Wright County Board Minutes

JANUARY 29, 2008
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Heeter, Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek and Eichelberg present.
The minutes of 1-22-08 were corrected as follows: Page 8, 2nd to last paragraph, 5th line, sentence should read, “Carver County has also been in contact with Bill Stephens, Wright County Environmental Health Officer, and expressed interest.” (Russek). Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Heeter, carried unanimously.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows under Items For Consid.: #5, “Meeting With Randy’s Sanitation” (Russek); #6, “Greater MN Health Care Coalition” (Heeter). Heeter moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Russek moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Heeter. Heeter referenced Consent A4, “Claim, Willen, Inc. $6,332.50” and said Willen, Inc. is the Commissioning Agent for the Jail/LEC project. There was debate on whether a Commissioning Agent was warranted but she was pleased with how the arrangement has worked out. In response to Mattson, Heeter said the Commissioning Agent was contracted on a not-to-exceed basis. The exact figure could not be recalled but projected at just over $100,000. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, suggested that the Auditor/Treasurer provide information on what has been expended versus the contract amount. The motion to approve the Consent Agenda carried unanimously:
1. Performance Appraisals: T. Fedor, Parks; K. Hoyne, G. Nordquist, M. Pacelli, B. Petersen, T. Pippo, M. Rhodes, M. Silbernagel, P. Standafer, C. Thompson, J. Winkelman, Sher./Corr.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 1-11-08.
3. Claim, KKE Architects, $42,556.43.
4. Claim, Willen, Inc., $6,332.50.
1. 2008 Tobacco License Renewals: Albertville Mobil (Albertville City); Cokato Marketplace (Cokato City); Corner Bar, Thrifty White Drug #743 (St. Michael City).
1. Parks Department 2007 Year End Report.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. Russek referenced claims on pages 6 and 7 to Mobile Vision ($7,860 each). Both claims reference the same invoice number and Russek wanted confirmation that the bill wasn’t being paid twice. Hiivala said the payment is being made from two funding sources (the grant and the Sheriff Department) and shows in separate areas of the claims listing. Mattson noted that there were not many claims from the Sheriff Department this week so there may be more next week. Russek said the Highway claims were short as well. On a motion by Mattson, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 1-23-08. At today’s County Board Meeting, Mattson moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0:
REQUEST TO ADD TWO ADDITIONAL ACCESS GATES TO THE IMPOUND AREA AT THE COUNTY SHOPS (SHERIFF DEPARTMENT). Brian Jans, Shop Maintenance Supervisor, handed out a color aerial photocopy of the impound area at the County Shops that was taken in 2005 (see attached). He stated that with the configuration of the impound area and the number of cars in the lot; it is very difficult to move snow. Jans noted that since the aerial photo was taken, there has been a 150’ extension to the lot. The photo represents 50% of the number of cars currently being contained in the lot. Jans stated that there is one functioning gate along the north side of the lot. Snow is moved from the southeast area of the lot to the northwest. Moving 18 yards of snow makes it nearly impossible to make 90 degree turns within the lot. The cramped lot utilizes an ample amount of the Department’s time when attempting to clear the area of snow. A blade on the front of the truck pulls the snow towards the center of the aisles and a dozer takes the snow to the end of the aisles. Clearing the snow in this manner allows a tow truck to haul impounded vehicles in and out of the area. Jans described the lack of functionality with the existing 20’ gate and 18’ double swing gate. He stated that the 20’ gate to the west is a sliding gate. The gate does not have barbed wire across the top and has a large enough gap along the bottom, allowing somebody to crawl under the gate. The 18’ gate along the south side of the lot is not wide enough to plow snow through. Jans requested that the Board consider adding two 20’ roller gates along the NW side of the lot. The two gates would permit ease of snow removal. He stated that he is also expecting the wetland along the north to be filled in, allowing for further expansion of the lot. Mattson asked how long vehicles are kept in the impound lot. Miller answered that depending on whether the car was involved in an accident or a crime, cars can be kept in the lot for up to two years. Some cars are sent to auction. Almost daily, cars are hauled due to a seizure. Norman asked Jans if he is anticipating keeping the existing 20’ and 18’ gates. Miller stated that it might be wise to remove the 20’ gate and replace with proper fencing. Jans stated that his goal is to clear two rows of snow per gate. Heeter asked if Jans has an estimated cost. Jans stated that he received an informal quote from Country Side Fence for $1,000/gate, not including installation. Heeter stated that she could see the benefit and the time savings in having two additional gates installed along the northwest side of the lot. Heeter stated that she would be in favor of recommending a not-to-exceed amount. Mattson stated that Craig Hayes should be consulted regarding the purchasing process. Discussion occurred on whether the vendor would issue a credit on the existing 20’ gate towards the proposed work. Jans stated the gate has been damaged and might not have much value to the vendor. RECOMMENDATION: Jans to contact Craig Hayes to obtain quotes for installation and materials for two (2) gates and fencing with a not-to-exceed amount of $5,000. Funding from the Budget 100, Site Improvements Line Item. (End of Building Committee Minutes)
