Attorney’s Office. Salkowski responded that Findings are supposed to be subjective, whether for approval or denial. The Findings advocate the cause. The Findings are based on record and discussion that occurred. If staff had been directed to draft Findings for approval of the request, the Findings would look quite different. Russek stated that one of the things the Planning Commission looked at was the offering of ag and farming applications at the proposed school. Russek stated that Wright County has two of the best ag schools in the State Howard Lake/Waverly and Dassel/Cokato.
Mark Crawford, Lake Maria State Park Manager, spoke in support of the Environmental Learning Center including outdoor education and protecting the environment, especially as this relates to the next generation. The next generation needs to develop a better understanding of the natural resources and there isn’t sufficient staff to always complete all they would like to do. He felt students respond when they are placed in an outdoor setting. The Environmental Learning Center would fill the role and compliment the Park’s resources. Besides protecting a large tract of land, the proposal would provide a good partnership with parks and local schools. Crawford encouraged support.
Dr. Christine Cooper, Monticello Clinic Pediatrician, lives in Silver Creek Township. She offered support of the proposed project. There are different facets to large projects and sometimes projects get wrapped up in details. To step back and look at the proposed project, she viewed it as an investment in the future. She felt that there are incredibly valuable resources in the Midwest and felt young people should be taught to be stewards of the land. Cooper supported the resource center as an unprecedented opportunity to create valuable assets for not only a small group of children but an extended community. Other schools will come to realize the resources of the County. The facility will also be used for teacher training groups and parks conservation groups. One of the large questions is whether it is okay to place a facility where there will not be public sewer and water. She felt this was a small facility. As a Pediatrician, Cooper said she not only takes care of medical needs but academic and personal needs as well. She is involved in the Stars Mental Health Project and was a co-founder of the Montessori School. Cooper felt that not all people learn in the same way and felt they learned better through a hands-on experience. The School will address water quality issues and global warming. This will prepare future generations to deal with these issues. Cooper grew up on a farm and is still involved with animals. She questioned who would continue in farming if children are not exposed. She said this an education that could not be obtained through the walls of traditional school districts. She encouraged the Board to place a lot of thought into this decision. This needs to be addressed as a society, not as a small group but a community at large.
Steve Nicklaus, Superintendent of ISD 876, Annandale Public Schools, read a statement urging the Board to accept the findings and recommendations of the Planning Commission and deny the proposed amendment to the Wright County Zoning Ordinance. He felt the amendment to construct a public high school in rural Wright County was clear. This amendment is an absolute contradiction to the Comprehensive Plan and will undermine the rural areas most wish to preserve. He said the citizens understand sound policies and procedures developed following extensive community input and consideration of the welfare of all County citizens, which is the basis of the Comprehensive Plan. Citizens accept decisions based on the Plan which are made consistently, based on consistent findings, and administered in a consistent manner. He felt approval of the amendment would send a confusing message to citizens. Wright County is a beautiful place to live and will remain so through consistent planning and orderly growth. If the proposed amendment is approved, others may follow opening the floodgate for development where land is relatively cheap (rural areas). Nicklaus said as Commissioners, it is their responsibility to preserve and protect the rural areas from invasions such as this. The amendment would be bad policy that would be accompanied by long-term consequences and can be avoided by accepting the Findings and Recommendations of the Planning Commission.
Mark Casey, Annandale City Administrator, summarized a letter sent to the Planning Commission on 3-16-07. The letter states in part that schools require much more than a piece of land. It is a web of urban amenities that truly support a school facility through proximity to complementary services and response times from emergency service providers. The letter further states that the City is aware of impacts of a school location in creating a demand for further urban development. They did not feel the County would be able to view the school in isolation for long. A new school would become the impetus for a newly formed urban node. This new level of activity would be directly at odds with the County’s land use policies for rural areas. The City joins the Annandale School District to urge the Board to reject the amendments.
Mary Barkley Brown serves on the Annandale School Board and felt there was some irony in having a Planning & Zoning Ordinance designed to protect rural environmentally sensitive areas and the proposal to build an Environmental Education Resource Center. As she travels on I-94, she is saddened by the sprawl. However, when exiting in Monticello she experiences more of a rural feel. If a high school is constructed on Hwy. 39, that feeling may change due to the surrounding pressures a high school will bring. Brown lives near the site and was previously rejected for homeowners insurance as she resides too far from the fire department. She has since been accepted but her neighbor is experiencing the same thing. She supports the Planning & Zoning findings.
Mandy Reitmeyer, Monticello, has heard the DeBoers speak and feels the proposal would be a wonderful asset for the County. She is a mother of three and said children learn in different ways, some needing to interact with things to learn. This school could provide that. She was unsure if all her children would attend but would like this option along with the other options offered (home school, traditional public school, charter school). She believes the concerns on sewer and septic could be addressed. The system could be engineered and monitored. She appreciated consideration on this amendment and was thankful for possibly having this option. She hoped the Board could make it a possibility.