Barb Chaffee, CEO of Central MN Jobs & Training Services, provided information on the CMJTS Annual Report, a Business Resource Guide, various reports and statistics related to the CMJTS, and a proposed 2008-2010 Joint Powers Board Agreement. Chaffee said the eleven member counties have been together since 1984, including Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Pine, Renville, Sherburne, and Wright. The workforce area is comprised of some of the fastest growing counties in the State. When the Joint Powers Board was formed in 1984, there were thirteen counties involved and included Stearns and Benton Counties. At that time, Stearns tried to convince the Joint Powers Board that they should have 2-3 Commissioners on the Board representing Stearns and Benton Counties. The remaining member counties declined and so Stearns withdrew. Benton County followed in 1985. Wright County was the fifth fastest growing County in the State from 1990-2006 when the population gained 67.1%. Wright County is now the 10th largest County in the State and the second largest in Central Minnesota. The Joint Powers Board determines the borders of the service area, which is financially strong. Other workforce center areas of the State require counties to contribute toward keeping their workforce centers open. Chaffee said no funding has been requested to keep the six workforce centers open in the eleven county workforce area. Chaffee requested approval of the Joint Powers Board Agreement for 2008-2010. The only change from previous agreements is that funding is through the Department Of Employment and Economic Development whereas it used to be through the Department of Economic Security. Eichelberg serves on the Joint Powers Board and said the eleven counties have a very good working relationship. Economic Development works closely with the Joint Powers Board. Sawatzke moved to approve the 2008-2010 Joint Powers Board Agreement, seconded by Heeter. Russek questioned whether any of the eleven member counties are considering not being a part of the Agreement. Chaffee did not envision this and said the group has been solid for 24 years. The only time in that period that there was a vote not to continue with the Joint Powers Board was when a Commissioner from Chisago County voted against it. It was a misunderstanding on what would happen to equipment if the workforce center were to close. The CMJTS is required by law to sign an agreement that if there is a change in management or if the eleven member counties decide not to continue, the computers, etc. must be returned to the State. The Commissioner from Chisago County did not understand this requirement. Mattson questioned whether the CMJTS can guarantee employment to someone who has completed training. Chaffee responded that they are not guaranteed a job. If a person loses their job, the CMJTS works to find a job of equal value. Employment and training are a part of the MFIP (MN Families Investment Program) which provides public assistance. CMJTS staff works closely with Wright County Human Services to support those that come into the program who seek employment. Mattson noted that three counties do not have public assistance. Chaffee said that is because that service is not provided to those three counties. Considerable discussion followed on providing service to illegal aliens. The CMJTS has over 60,000 people who walk into their sites per year. Those universal customers can utilize computers to find their own jobs. Those people are not asked to produce any documentation. However, if people work through a CMJTS Program, proper documentation is required. Sawatzke asked whether financial assistance is provided to illegal aliens. Chaffee explained that assistance is provided through Adult Basic Education where English is taught. The CMJTS does not fund that but uses it as a referral. The CMJTS does not find jobs for illegal aliens. Sawatzke had concern that people come from Mexico to find jobs that remain unfilled. It is a question that should be asked of government. If there is a situation where 5% of US citizens cannot find jobs yet jobs are being found for illegal aliens, there is a concern. The motion carried 5-0 to approve the Agreement. Gene Yocum, CMJTS Finance Manager, provided an overview of the CMJTS audit which was performed by LarsonAllen LLP. Angie Theisen, Central Region Manager, said most of her time is spent in Monticello covering activities related to workforce development in Wright and Sherburne Counties. Relative to the previous comments made about immigration, staff is trained annually on immigration paperwork. Those applying for services must be eligible and a rigorous process is followed to make sure the information is accurate. Regulations are followed and resources are not spent on those ineligible to work. She recognized Wright County’s members on the Workforce Investment Board including Elmer Eichelberg, Trish Taylor, Mark Sexton, Rod Peterson, and Noel LaBine. The Annual Report, in calendar format, highlights the success story of a Wright County person who utilized the Dislocated Worker Program to start a new career. This story was included in the State Annual Report that is sent to the Federal Government. Theisen referenced the labor market information and said the greatest challenge in workforce development in the Wright County area is commuting. Wright County has 57.9% of the workforce commuting elsewhere. However, what is going on in Wright County with workforce development outweighs that issue. New businesses looking for a place to start look for a young labor force, growth in the labor force, and the labor force participation rate. Wright County is very attractive for businesses. The CMJTS works closely with the Economic Development Partnership and local businesses to retain the young labor force. Theisen referenced historical UI data. Wright County is tied for the 4th lowest UI rate (4.3%) in the region. Mattson referenced the influx of immigrants in the St. Cloud area and questioned the funding for Stearns and Benton Counties as it relates to their workforce centers. Chaffee stated Stearns and Benton workforce service area does not have enough money to fund the staff positions. The two counties contribute $250,000 to keep their workforce center open. The CMJTS does not serve individuals from Stearns and Benton Counties as they are not in the workforce area. Russek questioned the percentage of jobs created in Wright County and how many commute. Chaffee referenced the handout on commuter patterns. Wright County has a large percentage of commuters at 20,238. About 19,000 commute to Hennepin County. Overall, they serve about 80,000 universal customers in the 11 counties.