Joyce Mayer, Monticello Township, urged the Board to vote in support of the Environmental Learning Center. Mayer grew up on a dairy farm with hands-on experience. She and her husband have continued this with their children. She cited the FFA programs but was unsure if this was enough. This would be a place for both young and old to learn. This would also be a great place to preserve the land and use Maria State Park. She urged support while looking at the future of the children.
Bryon Martin, Monticello, said he has been a resident of Wright County since he was 7 years old. He is a graduate of Chemistry, English and Science. He has three children, two of which are in the Montessori School System. He said when the entire system is looked at, sometimes zoning does not always determine the best use. This would be a great opportunity to expand the current system and make it better. He supported the proposed school.
Eric Miller, Buffalo, felt it was poor public policy to limit people’s choices. He felt as many choices should be offered as available. He said this is not a box factory and the school would not pollute the environment, it would provide $20 million in economic development. Miller wanted more options and the opportunity for his children to go to this school.
Dr. Ziegler, St. Michael-Albertville Superintendent of Schools, said when they were dealing with growth and looking for a new parcel to build two buildings, they found resistance from the County when they were trying to find less expensive land. She found it ironic that they were presented with road blocks (investment in new road, didn’t want the school to access CR 18). She said different standards were being applied. St. Michael-Albertville does not have FFA but does have a huge environmental curriculum. They have set aside land in their plan to use with the new High School (30 acres of woods & water to provide an environmental education) in addition to the City working on the Big Woods. Ziegler felt there are choices out there, and cautioned on too high of standards. There are compliance requirements for safety, fire and police that must be met.
Russek stated that the Planning Commission’s job is planning, not education. If environmental learning is so important, why isn’t it a State mandate. Every school could include this in their curriculum. This is one of the reasons why it failed in the Planning Commission.
Mark Redemske, Maple Lake Superintendent of Schools, said he grew up with beef cattle and is familiar with agriculture. He owns property two hours north which is used for improving the wildlife habitat. He referenced a letter dated 4-30-07 that he and Greg Mooney, Maple Lake School Board Chair, sent to Planning and Zoning outlining their concerns on the educational consequences of amending the Ordinance. One concern was the redistribution of existing revenue from area school districts to the new school, necessitating budget adjustments. This would result in fewer programs and opportunities for students while displacing teachers who need to relocate to secure jobs in their chosen fields. Respectfully, he disagreed with the DeBoers on what is good for the kids. He did not feel it was an educational debate. Redemske felt the issue at hand dealt with the appropriate use of land. Schools are not afraid of competition and work both with and against one another. This issue relates to whether or not a school should be placed in a rural area. He posed the scenario of placing a factory in the same location that would house 200 workers and asked whether this discussion would be occurring. If the answer was yes, he felt the school’s request should be approved. If the answer was no, then the County needs to preserve the environment whether the request is from a factory or a school. He agreed with a statement made by Mary Barkley-Brown about the irony of a group wanting to teach the positive message of being good stewards with agriculture and the environment, and then turning around and erecting brick/mortar to teach that message.
George Ladd, Howard Lake-Waverly Superintendent of Schools, said his concern was the Comprehensive Plan and what their School recently went through during construction. He said all schools should be treated the same, if something applies to one it should apply to all of them. Ladd said the State, City, Township and County would not allow their School to build out that far. They would have purchased land at half the expense if they built four miles out of town. Fire protection, wetland delineation, water flow, and roads must be addressed. Howard Lake-Waverly Schools was required to set standards for holding ponds so the water retention rate was slower than when the land was a forest, not farmland. Ladd said they are not afraid of competition. It costs the taxpayers $1-2 million to construct the School next to the City. The School had to include fire sprinklers. He asked that this request be placed under the same Policy or Comprehensive Plan. Ladd felt Howard Lake-Waverly should have been given the same options. Ladd said Howard Lake-Waverly Schools have been State and National Competition winners in agriculture. They have placed a 16-acre farm plot on their land and have an outdoor biology lab. They are doing some of the same things as proposed. Their students have these options. Ladd referenced the Howard-Lake Waverly School construction project and the hearings he was required to attend through the County, City and Township. The City had to swap land to save farmland due to annexation. He asked if that type of thing was happening. He asked that all things be considered.
Russek referenced the proposed school and inquired who would be taking care of the cows that will be on site. Would the students attend school year round instead of nine months. There are many things the Planning Commission considered prior to making their motion for denial.
Michelle Twardy, Monticello Township, was thankful that there are other counties that allow schools in the rural areas. She felt Wright County needed to be on the leading edge of what is allowed and not allowed. She said this project is no easy task, that $20 million in funding will need to be raised. This would not be from taxpayer dollars but from private entities. Twardy was one of the founders of the Charter School located in Monticello. The number of volunteer hours involved was unheard of. Other school boards are paid for wanting schools to be a great place. She noted that those speaking against the proposed school are all school board members. She understood their concerns but felt they needed to leave a legacy to the children. She felt this type of school would not be erected all over and that most would not have the passion of the DeBoer’s. Twardy asked that the Board be cautious when deciding as she did not feel that very many similar requests would occur.