Ken Johnson, Wright County Ag Inspector, and Kerry Saxton, SWCD, provided information on a BWSR Grant which could enable the creation of a Cooperative Weed Management Area. Johnson’s primary job as Ag Inspector is weed control but he does not have the ability to demand control on those weeds that are not included on the noxious weed list. Following the last Township Quarterly Meeting on invasive species, Johnson started thinking about how management of other weeds could be accomplished. Through the Association of Ag Inspectors, he learned of the BWSR Grant established for the development of Cooperative Weed Management Areas (restoration of natural and conservation land through invasive species removal and replanting with local species). A meeting was held last week and attended by Johnson, Saxton, Sherburne County, and the Parks Administrator. There is interest in developing a Cooperative Weed Management area. Johnson supported the eradication of wild parsnip and buckthorn. There is a large amount of buckthorn on Wright County Parks land and he envisioned a test area. Efforts could also be directed toward controlling wild parsnip. A total of $600,000 is available to be distributed through the Grant, with each applicant receiving up to $70,000 for the two-year project. Grant requests do not require a cash match but projects with cash and/or in-kind matches will be ranked higher. Grant applications must be submitted by 3-14-08 and funds will be available around 4-14-08. Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, said they have worked on control and removal of buckthorn on Parks land over the last few years. Of the approximate $8000 last year expended toward noxious weeds, about half was toward buckthorn. There is wild parsnip on CR 8 encroaching into the grassland in Ney Park and there is also some in Collinwood Park. As part of the Cooperative Weed Management Program, part of the mission would be to provide public information. Although the invasive species may not be totally removed, the Program may allow control of the problem. In the interim, something may come forth as a good control method. Saxton learned that Sherburne County has a group working on the problem so they will not partner on the effort. Last year, the SWCD and others raised alarm on wild parsnip. He supported applying for the Grant and utilizing it to primarily target wild parsnip, which is a very invasive weed. If the system works, other invasive species could be addressed. He suggested getting the organization running to address the wild parsnip problem. If successful, the group could move onto other weeds such as buckthorn. Saxton requested a County contribution of $10,000 toward the effort. The Highway and Parks Department are already expending time and funds toward invasive weeds. He thought maybe the townships would be willing to contribute as well. With County Board approval, Saxton will then seek approval from the SWCD Board and apply for the Grant. The SWCD will be able to devote some staff time and Johnson could, under Board direction, work on this effort as well. Russek explained that wild parsnip resembles a giant dill plant. If contact is made with the plant, blisters will form on the skin. The plant has a two-year cycle. The second year the plant grows a stalk. It is a tough weed to control. Saxton said County personnel could be trained on what to look for. The public needs to be educated as well. Within one year, they would be able to determine whether their efforts are worthwhile or if the invasion has gone too far to control. Johnson said the County Ag Inspector contract would cover his hours toward the effort. He may request reimbursement of gasoline costs. Sawatzke questioned whether additional staff would need to be hired through the SWCD. Saxton said they are not looking to hire someone for the Program. However, they may look at coupling the time required into a position that is currently vacant. Saxton said the effort may result in considerable staff time. He did not feel the $10,000 County contribution would be used toward staffing, unless staff is added in the future. Staff time would be shown as an in-kind match. The more matches, the better the chance of receiving the Grant. Russek made a motion to have Wright County contribute $10,000 toward the BWSR Cooperative Weed Management Area. The motion indicates support to move forward with the Grant application. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried unanimously.
The meeting recessed at 10:04 A.M. and reconvened at 10:15 A.M.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, requested the Board schedule a Public Hearing for the Non-Metro Regional Park Grant Application. The Grant Application is a part of the LCCMR appropriation that is being recommended for the Bertram Chain of Lakes. As part of the application process, a public hearing will be held and a resolution of support will be required from Wright County and the City of Monticello. Russek moved to schedule a Public Hearing for 2-26-08 at 9:45 A.M. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 5-0.
Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, provided an update on the RFP process for the Jail/LEC Voice and Data System. On 8-28-07, the County Board authorized proceeding with the RFP. EDI has coordinated the technology for the building. Attorney, Purchasing and Risk Management staff have reviewed and support the document. The proposal was distributed 1-28-08. A pre-bid conference is scheduled for 2-06-08, with proposals due by 4:00 P.M. on 2-15-08. Swing suggested opening proposals on 2-19-08 at 9:30 A.M. with contract award on 2-26-08. On a motion by Heeter, second by Russek, all voted to set the submittal deadline for 2-15-08 at 4:00 P.M., with proposals being opened at the County Board Meeting on 2-19-08 at 9:30 A.M.
Bill Stephens, Environmental Health Officer, brought forth discussion on the mandatory EAW (Environmental Assessment Worksheet) that was performed for the Annandale Rock Products Gravel Mine proposal in Section 21, Southside Township. The EAW was mandatory as the project meets the minimum 40-acre criteria of MN Rules Chapter 4410.4300, Subp.12.B. Consultation with the EQB (Environmental Quality Board) finds that the proposed project does not meet the criteria for a mandatory EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). The EAW revealed no obvious evidence showing that any significant environmental effects will occur from the proposed project. However, the County Board has the option of deciding to conduct an EIS to further investigate if the cumulative effects of several gravel pits in the surrounding area indicate a need for further study beyond the EAW findings. The parcel acreage is 159 acres but the actual project acreage is about 91 acres. The proposal is to mine the gravel and sand. A conveyor system will be utilized to bring the material mined to their current site (east side of the existing site on CR 3 & 80th Street). The EAW addressed many issues including dust, noise, water quality, and fuel containment. All of these types of issues can be addressed through mitigation or through conditions set by the Planning Commission following regulations set by State agencies.
Stephens said one thing that was done, and is required of an EAW, is to look at the cumulative effects to the area (current, potential, and past use of the area). With regard to past gravel mine use, there are a few small gravel mines that have been completed and are in various stages of reclamation. On the north side of the Lake, there are two existing active gravel mines being used and are owned by Annandale Rock Products. One is the current mine that the applicant proposes to convey the material from the proposed project. The other is a mine on State Hwy. 55 behind the Malco Products Facility. Both mines are being utilized. They have not received any complaints and they tried to research with the PCA whether there have been any complaints on environmental incidents or chemical spills. Another area reviewed is potential future use of the land. The area is general ag zoned which allows, through a conditional use permit, mining for sand and gravel. The area is recognized as a good resource for materials in that part of the County. Currently, there are no other plans or permits applied for and no financing for other projects in that area that they area aware of. They researched files on previous mining activities in other parts of the County as they may relate to similar conditions of this project. Water resources are one of the issues. They looked at files of a gravel mining project in the Mississippi area to see if any issues came up in that area. They did not find anything that was addressed in that EAW that was not addressed in the EAW for the Annandale Rock Products project. They also reviewed mining north of the City of Buffalo, trying to look at a mining operation which is in close proximity to populated areas to see if there was anything they missed. They did not come up with anything in that EAW that was not addressed in the EAW which is being reviewed today. Upon review of past, present, and future uses of land or other conditions, they did not come up with anything that would provide any significant environmental impacts from the proposal. He reiterated that the EAW is not part of a regulatory process. It is an information gathering document with the sole purpose of accumulating information to help determine if an EIS is needed. Anything relating to approval, denial, or regulations was not to be addressed by the County Board today. Those issues would be addressed by the Planning Commission.
In response to Mattson, Stephens explained that for sand and gravel mining operations, an EIS is mandatory for 160 acres or more. The proposal from Annandale Rock Products is for 91.3 acres of project area. Mattson felt that when areas from CR 3 to the west are added, that accumulated acreage could count toward the total acreage. He felt an EIS could be completed. Stephens said this was one of the issues brought up by area residents. Stephens contacted the EQB to obtain guidance. They pointed out a particular section of MN Chapter Rules 4410 specifically stating that if part of a project or previous project had an environmental review completed, it is exempt from a subsequent environmental review. An EAW was conducted on the original pit where they are proposing to bring the material to (for washing and crushing). As an EAW was completed on that pit, they are exempt from being considered for this proposal. Therefore, the proposal falls below the 160 acre criteria. Mattson felt the applicant was staying just under the guidelines as time goes along. East of CR 3, he thought that acreage was at a point where they didn’t have to have anything done. Stephens responded that the EAW as proposed is the only thing they are allowed to look at, other than cumulative impacts. They can’t make a judgment on whether to consider that as far as a mandatory EIS requirement, based on whether or not the project had an EAW completed previously. MN Rules state that has to be exempt and they can only consider this project on its own merit. Mattson asked Stephens to explain what makes the EIS important over the EAW. Stephens said the EAW is an information gathering document. The goal is to see whether there are issues that are being overlooked. With an EAW, any issues that do come up that can be mitigated with a condition, or through State or local regulations, to alleviate problems are acceptable. An EIS comes into the situation when you find an issue that is not covered by State or local regulations to help cover any potential problems that may arise. Typically, an EIS is done for large scale projects (power lines, pipeline projects). There are EIS criteria within MN Rules that address different types of projects. For sand and gravel mining operations, the minimum criteria for an EIS is 160 acres. This project, on its own merits, does not meet the criteria.
Heeter referenced comments by Stephens on the law, rules, and what is required. She then read comments from the EAW Summary, Findings, and Order. The first states, “The EAW does not include the existing mining operation to the east in its assessment.” Heeter stated Stephens said this was looked at cumulatively and in her mind, this was a little bit contradictory. The EAW further states that, “The existing gravel pit to the east and the proposed gravel pit in the EAW should be considered as a connected action,” and “The level of information an analysis in the answer to cumulative impacts does not allow the reader to reach a conclusion on the potential for significant environmental effects from cumulative potential impacts.” Heeter said the cumulative issue is huge no matter what the law says. This is about quality of life and the issues of people who live in the area. She felt this should be looked at due to the cumulative issue. Stephens clarified that the item referenced by Heeter caused him confusion as well. That is why he consulted the EQB for an opinion. Because the environmental review was done on the existing project before, that exempts that from being considered for the mandatory EIS. That does not exempt them from the cumulative effects and they tried to do that with the EAW.
John Swanson, Lake Sylvia, was hoping an engineer would be present today. The Lake report did pinpoint inaccuracies and vague statements. He felt the problem was that nothing had been tested to show what was below the surface of the ground. To go between 1’ to 1.5’ of the groundwater level is very dangerous. Also, they are supposedly going within 400’ of the Lake. He felt this was out of line for the potential of causing harm to the environment and the Lake in the future. One of the things pointed out in a Kandiyohi County case was that the Supreme Court said relying on the word of the petitioner with no documentation was faulty reasoning and ordered the County to grant an EIS. He said there has been no testing so they were relying on the word that it is going to be okay. If an EIS is done, that should prove whether or not it is going to be harmful or detrimental to the environment and the Lake in the future. He felt there was danger in not completing an EIS. If somebody calls a wrong shot up front and then there is harm later on, it is too late. Another factor in the Kandiyohi County case is that Duininck Brothers stated the pits had a zero impact and that adding zero will equal zero. Based on that logic, Kandiyohi County denied the EIS. The Court came back and said this was wrong and that they needed to grant an EIS. One of the criteria for an EIS is a significant potential environmental impact. The potential cumulative effect means a series of small impacts or multiple pits that can add up to be a significant impact. Swanson said there is no knowledge of what is below the surface of the ground. The proposal is to mine deep and close to the water. If things are not okay, someone may have made the wrong decision which they and future generations will pay for. He supported the completion of an EIS. The cost for the EIS was minimal compared to the income generated by the project. At least it would provide assurance that whatever the EIS reflects, it will be something that will show whether the project will be good or not. Until it is completed, they will not know.
In response to Heeter, Stephens said the proposal for the pit includes a 10-year timeline. He referenced comments made and the implication made that the County does not have concern with citizens in mind. Although certain decisions may seem that way, he did not want it to come across that way. They did look at the particular issues commented on regarding the groundwater level and mining to within 1.5’ of the groundwater level. Rather than take the word of the applicant, they obtained the well logs for that area (including the ground elevations and the static water levels) as submitted to the State. Subtracting those two, the groundwater elevation is found within the area. They found 13 wells within the north side of the Lake that they could get both figures on. They came up with an average groundwater depth of 1036’. The proposal is to mine to 1051’, which is a difference of 15’ from the bottom of the greatest depth of the mine to the average groundwater depth. Another thing they tried to do is to research any other studies which may have been completed to find out whether the proposal is closely related to another project. A few years ago, there was a study done for the Lake John gravel proposal. The conclusion of that study assumes that if proper mitigation factors and precautions were taken during the operation, there was not concern for potential groundwater contamination. There is always potential and he did not want to imply there was not. That is why mitigation factors are looked at, conditions through the Planning Commission, fuel containment, etc. Staff read through the Kandiyohi County lawsuit. Their take was that the main reason there is a lawsuit is that the EAW stated they did not have to look at the cumulative potential impacts and they did not look at those. That is why the lawsuit was brought forth. With regard to the proposal from Annandale Rock Products, staff is trying to look at cumulative potential impacts as well so all bases are covered. With regard to Mattson’s comments on the minimum criteria for a mandatory EIS, he said the EIS must be completed if it meets the minimum criteria offered by State guidelines.