Jeff Bauer, Dassel-Cokato School Superintendent, said he supported the comments made by Superintendent Nicklaus. Bauer said Wright County has strong school systems, special education programs including MAWSECO (Meeker & Wright Special Education Cooperative) which are well led. He also agreed with the reference to the strong FFA program. Being located in the southwestern corner of the County, they are very much agricultural based and many times, people don’t understand what they do. Bauer felt Charter schools offered good things. The Dassel-Cokato School System offers strong environmental, hands-on, and agricultural based programs. These programs are available but possibly people are not aware of them.
Jim Lindberg was a past Monticello High School Counselor (31 years). He then ran for the School Board and was elected. He has been a Silver Creek resident for 35 years. Lindberg said he was “straddling the fence” on the issue. When he moved to the area, he planted trees and created a wildlife habitat. Looking to the East, the view is the power plant. He is bothered by the polarization which has occurred in America since the 1990’s, from politics on down. He favored people working together cooperatively. While on the School Board, he was the Wright Technical School Chair. About 28 years ago, the schools in Wright County came together and formed the Technical School. This is a hands-on environment for students in carpentry, mechanical and environmental areas. He questioned why those involved couldn’t come together on this issue. Lindberg wanted the record to reflect that he is not opposed to Charter schools but is opposed to the number of them. The Legislature placed a cap on the number of Charter schools allowed, and Lindberg felt this had been passed. The more Charter schools, the more fractioned things become. He supported a collaborative effort. The bottom line is the students. He felt choices and competition were great but there must be an even playing ground and the responsibility that goes with it.
John Jones, Silver Creek Township Chair, said he respects educational counterparts as he spent 16 years in education. This issue relates to the Land Use Plan. He referenced places like Isabella. It makes a difference in the student being able to be outdoors. He referenced comments made by the St. Michael-Albertville Superintendent where an environmental center was created outside. Jones did not feel that was the same as running through the woods, especially the woods in the area near the proposed school. That property is pristine with sightings of the Blandon turtle and beaver. He felt this was a unique property. With regard to the concerns voiced on the protections of the students, Jones said in his profession with the State of Minnesota he passed the Bar None Ranch in Anoka and Isanti Boys Ranch. He estimated there are 15-25 students working with horses at these locations. Jones voiced appreciation of the great agricultural programs at the high schools. The proposal would be a supplement type of agriculture, more like an environmental resource area (such as Isabella and Wolf Ridge). Due to the time, effort and financial constraints involved, he did not feel this type of request would occur often. Jones said the DeBoers’ plan is to include staff and teacher training. He thought the County was on the cutting edge to move forward on Charter schools. He did not want a situation of being entrenched in the 1988 Land Use Plan, that there has to be a little room for improvement. Jones felt this should be a cooperative effort between entities instead of just a yes/no vote on the Ordinance.
Bob DeBoer appreciated the consideration the Planning Commission and County Board have given to this request. He provided a history of their request. DeBoer’s two grandfathers and father purchased the land which has been identified for the site. As they worked with different groups, there were reasons seen why a school on the property would be a good use of the land. They got together with Planning & Zoning and the result was a proposed amendment which would allow the school to happen but with the guarantee that preservation of the land and resources would be consistent with the Land Use Plan established in 1988. Specific criteria were identified. DeBoer said it was not spot zoning but the amendment would detail certain conditions to assure that the County would not be run over by developers. The land has a 120-year old pristine forest which would be wiped out if the property were mined for gravel. The land also runs along the planned green corridor plan the Parks has identified. DeBoer said they plan to preserve the land, which has been an abandoned gravel pit for 20 years. The pit would be reclaimed for the structure and the creek, forest, rolling hills, and remainder of acreage would be maintained. He felt they would meet the intent of the Land Use Plan through reclamation. About 15 more acres of ag land would be available to the County. If the amendment passed, DeBoer said the request would move to the planning process. They would be required to meet all County and State regulations. They have not started this process in Wright County, and the first step is to amend the Ordinance through Planning & Zoning. The plan is more than a Charter school. He referenced the District’s concern with loss of revenue. They currently collaborate with 90 schools in Minnesota. They viewed the Center as a place to collaborate with Maria State Park, the Parks System, 4-H, and as an extension of agriculture. It would be a resource for the County but preserve and protect the natural resources. He understood the intent of the Ordinance but hoped it could be changed. His suggestion to Planning & Zoning was to make it more restrictive as they are committed to the preservation of resources. The land would be placed into trust so it is not developed ever for retail, gravel pits, or housing developments. DeBoer hoped there would be a way to make this happen.