What is being reviewed today is a discretionary EIS, and the Board has the option to choose to do so if it determines the need is there. He reiterated that with all the research they have done (all the documents, files and studies reviewed, projects, with proper mitigation factors and following State agency regulations dealing with those issues such as fuel containment and air emissions), they feel the project could be operated within those guidelines and not produce any significant environmental impacts. There is always the potential. For instance, if the applicant doesn’t want to operate the system or project as well as they should. Those types of things are dealt with at the Planning Commission level or at the State Regulatory level. All that is being done at this point is to present the information they have and their recommendation. It is the Board’s discretion to choose how to proceed.
Eichelberg questioned if an EIS is not ordered, what type of conditions can be imposed to satisfy the neighbor’s concerns. Russek responded that conditions can be imposed. They do listen to public input on timelines, hours of operation, the depth of mining, etc. Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said there are questions besides the environmental questions the Planning Commission has to deal with. When dealing with an EAW or an EIS, they are quite focused on how this impacts the natural environment. There are things such as traffic, noise, and the site of the pits. However, those things are not environmental impacts. They may affect the neighborhood but they are not things that have a long-term environmental effect. Those are things the Planning Commission addresses and may have reason to base approval or denial upon. A number of these environmental assessments have been completed and virtually always the State Health Department, the PCA, and the DNR say there is not an environmental issue so an EIS is not required. Salkowski said they are mining in the water table at the Barton pit in the Wild & Scenic River District on the Mississippi River. They have a drag line where they are dragging material up from 30’ under the water. The response from the DNR in that situation is that an EIS was not needed.
Salkowski said the impact, if there is one, is going to be from poor operation not design. If fuel is stored on top of gravel in large tanks and is knocked over by trucks, there is a potential impact on the environment. He felt it fair to say that most of the issues that neighborhoods have with gravel pits are more nuisance issues than environmental statements. What is before the Board today to decide is whether there is an environmental impact or some other type of impact. He referenced Swanson’s comments on completing an EIS (that if an EIS is completed and it reflects the project is according to plans everything will be fine and those issues will be taken off the table). However, that still leaves the other issues such as noise, truck traffic, and the esthetics of having the mining operation near the neighborhood. In summary, Salkowski said the Planning Commission takes environmental and other impacts into consideration when dealing with these types of permits. While the environment is an important component, it is not the only factor they have to look at. Russek said as a member of the Planning Commission, he has not normally voted for an EIS in the past. He had concern that completing an EIS would further limit the ability to decline if that is what the Planning Commission desires. The Planning Commission turned down a pit a while ago due to the conditions surrounding it. He felt the EIS was an extra tool but didn’t feel much more was answered than is addressed through an EAW.
Mattson questioned what can’t be done if there is an EIS. Stephens explained the EIS and the EAW are not regulatory documents. The EIS is a more refined, extensive, information gathering document. The findings from the EIS are given to the Planning Commission to impose conditions and utilized by the State to determine what criteria needs to be followed to keep within the grounds of environmental protection. Mattson questioned whether Annandale Rock Products had completed a private EAW. Salkowski said the EAW completed by the County is before the Board. Annandale Rock Products held some community or information meetings at the Township Hall. Most gravel companies have information on quantity and quality of gravel. Salkowski referenced the question Mattson had on whether anything is gained or lost with an EIS. He affirmed Stephens’ explanation that it is an information gathering device. The recommendation being made is based upon all that is known. They don’t see a need to go through an extensive process and expense for an EIS. He did not feel anything additional would be learned. However, they are not infallible. If the Board feels a discretionary EIS should be completed, that is what will be done. Mattson said the community and lake associations support completing an EIS. The residents have indicated that they will live with what the EIS reflects. Salkowski felt that they may still hear objections to the project even if the EIS is completed. He did not feel it would solve all problems.
Sawatzke called upon Tim Ferrell, Annandale Rock Products, to answer some questions. Sawatzke asked how many gravel pits the company has in the Township that are operating now or in the past, and whether those that are no longer operating have been reclaimed. Mattson said it would have been helpful to have pictures of the pits that have not been reclaimed. Ferrell responded that they have, in that area, a pit that is on the southwest side of Lake John (67th Street) and a main facility with a wash plant and crushing facility on the north end of Lake Sylvia (80th Street). There is another pit on the north side of TH 55 by Malco Tools. Ferrell said the question comes up as to why their company has so many pits. He explained their business is different than others that have requested gravel pits. Annandale Rock Products offers a wide variety of gravel products whereas most of the competition is in the asphalt business. Annandale Rock Products produces washed materials used in ready mix and concrete. They make asphalt aggregate and Class 5 for townships, gravel roads, and commercial and city projects. They produce 30-40 different products. Ferrell said the Lake John process was lengthy. One of the concerns was the wash plant, wash water, and the potential for runoff. During the process, they agreed to remove the wash plant from the proposal so there is not a wash plant at that pit. That limits what can be produced. Class 5 is the major product they produce. They also produce asphalt aggregate which is hauled to other pits.
Ferrell said the reason they are asking for the extension to the main gravel pit is because the main pit already has the wash area where other aggregates are produced. He felt they have made a large effort to greatly reduce both the environmental and quality of life issues in that area. He referenced the area closest to Lake Sylvia. The landscape includes a large bluff, mature trees, and a rapid drop toward the Lake. Annandale Rock Products has agreed to stay on the north side of the bluff area. The tree line and bluff will not be disturbed. All rain and runoff will be contained within the pit. There is a proposed berm along 80th Street which will be higher than vehicles traveling by. Another thing they have done is not requested a wash plant or crusher for the pit. All material will be placed on a conveyor and moved to the wash plant. There will only be a couple pieces of equipment and there shouldn’t be much noise. Truck traffic from the main facility will be on the east end of 80th Street and not routed by homes. He felt the company had taken a lot of steps to minimize the impacts to the neighbors.