Heeter said she did not feel the amendment changed the goals and policies of the County. She felt she could respond to each of the findings. They are subjective and meant to be that way. In many of the situations, she felt they were weak. From a Planning & Zoning perspective, she felt that managing wastewater for 250 people on a daily basis could be done. This is being accomplished at camps in Wright County and seven other schools in the State are on septic systems. Some have numbers that are double or quadruple of what is being proposed. Heeter respected the perspective of the schools and believes in public education and having cohesiveness, but feels the concerns relate to money and the “cream of the crop.” She felt the request is consistent with policies and the Land Use Plan, reclaiming a gravel pit and placing a forest in a land trust. Heeter resides almost across the street from the property. Heeter said of the calls received on the proposal, those against are from school personnel or school board members. The only other person who voiced objection was a person in the proposed area that is a retired school custodian. The remainder of calls received were in favor of the proposal. With regard to agriculture, Heeter said more education is needed in the areas of row cropping and herd management. She did reference the Howard Lake-Waverly programs and said they were second to none in the State. Heeter thought that hands-on studying with the land and animals on a regular basis would provide more appreciation for nature. This proposal would provide another opportunity for Wright County to be a leader. Support for the proposal has been received by the Township Board (unanimous), 4-H, gardening, livestock, and local and State parks. Heeter said the bottom line is the children. They cannot fall in love with animals or nature by reading about it. The County deals with their philosophy about land use every day, from 1 per 40 to preserving ag and open space. We are appreciative of where we live and Heeter said it is important to teach this so that future generations can have the same opportunity. In closing, Heeter did not support the denial. She supported amending the Ordinance and would vote in that fashion. The bottom line is that it is a land use issue but she felt the requested use was appropriate for this piece of property. As it is a high school, she did not feel there would be a large influx of homes. She favored supporting to amend the Ordinance to support this request.
Mattson said he listened to the comments made today. He recalled the several times Superintendent George Ladd was required to come to the Board Meeting to discuss the Howard Lake-Waverly School project. With the request being considered today, nothing was being said. Mattson said he would not move forward to change the system. He felt the County would be going against their policy to move in a different direction. He commended Superintendent Ladd for bringing their situation forth, as he had forgotten about that situation. Mattson said he wasn’t supporting the school proposal in the first place. The District he represents covers a very rural portion of Wright County and people do not have to worry about not seeing animals. He referenced Heeter’s comment about children not being able to enjoy animals through reading. Mattson said his grandchildren are very avid readers and love animals. They have many animals around their place. Heeter responded that the key is that Mattson has animals for the children to enjoy.
Sawatzke said both Heeter and Mattson brought forth good points and rationale. With regard to the Howard Lake-Waverly School project, he felt that was a different scenario because of the County ditch involved. In that situation, Statute requires the County Board to be involved and a different set of criteria is used. Having said that, Sawatzke doubted they would have allowed Howard Lake-Waverly School to build in the country if the land were not annexed. However, he felt they were two different facilities (1000 students vs. 200 students). If the request was for a school the size of others in the public system, it would be viewed differently. If this amendment does pass, other school systems could build a school in the township provided they meet the criteria placed by the Board. He saw merit in the request and thought the DeBoers were sincere in what they hoped to accomplish. He referenced inequities in the public school arena which can create inequities in competition. Things he has heard about Charter schools is that they operate on a different playing field. Due to that, he saw the concern of the public school officials. However, he felt that needed to be solved at the State level.
Sawatzke asked to focus on the criteria of the Ordinance. His concern was if the school were built and at some point it didn’t become what it was supposed to have been. What assurances are there that this would be an Environmental Education Center? What assurances were there that in 10 years they would still be teaching about the environment? He believed that the founders believe in their goal but things can change when those individuals leave. One of the Findings of Fact relates to the concern of the school failing and reflects that “In such a case, there will be a physical plant located in an unincorporated, rural area. There will undoubtedly be an argument that it should be used for another school or some other function. It would be difficult to turn away such pressures.” Sawatzke felt DeBoer may be agreeable to put in requirements that if the school doesn’t exist, either the building would be taken down or the property would be turned over to the township, school district, or Lake Maria State Park.
Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, felt this may be a legal question. He did not feel it would work to require the buildings to be removed or that it could be required through the Zoning Ordinance to take a person’s property rights away. Tom Zins, Attorney’s Office, said it is a theoretical problem. The Ordinance is created to allow things to happen. If Sawatzke was talking about imposing conditions, the law says that only reasonable conditions can be imposed. If a multi-million dollar facility fails to fit within the criteria of the Ordinance (i.e., environmental high school), then the County cannot make them give the property to another owner or forfeit. The amendment would allow for the environmental high school to be constructed. How to control the curriculum in the future would be a practical problem. If the property was abandoned, the pressure would be to place something in to utilize the property in some fashion. Zins said the last several items in the Findings of Fact are related to this issue.
Sawatzke questioned how many Charter schools have succeeded. DeBoer said there are currently 134 Charter schools. Of those Charter schools that started in 1991, around 20 have closed as there has not been enough interest from students for various reasons. Closing of the schools happened more in the beginning than now. The last five years, the State has been more rigorous on training and fiscal monitoring. DeBoer said with regard to their commitment to the mission, this is the second Jane Goodall School in the Nation. There is a certain collaborative and relationships there that ensure the continuation of preserving environmental resources. With regard to the issue of dissolution, DeBoer felt it may be difficult to outline this in the Ordinance. However, it could be developed into the conditional use permit or a development agreement, whether with Wright County or Silver Creek Township.