Sawatzke said there are apparently four active pits. He wanted to know the reclamation efforts of those that are not active. He felt this was about cumulative effects and without knowing the company’s past success, it would be hard to project their future success. Ferrell said the pit on CR 3, 80th Street, was mined out several years ago. Per the reclamation plan, the banks were built back to the slope required. They do a lot of work with road reconstruction projects. There were a couple of large road projects in Annandale last year. As part of the projects, they removed soil that is not suitable for road building (estimated 3000-4000 yards) which may include a mixture of clay, gravel and black dirt. The material is hauled to the plant near 80th Street and CR 3. He felt hauling more material in resulted in better slopes, as they become flatter. In a sense, they are building up the land. One thing in the proposal is to move the wash plant to the western side of the 80th Street pit. They have been mining from the east to the west in that pit. The eastern portion is mainly mined but there are a lot of stockpiles. When they move the wash plant to the western side, they would start stockpiling to the west. The stockpiles would be moved from the eastern side where the slopes are already built. That would leave the bottom of the pit that needs to be reclaimed.
Sawatzke asked how many years Annandale Rock Products has been in business, and how many pits have been left (depleted the resources and left). Ferrell explained they had been in business since the mid 1980’s. The only plant he could think of where the resources had been completely depleted and the company moved out of was the property west and north of the Southside Township Hall (leased from Butch LaTour). They did something with that property similar to what is being requested. They put in a conveyor that ran the material to the pit so it could be washed and crushed. That has all been reclaimed. It slopes down and is rolling on the bottom. The property owner has dug some holes. Ferrell said that area has been reclaimed. They have built the slopes and planted trees in areas of the main pit located on 80th Street. There are stockpiles there also. With all of the products produced, there is a tendency to spread out. They make many piles for their operation and use up quite a bit of land. They reclaim as they go.
Sawatzke said it appears there are about four active sites. He asked whether those sites had the topsoil that was originally removed stockpiled on site to be used for reclamation or whether the material had been removed. Ferrell said there is some of each occurring. If the Planning Commission’s requirements were to leave the material on site, that is what they did. With other sites, they have hauled the topsoil off. Where they have hauled in the topsoil, they had several jobs where they obtained good topsoil. Overall, he thought they had hauled in a lot more good topsoil than what was hauled out. Russek said the Planning Commission will require a $100,000 bond for reclamation and a date in which reclamation must be completed by. Otherwise, the County had the $100,000 bond to draw from. The Planning Commission has done this for the past couple of years. Stephens said the request before the Board is to make a decision on whether to complete a discretionary EIS or whether no EIS is required and to ask for their signature on the appropriate document.
Mattson made a motion to require an EIS for the area. He felt this was appropriate due to the concern of all of the lake associations out there. They have been requesting this and the County has been denying it. This is the largest project that has come before the Board due to the acreage involved. The motion was seconded by Heeter. Heeter said the EIS is an information gathering device and will provide the information needed to satisfy the concerns on environmental impacts.
Sawatzke asked Stephens whether the scope of the EIS would need to be defined to indicate what the EIS would target. Stephens said in reading through the EAW guidelines that address EIS development, the existing EAW is used as a guide. They will hold meetings to try to define the scope of what they hope to accomplish with an EIS if they don’t know what it is. He stated that the guidelines from the EQB concerning the EAW and EIS process are being reviewed because of the issue in Kandiyohi County. The current guidelines are not clear. At this point, he said he could not give a definitive answer either way. Tom Zins, Assistant County Attorney, questioned whether the motion included adopting the draft Findings that were in front of the Board. It was confirmed that the motion did include the Findings. The motion failed 2-3 with Russek, Eichelberg, and Sawatzke casting the nay votes. Sawatzke said the issues he found most significant were dust, noise, and truck traffic. Those are issues the Planning Commission handles. They are nuisances and problematic and come with living by gravel. If a person is in the gravel business it is great. If not, residents live with these unpleasant things as the resource is valuable. Those things have a limited time frame while the gravel is being removed. What concerned him the most was if, after a period of time, there is still a nuisance (i.e., unclaimed gravel pit). It appeared there are a lot of gravel pits in this area. Whether they are an eyesore or an environmental problem, he viewed it as site pollution and it creates environmental problems. He was unsure whether the EIS would address the largest concerns he has. He did not want to dismiss the concerns of the neighbors but he was trying to determine whether anything would be solved through the EIS. He wished there was a way to deal with reclamation in a better fashion than is being done. Although the applicant answered the questions with regard to reclamation, a different response was indicated by those residents in attendance (through their body language). Sawatzke was unsure whether Annandale Rock Products had done a good job of reclaiming the properties that Ferrell suggested were reclaimed. Russek restated that the Planning Commission now requires a bond for reclamation. It provides some leverage to make sure reclamation is completed. Mattson did not feel the $100,000 bond would cover reclamation of the site if the operator walked away. He felt it would be at minimum $500,000 for the 90-acre site. Sawatzke asked about the 60-day rule implication. Stephens said by guidelines, after the 30-day comment period ends, the Board is given a 30-day open window to make a decision. The County opted to extend this period by an additional 30 days because of the connected or phased actions. The new deadline is 2-05-08 that the decision has to be made by the Board. Russek made a motion not to require an EIS. Most of the issues that need to be dealt with will be addressed by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission will review the request and it will then be determined to approve or disapprove it. The Planning Commission turned down a gravel pit request not long ago. There is no cut and dried answer as to whether it will be approved or not. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke shared Mattson’s concerns on the bond amount being potentially inadequate. This could be reevaluated when the Planning Commission determines criteria that must be met, assuming the request is approved. He hoped the Planning Commission could complete a more in-depth study on the applicant’s history of reclamation. They could decide if the bond needs to be increased in value or more hardened conditions imposed (keeping the topsoil on site, etc. and associated penalties). This could help to ensure that the property remains as desirable as it is now. He recognized the resource is valuable but hated to see the landscape scarred from not completing appropriate reclamation. Russek said the Planning Commission will look at those things. They will want to know if there are any special concerns of the residents on conditions that could be imposed. There is the ability to impose conditions as requested by the Township. Mattson asked how the Township voted on the request. Stephens understood that when Annandale Rock Products presented their request, the Township voted against it. From reading the minutes, the main issue is reclamation and whether or not this could be addressed a little more completely in future projects. Mattson suggested that as a courtesy to Southside Township, the Planning Commission should invite them in to discuss issues before moving forward. Another thing Mattson requested was for a map to be prepared reflecting all Annandale Rock Products gravel sites. Zins wanted clarification that the motion included approving the draft Findings as prepared by staff. Eichelberg said the motion was to approve the Summary, Findings and Order of the EAW and to not require an EIS. The motion carried 3-2 with Heeter and Mattson casting the nay votes.