The meeting recessed at 11:46 A.M. and reconvened at 12:00 P.M.
Michelle Twardy addressed the concern on whether the school failed. The Monticello City Council had the same concern when the Charter school was put in Monticello. If the school fails, it goes to the City of Monticello. There is a way to incorporate this into some sort of agreement. Russek questioned what would happen if the school failed and the State took it over. The State could elect to keep it as an environmental school and send troubled youth to attend. He questioned who would be in favor of this. There are no guarantees to anything. Twardy said you can’t choose who is put in a school. Russek stated that if the State owned the building, they can use it how they wish. Twardy responded that the State would not own the building, the non-profit organization would own the building. Sawatzke said the difference with the Charter school in Monticello is the City owns the property. Twardy said the City does not own the property. Sawatzke said their was City funding involved and that was a whole different set of facts. Sawatzke then posed a question to John Jones, Silver Creek Township. In the near future, the County will study the northwest part of the County with regard to the Land Use Plan. As schools tend to attract housing, Sawatzke asked whether this school request would impact the density request by Silver Creek Township. Jones did not see it affecting their request. The Township Board and residents are committed to open spaces and the 1 per 40 regulation. The current request provides an ag/residential opportunity to develop. Jones confirmed that the existence of this school would not be an argument by the Town Board that there should be residential development in this area.
Sawatzke said the Ordinance would allow for a school. It would allow in addition “a maximum daily student enrollment of 200 and an emphasis on relating sound environmental practices to the agricultural traditions and practices of the surrounding area, which may also provide additional teacher training and clinical services in support of its educational goals…” Sawatzke felt that without the request for a school, buildings for training and clinical services would not be allowed. Salkowski said without the amendment, they would not allow teacher training or a clinic in that zoning; to do so would require an amendment of the Ordinance. Sawatzke asked if the amendment passed, could a facility be built that only did training and teacher services but was not a school. Salkowski said the definition of an Environmental Education Center includes those things. It is defined as a facility to provide public education for grades 7-12. It was his understanding that they could not use the definition to come forward later for the purpose of building for training and teacher services unless it was part of the school.
Sawatzke said the whole concept of the school and the reason for the Ordinance amendment is that there is an advantage to teaching environment in the environment. Sawatzke asked whether there was an advantage to teaching teachers how to teach autistic children in this setting, as well as clinical services. He was unsure whether these things were part of a school or something separate and different. He did not feel these items would be discussed if they were not part of the school. Salkowski said the difficulty is amending the Ordinance to suit a specific request. The site was purchased for a plan they had in mind. The amendment includes all things listed in the definition of the Environmental Education Resource Center. Salkowski did not feel he was qualified to determine whether teacher training should be part of the school and whether they were talking in terms of a conference center, where teachers come from all over the State. The amendment is written for “A Chance To Grow, Inc.” with a plan that includes other items. Sawatzke said he interpreted that teachers from other schools would be brought in to train on how to teach autistic children. DeBoer said that there will be clinical services. There will be a teacher training center funded by the State and will include a 4-day workshop to include 90 different schools across the State. Their concept is that if they are teaching about nature they should be in nature. Clinical services provided will include speech and occupational therapy as well as an outpatient clinic. Sawatzke did not think speech therapy needed to be done in a nature setting. In response to Sawatzke on the number of students proposed for the school, DeBoer said the budget reflects 160 students.
Eichelberg was unsure of his position at this time and described it as “in the middle.” He questioned whether the applicant could come back at a future date with their request if it were denied. Salkowski said he was unsure if there was a limit on rezoning requests but felt it may be defined as one year in the Ordinance. As far as an amendment to the Ordinance, he did not know of anything that would prevent a person from bringing their request forth every month, other than common sense. Eichelberg favored Lindberg’s suggestion of working together and potentially bringing something forth in the future that all would have agreed upon. Heeter asked Eichelberg whether he felt it was okay to amend the Land Use Plan for reasons other than pressure from the schools. Eichelberg felt the idea and concept were good but there may be other choices or ideas. He was unsure whether all questions were answered dealing with land use.
Salkowski explained that all cities, townships and school boards received notice of the hearings. He said that references to the Land Use Plan, the Zoning Ordinance and dates were all being mixed together during today’s discussion. As a point of clarification, the Land Use Plan should be used as a policy guide as it does not include specific rules and directions. They are not talking about amending the Land Use Plan today. The date of 1988 was cited which implies that the County is behind the times. Salkowski made it clear that the Land Use Plan for the complete County was adopted in 1988 and has been amended for several townships many times; it has been reviewed by different townships and it was decided that it was a good plan many times since 1988; and in 1998, the County Board commissioned a consultant to conduct a series of public hearings around the County. This resulted in the affirmation of goals and policies of the Land Use Plan. During today’s discussion, there were questions about the Zoning Ordinance. To be specific, the Zoning Ordinance does not allow schools of any kind except within a half mile of the City limits in an R1 district. It was not possible at this location because of the distance from town to consider rezoning the property to R1. No matter what is being proposed in an areas designated as ag and rural in the Land Use Plan, they will not designate R1 in a Residential district. The only alternative was to amend the Zoning Ordinance to change the rules. The issues are always tough when the request is what most people deem as a good project. Salkowski said rules are consulted with the placement of any facility. This was the primary complaint received from the Howard Lake-Waverly School District. Other private schools approached the County on rules relating to school placement. They were told that they must be within 1/2 mile of the City in an R1 zone due to fire safety, etc. All schools are within city limits or have been annexed into the city. His concern was that this was a level playing field. He admired the goals of the project but his job was charged to inform them that the rules don’t allow for the request. When rules are changed, it is not done lightly. It is something that he didn’t feel the Planning Commission nor the Board was taking lightly. He wanted to clarify that this amendment is not about the Land Use Plan but about the Zoning Ordinance (when, how, and for whom changes are made to the Zoning Ordinance and what conditions are placed).
Sawatzke referenced the Zoning Ordinance and a comment made by Mattson that it was broad. If someone wanted to build a barn this size for cows, there is a 40-page Ordinance of compliance issues. Sawatzke said he was not in opposition to the request but had concern that all bases were being covered in the 1.5 pages of the document. Salkowski said that in theory, they don’t make changes to the Zoning Ordinance to satisfy one group or person. However, practice and theory don’t always work out. In meetings held between Planning & Zoning and the DeBoers, they discussed putting in requirements to make sure only one of these facilities is built. The down side is that the rules are being changed to suit one applicant. Heeter inquired whether this had been done for retreat centers. Salkowski said it had, but they are very low density (1 per 40 residence). They have gone out of their way to make sure the rules are applicable across the County. There have been amendments for Bed and Breakfasts. That amendment was written in such a way that there have been around six since. The Retreat Center Ordinance is a good example as it was proposed by one individual and has not been followed up on. They are trying to meet the fine line between changing the rules for one group or changing the rules to apply County wide. This is very difficult. Salkowski said he was in support of the Planning Commission’s recommendation as that was his job. He did not know of anyone that wanted to make this a debate about public schools or charter schools. This issue has been and should be about land use. No matter what is decided, they will move on. He thought what bothered most Planning Commission members who voted against this was a combination of things that is described as a level playing field, applying a set of rules used for a long time to a situation where someone came up with a good idea. There may have been environmentally suitable locations next to towns that may have met the Ordinance requirements; however that land may have been more expensive.
Sawatzke questioned the percentage of developed land area, identified as 50% in the request (40 acres of the 80 acres). Salkowski said that no more than 15% of land can be covered with hard surfaces and 25% for buildings. The sewer system would take up a significant portion of the land and that is not counted as hard surface. He was unsure how 50% was settled upon but it is part of the proposal. The indication of undeveloped means not touched at all. Sawatzke said he felt a farm field or pasture would be undeveloped. Salkowski said cutting down trees to put in a farm field would be deemed as developed. Sawatzke felt the 50% number should be 80-90%. DeBoer recalled that that figure was derived in December when they were trying to add conditions or criteria to ensure that the land was not used for development.
Sawatzke asked whether there was a way to draft an Ordinance that would provide for a negotiation process similar to what they have in ag/residential areas with PUD’s (an applicant can get 6 per 40 only after some type of negotiations with the Planning Commission with a benefit of two more lots). That PUD scenario could be created with the school whereby they would have to prove what they are saying, what they are providing (education, benefits, etc.). Salkowski said this will be a CUP if the Ordinance is amended. The school would be required to go back to the Planning Commission and apply for a CUP. The Planning Commission has a fair amount of leeway on CUP conditions which may address some of those issues. That is why there is not that level of detail in the Ordinance. They could write the Ordinance in any way they would like in terms of treating it like a PUD. At some point, however, it may result in constitutional questions of equal protections. They could have written the Ordinance amendment in a number of ways. They worked with the applicants and advised them as to the best way to justify the amendment to fit into the Ag district. Sawatzke felt a PUD may give more ability to ensure and place conditions and referred to DeBoer placing the land in a public land trust, guaranteeing no housing developments, etc. Salkowski said a CUP would be a similar process but it doesn’t come before the County Board. The decision is made by the Planning Commission. The problem with PUD’s is that if they require 80% open space from one applicant and a different amount from another, they can run into problems. It is a balancing act between making an amendment to suit one group and an amendment to work County-wide.
Mattson said he has been on the County Board for 15 years. He could recall one time voting opposite the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission expended a lot of time on this item with a recommendation to deny the request. Now the County Board has discussed it for 1.5 hours. The amendment application is unclear as to what the land will be used for. The Planning Commission provided their recommendation for denial and Mattson said he would support that. Heeter said many of the issues would be addressed during the CUP process.