An Owner’s Committee Meeting was held on 1-22-08. At today’s County Board Meeting, Heeter moved to approve the minutes. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 5-0:
PROJECT UPDATE: A&P. Streich stated that installation of the roof decking continues and will be completed in Area A of the LEC today. The upper light monitor framing and sheeting will begin. Roof blocking has begun, however, has stalled due to the weather conditions (wind and cold temperatures). The roofers are installing roof drains. The roofing materials are to be delivered on Monday, 1-28-08, so that roofing can begin on the LEC. Yesterday, the temporary stairs were installed. The stairs will permit access to the second floor and roof. The windows have been enclosed and a curtain will enclose Area A so that the heater can be turned on. The heater was delivered on 1-22-08. Wiring and the gas piping is being installed so that the heater can be turned on by 1-23-08. Caulking was completed on the inside precast panels yesterday. Temporary lighting for under the decking has been installed. The goal is to install the electrical and mechanical on the second level decking so that the deck can be poured by the end of the week of 1-28-08. The precast panels, columns, and decking has been installed in Area B. The first precast unit was set in Area B yesterday. Streich added that the project is moving along, despite the weather.
Heeter asked if the first precast cell has been installed in its permanent location. Streich stated yes. Upon approval, four additional cells will be delivered on 1-31-08. The remaining cells are scheduled for delivery at the end of March or beginning of April, 2008. Streich stated that he continues to work out the delivery schedule based on road restrictions. Sawatzke asked when road restrictions typically occur. Streich stated that road restrictions typically begin during the first two weeks of March. Streich described the delivery route from Topeka, Kansas. Morrell Companies, Elk River, is the delivery contractor. The trucks can haul the units only during daylight hours. The loads are too wide for Interstate 494/394.
Blotske presented proposed change order #017 (PCO #017) for miscellaneous changes to structural steel and footings. The total amount of the PCO is an add-on of $12,526.00. Buikema explained that through pricing and design review with A&P, changes were made to eliminate issues, resulting in an add-on of $12,526.00, instead of an anticipated amount of $25,000. The PCO is the result of two issues. Steel was needed to support the block walls above the hollow metal frames for glass and glazing. This portion had not been drawn in time for bid package #2. The second issue had to do with the framing above the elevators. After receiving the elevator shop drawings, revisions had to be made to the framing around the elevator shaft to provide for additional headroom, or clearance. However, through further review, the hollow metal frames were modified to support themselves. RECOMMENDATION: Approve and proceed with PCO 017 – BP#2 PR 003, for miscellaneous changes to structural steel and footings, in the amount of $12,526.00.
Buikema stated KKE continues to work on shop drawings. A&P provides KKE with its list of priorities. Currently, KKE is focusing on the shop drawings for windows, metal panels, metal siding on the exterior of the building, and miscellaneous interior items. Buikema stated that he has inspected the cell that was delivered on 1-21-08. He stated that he thinks the cells look good (i.e. interior finish, light fixture, toilet). He stated that KKE has made a few comments that relate to the mechanical exterior portion of the cell. He stated that they have recommended an additional flange on the diffusers so that the mechanical contractor can connect their ductwork to it. The flange currently sticks out by a quarter of an inch. The mechanical contractor will look at the flange to determine the appropriate size. When Sawatzke questioned whether the change would produce additional costs, Buikema stated that KKE’s comments are to ensure the product is made correctly. The cost will not be affected. He added that he was not happy with the number of security bars in the sleeves on the back of the cell. The standard is to place security bars 6” on center, or 5” clear space. This is to prevent a person from crawling through the space if the toilet was removed from the wall. Hoffman stated that the Department is looking to raise funds to place a life-size bronze statue at the front of the LEC. The statue is of a law enforcement officer holding a small boy’s hand. Hoffman stated that in planning for the memorial, KKE has been requested to design a platform into the front walk of the Jail/LEC. Buikema stated that KKE did anticipate the placement of the memorial and designed a circular platform. Hoffman presented a brochure and information regarding the artisan and fundraising efforts to seek monies to purchase the statue. Miller stated that the statue is cast in Howard Lake and the company has been in business for thirty years, specializing in public safety and law enforcement. Miller stated that this item is being brought to the Board’s attention to determine whether the Board is in support of a memorial. Hoffman stated that the early cost projections are $20,000 for the statue, and $5,000 - $10,000 for the base. Sawatzke noted another local artisan who produces metal displays. Discussion continued on Hoffman’s methods of fundraising. Sawatzke asked if there would be an inscription on the front of the statue. Miller stated that the Department anticipates honoring those that have lost their lives during the line-of-duty. Miller noted that Wright County has the highest number of line-of-duty officer deaths than any other county in the State.