Heeter offered a motion to not accept the recommendation from the Planning Commission for denial and the motion would be to amend the Ordinance to allow the facility. The motion failed for a lack of a second. Sawatzke said he would have seconded the motion except that in so much as he feels there is room for the proposal in the Ordinance, he feels the Ordinance is lacking in how it addresses the proposal. There in lies his concern and problem. He does not see how the County can sufficiently address issues of schools in the country in 1.5 pages of documentation. When someone builds a barn, there are 40-50 pages of criteria. There are many assurances that he felt the applicant was willing to give that are not in the Ordinance. He felt there was a better way of obtaining these assurances and requiring them of those in the future as well.
Mattson moved to adopt the Findings and the recommendation of the Planning Commission for denial of the proposed amendment to the Wright County Zoning Ordinance and to authorize signature of the Notice and Order of Denial: A Chance To Grow. On a 5/2 vote, the Planning Commission recommend denial of the request to amend the Wright County Zoning Ordinance to add Environmental Education Resource Center” as a conditional use in both the AG (General Agriculture, Section 604.4) and A/R (Agricultural-Residential, Section 603.4) Zoning District; and add definition of the use, “Environmental-Education Resource Center” and performance standards for the new use. Eichelberg seconded the motion for further discussion. Eichelberg felt there needed to be more discussion on this topic and concurred with Sawatzke that something was lacking in the proposed Amendment (more clarity needed on what could happen). For that reason, he would offer the suggestion to come back again for more discussion on those opposing and those that are not. He felt Jim Lindberg offered good suggestions relating to operating with all school districts in the County. Sawatzke did not feel the applicant was lacking and that they had been clear and precise on the use. He did believe the amendments were lacking. This was not the Planning & Zoning Department’s fault. They are defending the position of the Planning Commission. He said they were not there to debate that position. He was not suggesting that the concept was worthy and that the Planning Commission was wrong. It was difficult for him to support the request as the Planning Commission had concerns. He did not want to give the misperception that the applicant was unclear in what they wanted. Sawatzke felt the Ordinance was lacking. The motion carried 3-2 with Heeter and Sawatzke casting the nay votes.
The meeting recessed at 12:44 P.M. and reconvened at 2:00 P.M. for the Bid Opening for Bid Package #1, Jail/Law Enforcement Center Project. Tara Martin, Adolphson & Peterson (A&P) Project Manager, opened and read the bids. Also present were Randy Lindemann from KKE Architects and Rick Streich (Site Superintendent) and Bill Blotzke (Estimator) from A&P. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, referenced Addendum #2 that sites a possible 4-6 week delay and questioned what that would do for the overall schedule. He inquired whether the project would be pushed out. Streich said as of now, it would not. Sawatzke asked what could affect this. Martin explained that it would depend on the capacity of soil correction. Norman referenced Addendum #2 that spoke of an elevation change and asked what precipitated that. Lindemann stated that the 4-6 week delay (relating to the first question) has to do with the depth of the soil correction. If there are pockets of soils that have to be removed to a depth of 10’ or greater, they would anticipate a delay. With regard to the change in elevation (8’ higher than originally planned), Russek asked who made the decision to change the elevation. Lindemann said he was unsure what happened. Norman said this is addressed in a letter from Braun Intertech to Cliff Buikema. Sawatzke asked whether a representative from A&P could address the addendum. Martin commented that she had not seen that. Russek voiced frustration with A&P, stating there had not been one recommendation from them and yet there is a bill awaiting approval for over $200,000.
Russek instructed Martin to take the bill back to A&P and tell them more documentation is required. The plans should be reviewed as they do not even know what the addendum is. Russek said someone made the decision to raise the elevation 8’. Lindemann said the original elevation that Braun Intertech refers to was at the beginning of Schematic Design. At that time the cutoff was 7’. Over the course of the Schematic Design and Design Development Phases, the elevation was set working backward from the outlet invert. This is referring not to the design number but to the proposed number early on in the process. What is being talked about in the addendum is the corrective soils to a depth greater than 10’. The 7-8’ is a phantom number that KKE and the consultants were working with early on. The change referred to is back at the time of the proposal when they were seeking input on the soils.
Martin opened and read the bids:
Bid Category 2A - Earthwork
Acknowledge Acknowledge Total
Bidder; Bid Security; Addendum 1; Addendum 2; Base Bid
Doboszenski & Sons, Inc.; X; X; X; $529,900.00
Dennis Fen; X; X; X; $493,813.00
Julian M. Johnson; X; X; X; $375,000.00
Veit and Company; X; X; X; $433,828.00
Visser Scrapper Service; X; X; X; $420,000.00
Motzao Companys; X; X; X ;$463,318.00
Landwehr Construction; X; X; X; $518,652.00
Northwest Asphalt; X; No; No; $578,000.00
Rachel Contracting; X; X; X; $395,771.00
Bid Category 2B - Site Utilities
Bidder; Bid Security; Aknowledge Addendum 1; Acknowledge Addendum 2; Total Base Bid
Nova Frost, Inc.; X; X; X; $317,800.00
Penn Contracting; X; X; X; $341,500.00
St. Paul Utilities; X; X; X; $348,800.00
Doboszenski & Sons; X; X; X; $389,300.00
Annandale Contracting; X; X; X; $314,760.00
Julian M. Johnson; X; X; X; $370,000.00
Motzoa Company; X; X; X; $376,358.00
Veit and Company; X; X; X; $397,800.00
Landwehr; X; X; X; $457,985.00
Visser Scrapper; X; X; X; $375,000.00
Bid Category 2A & 2B - Earthwork/Site Utilities
Bidder; Bid Security; Acknowledge Addendum 1; Acknowledge Addendum 2; Total Base Bid
Landwehr; X; X; X; $928,992.00
Motzoa; No; X; X; $815,000.00
Veit and Company; X; X; X; $831,628.00
Visser; X; X; X; $783,002.00
Bid Category 23A - Geo Well Field
ESTIMATE: $400,000 Wells & $1.4 Million Geo-Thermal
Bidder; Bid Security; Acknowledge Addendum 1; Acknowledge Addendum 2; Total Base Bid
Saathoff; X; X; X; $1,232,500.00
Bergerson; X; X; X; $1,460,000.00
Discussion led to the Geo-Thermal bids and whether the County is interested in proceeding with Geo-Thermal if the bids are off by three fold from the estimate. Sawatzke noted a 24 year payback in this scenario. Martin felt A&P’s assumption was it is just for the well field and materials. Martin said they will be able to provide a recommendation to the County by 5-03-07. Sawatzke asked what would happen to the project if the economics of Geo-Thermal do not work. Lindemann said he would need to qualify the bids. A fall back plan may need to be implemented but Lindemann was not anticipating these cost variances. If Geo-Thermal is not used, conventional gas pipe would be used. Russek said the County would like to proceed with Geo-Thermal because of environmental reasons. But with the payback period, it may not make sense to proceed this way. Norman suggested that in the interim, KKE Architects should look at the situation in terms of possibly going back to the original plan (not using Geo-Thermal) and what it would take in design and cost estimates to go with that original system. Norman questioned if the County were to proceed with the original system, would it impact this first bid phase that deals with earth work. Martin said it would add additional equipment for a conventional system and a redesign of the pumps. Lindemann said it would involve a complete redesign of the mechanicals. He said he would be unable to provide answers today but understood loud and clear that a fall back plan was needed. Russek suggested that the bids opened today would be awarded at the next Board Meeting on 5-08-07. Martin said she would also provide a site survey recommendation and information on testing agency proposals at the same time. Sawatzke moved to lay the bids over for one week, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 3-0 (Heeter and Mattson absent).
Advantage Water Cond.. $230.00
Albertville Body Shop, Inc. 1,835.27
City Annandale 100.00
Anoka Co. Juvenile Ctr. 169.00
APEC Industrial Sales/Serv. 485.13
Aramark Correct. Services 11,033.90
Arrowwood Resort 1,093.50
Assn. of Training Ofcrs. MN 400.00
B & B Products-Rigs/Squa 13,749.15
Batteries Plus 106.98
Buff ‘N’ Glo Inc. 182.00
Collins Bros. Towing 154.43
Franklin Denn 411.41
Randal Desmarais 194.48
Elk River Ford 25,670.70
Debbie Ernst 209.52
Excel Systems LLC 631.00
Annette Habisch-Peterson 305.97
City Hanover 139,705.77
Hillyard Floor Care Supply 1,541.36
Chris Jahnke 267.72
Tracy Janikula 172.03
Kustom Signals Inc. 387.28
Lab Safety Supply Inc. 243.84
Law Enforcement Tech. Grp. 367.16
Marco Inc. 5,303.81
The Metro Group Inc. 7,546.59
Mid-America Business Sys. 190.26
MN Assn. of Co. Probation 1,040.00
MN Safety Council 430.00
MN State Bar Assoc. 195.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 117.15
City Montrose 240,627.30
Morrell Towing Inc. 141.11
Nextel Communications 2,464.44
Office Depot 1,491.50
Pacific Bancnote Co. 1,370.00
Ridgeview Medical Ctr. 1,101.30
RS Eden 812.70
Ryan Chevrolet 753.07
Sherburne Co. Sheriff 16,361.04
M Smith Publishers 554.00
Software House Int’l 4,470.88
Specialty Turf & Ag 673.61
Spectrum Solutions 3,500.00
St. Michael Vet Clinic 346.37
Brian Stoll 237.16
Total Printing 243.19
Verizon Wireless 408.14
Walmart Store 01-1577 722.85
Wright Co. Hwy. Dept. 609.08
21 Payments less than $100 1,115.18
Final total $494,695.07
The meeting adjourned at 2:25 P.M
Published in the Herald Journal May 28, 2007.