The meeting reconvened at the site of the Jail/LEC at 1:30 p.m. Streich provided a tour of the recently delivered precast unit and Area A of the LEC. In attendance were: Gary Miller, Todd Hoffman, John Williamson, Commissioner Jack Russek, and Gary Torfin. (End of Owner’s Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Meeting was held on 1-23-08. At today’s County Board Meeting, Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0. Norman asked whether the Board wanted to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting per the recommendation outlined in the minutes. Norman was directed to place this on the next County Board Agenda. The minutes follow:
Request To Add One Full Time Licensed Position For Implementation And Supervision Of The Courthouse Security Division (Sheriff Department). Miller said his Department previously was asked what would be required to run Court security. Based on their recommendation, additional staff was hired. Miller explained that at the time, they did not figure in the relief factor for the Court Security and Bailiff positions. The request is to add one full-time licensed position. Miller provided an overview of the eight stations that are covered by eight staff, including Korbel. Korbel’s position was not backfilled when he was promoted. Korbel has been covering the relief factor for all positions, including those which transport prisoners to Court. Sawatzke asked about coverage when Judges take vacation. Korbel explained that many times, another 10th Judicial District Judge is called in. However, there are times where there are not six Judges present. Sawatzke did not feel this was the right time to add security to the Courthouse. He argued against this action 1.5 years ago. He thought the Government Center was the safest building in the County and did not support spending $250,000/year with armed personnel at the two entrances. He suggested laying this discussion over to the 2009 Budget sessions when inmate transport is discussed. With the move to the Jail/LEC scheduled for 2009, security requirements will change. Miller agreed that security needs will change. What was being presented would address today’s needs. Security will have to be addressed again in the future. Miller said the issue of Courthouse security was brought forth recently by Department Heads. Sawatzke felt the entire Courthouse security issue came about as a result of an article on Stearns County, and that the article was misinterpreted to mean the entire facility was locked and metal detectors were being used. He contacted the Stearns County Administrator at that time and learned the metal detectors were being utilized in the Courts area only. He felt the issue got started based on a false pretense that Stearns County was doing this. Norman said Wright County had been discussing security long before the Stearns County article. Sawatzke said the level of security measures we are taking are not seen in other counties such as Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, Carver, Scott, or Hennepin. Norman felt there were areas in the Courthouse that were not secure and the County Board voted to move on the security issue. Sawatzke said the Sheriff Department provides safety for the citizens of Wright County. He felt the Courthouse was far more secure than many other locations. Miller previously served on committees addressing security (secure doors, camera systems). The County Board directed the Sheriff Department to determine what it would take to secure the Courthouse. The suggestion was to have two secure entrances. Miller felt it was his obligation to provide information on security but the County Board needed to decide on how to proceed. He thought the Board should address concerns being voiced by other Department Heads. Eichelberg suggested that a Committee Of The Whole Meeting be scheduled and to invite Department Heads. Recommendation: No action will be taken on this issue at this time. The Committee recommends scheduling a Committee Of The Whole Meeting to discuss the issue further. (End of Personnel Committee Minutes)
It was announced that the Owner’s Committee will not meet today.
Correspondence was received from Kennedy & Graven, Chartered relating to the desire of Wright County and the City of Monticello to work together to accomplish the goal of creating additional park space, if the County decides to proceed with the purchase of land for park purposes. Kennedy & Graven, Chartered acts as the County’s bond counsel and as bond counsel and development counsel to the City of Monticello. They are requesting a signed letter that recognizes the potential conflict of interest that might arise from working on joint projects, per MN Rules of Professional Responsibility. Heeter and Norman viewed it as a benefit that both entities have the same bond counsel. Heeter moved to sign the waiver of potential conflict letter, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0.
Heeter referenced correspondence received on the Minnesota Oomph! Conference, being sponsored by the Initiative Foundation. The Conference will be held on 3-06-08 at the St. Cloud Civic Center and is aimed at elected leaders and planners. Heeter moved to authorize attendance, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
At the last County Board Meeting, Russek was authorized to present three dates to Randy’s Sanitation and Hennepin County to meet on the potential use of the Compost Facility for source separated recycling. Russek moved to schedule the meeting for 3-05-08 at 10:00 A.M., Wright County Board Room. Russek said the plan is to potentially tour a current facility operation prior to that date. The motion was seconded by Heeter and carried 5-0.
Heeter invited Commissioners to a meeting being held by the Greater MN Health Care Coalition on 1-31-08. The meeting will address county-based purchasing of low-income health care programs. She felt it may be an opportunity to save money. Heeter moved to authorize attendance, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
A Building Committee Of The Whole Meeting was to be held at 10:30 A.M. today. Due to the length of the Board Meeting, Norman suggested rescheduling it. Heeter moved to reschedule the meeting to 2-05-08 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried 5-0.
Bills Approved
Brian Abrahamson $129.98
Ace Auto Upholstery 140.00
American Institutional Supply 278.17
Beaudry Propane Inc. 4,157.86
Buffalo Hospital 11,279.59
Burdas Towing 162.95
Tim Cameron 150.00
Cokato Motor Sales 12,725.00
Crow River Tools 129.98
Cub Pharmacy 1,791.51
Embarq 191.16
Bruce Giebink 259.00
Hillyard Floor Care Supply 1.601.02
Interstate All Battery Center 225.31
LaPlant Demo Inc. 546.11
LexisNexis 110.00
Lund Industries Inc. 483.16
Marco 353.41
Marco Inc. 1,806.26
Midland Corporate Benefits Svc 997.75
Midwest Machinery Co. 195.11
Mobile Vision 15,720.00
Chad Nelson 400.00
Nortec Marketing 15,847.00
Office Depot 760.20
Persian Business Equipment 620.00
Precision Prints of Wright Co. 2,025.84
Rengel Printing Co. 1,341.81
RS Eden 9,105.15
John Russek 182.44
Ryan Chevrolet 1,698.63
Smith Micro Technologies Inc. 992.00
Sprint 618.51
St. Cloud Stamp & Sign Inc. 137.10
State of MN-Office Enterprise 1,065.00
State Supply Co. 174.72
Strategic Equipment and Supply 215.73
Stratus Technologies Ireland 8,675.39
Streichers 995.91
Summit Envirosolutions Inc. 1,875.75
Total Printing 2,072.97
Verizon Wireless 939.95
Walmart Store 01-1577 829.95
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 41,745.00
Wright Hennepin Co-op Electric 381.18
94 Services Inc. 639.00
13 Payments less than $100 639.21
Final total $147,411.77
The meeting adjourned at 11:36 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Feb. 25, 2008.