Wright County Board Minutes

NOVEMBER 4, 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 10-28-08 were corrected as follows: Page 1, 2nd paragraph, 2nd line, change from, “Russek moved to approve the Agenda as amended…” to “Russek moved to approve the minutes as amended…” (Russek). On a motion by Russek, second by Heeter, all voted to approve the 10-28-08 minutes as corrected.
Corrections were made to the Agenda as follows: 9:20 A.M. Agenda Item relating to the request to deny a rezoning request for Maurice Carlin should be changed from “Rockford Township” to “Silver Creek Township” (Russek). Russek moved to approve the Agenda as corrected, seconded by Heeter, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Heeter, second by Mattson, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: B. Rhineberger, P&Z; J. Koenig, Sheriff.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, brought forth discussion on the issuance of a Capital Equipment Note. At the last County Board Meeting, the Board adopted a resolution declaring the intent to proceed with the 800 MHz project, which carries an approximately $4.1 million project scope. The resolution declares the County can be reimbursed for expenses related to the project. The three-year capital note will be just over $8 million and will cover both the 800 MHz project and equipment purchases (squad cars, computers, and major Road & Bridge equipment). Mattson hoped the 800 MHz radio will be guaranteed for three years without additional costs. Russek and Bill Swing, Information Technology Director, indicated that the system will be compatible with the 700 MHz system at the point that system is implemented. Swing referenced correspondence generated by Ronald Vegamast on the 800 MHz system and the response by the State on Vegamast’s opinion. Swing stated that Vegamast could have elected to be a part of the process over the past 2.5 years but instead brought forth things at the eleventh hour. Swing reassured the Board that much effort has been expended into this project and it will not be a system that will be changed out in three years. Technologies will continue to evolve, but he felt the County is ready to embark on this quality safety system. Discussion led to the repayment of the note. Hiivala stated that the 2009 budget includes debt service for the equipment portion of the note. Payments for the equipment note will be in 2009, 2010, and 2011. The 800 MHz project was not included in the 2009 budget. Therefore, the payments for that portion will be in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Barry Fick, Springsted Financial Advisors, said if the County Board approves proceeding with the bond sale, it will be formalized by resolution at the next County Board Meeting. The bond sale date would be 12-01-08, with award of the sale at the 12-02-08 County Board Meeting. Funds would be received prior to the end of 2008. With regard to timing of the bond sale, Fick said the last two weeks of December should be avoided. In order to have the best reception (due to people being gone for the Holidays), the preferred schedule is earlier in December. The bonds are bank qualified so that will increase the number of potential purchases. Russek moved to approve the intent to move forward with the issuance of the Capital Note, seconded by Heeter. In response to Mattson, Fick explained that the County has the option to reject bids if they come in too high. The bonds will be set up to realize the maximum flexibility of the issuance size. The motion carried 5-0.
The claims listing was discussed. Russek referenced a claim on Page 4 to Schneider Corporation ($4,215.00) with funding from the Recorder’s Furniture & Equipment line item. He questioned whether this could be funded by the Recorder’s Compliance Fund. Hiivala will consult the Recorder on whether this can be done. Mattson referenced a claim on Pages 8 and 9 to Buffalo Hospital ($11,279.59). A correction will be made and the description will read, “November Contract Services.” Mattson moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit, noting that Hiivala should research the funding of the payment to Schneider Corporation and should make the correction on the claim to Buffalo Hospital. Russek seconded the motion and it carried unanimously.
Greg Kramber, Assessor, requested approval to pursue contracts for assessing services. He currently holds contracts with the townships of Buffalo, Clearwater, Franklin, Maple Lake and Monticello and the cities of Albertville, Annandale, Buffalo, Cokato, Dayton, Hanover, Monticello, Rockford, South Haven, Waverly and Otsego. The proposed rate for 2009/2010 is $10.50/parcel for all the districts under contract with Wright County for assessment services. The contract includes a new construction fee of $25.00 for each new home, a $25.00 fee for each new commercial/industrial/apartment with an EMV (estimated market value) of less than $500,000, and a $100.00 fee for each new commercial/industrial/apartment with an EMV of greater than $500,000. The new construction fees are only applied in the districts that issue their own permits. Kramber completed a survey of neighboring counties and found the rates to be competitive. These are the same rates used for the 2009 contract. The contract has been reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office. Sawatzke moved to approve the request, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0.
Steve Jobe, Surveyor, requested that the Board adopt a resolution executing Mn/DOT Agreement No. 93393 (Joint Powers Agreement – County LiDAR and Orthophoto Project). Mn/DOT has agreed to partner in the project and will contribute $25,000 and some in-kind services. Wright County will provide Mn/DOT with a license to the data and the Digital Elevation Model. The Agreement has been reviewed by the County Attorney’s Office. Heeter moved to adopt Resolution #08-43, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, brought forth a request to accept the findings and recommendations of the Planning Commission for denial of a rezoning and authorize signature on the Notice & Order of Denial for Maurice Carlin (Silver Creek Township). On a 4/2 vote, the Planning Commission recommends denial of the request to rezone from AG & S-2 to R-1 & S-2. Copies of the Notice of Order & Denial were included along with the Notice of Negative Recommendation and Planning Commission Minutes. Exhibit 2 of the Facts and Issue reflects that the property consists of approximately 36 acres (only 20 acres above water). The property is located on Lake Maria and is adjacent to Lake Maria State Park. Lake Maria is designated a Natural Environment Lake by the MN Department of Natural Resources. All residential entitlements on this property have been used. The AG zoning district allows one residential entitlement per each 40 acres. The applicant’s land is designated AR in the County’s Land Use Plan. If rezoned to the appropriate A/R Zoning District, in general a minimum lot size of 10 acres would be allowed. The applicant purchased the land in 1990. Neither the zoning nor the future designation for the land has changed since that time. The request is to divide the 36 acres to allow a division of approximately 8 acres (3.27 acres above water) so it can be marketed for residential purchases.
Carlin was present at today’s Board Meeting. He stated that the request was brought before the Planning Commission. In review of the documents provided, he did not see any reference of him trying to reclaim an abandoned County gravel pit. He is trying to do something positive to make this a nice piece of property. Carlin provided photos of the property. The area in question was previously mined down to the water level. Black dirt and gravel were pushed to the tree line. His plan would include moving the material back to where it was mined (meeting setbacks) and placing a small cabin on the lot. The County previously had a garage on a nearby site. He was unsure why his request would be denied when he is trying to do something positive with the property. He is also being impacted with the recent changes in the Green Acres law and will have to pay taxes on the property. He questioned what could be done with the land as it is not suitable for ag or wildlife. Carlin offered the State the option to purchase the property for the past 20 years, giving them first right of refusal. They do not have the money to buy it. It was not until he proposed to do something with the property that the State had any reaction and testified at the Planning Commission Meetings. He said one of the members of the Silver Creek Board, after the unanimous vote at the Township, came to the Planning Commission and spoke against Carlin’s proposal.
Carlin referenced the filed petition. This area is designated A/R in the Land Use Plan which requires a minimum lot size of 10 acres. The portion of the property he requests to split off is around 8 acres. He said it made the most sense to split in this fashion due to the way the property fits in with the Lake. He said the reason the Land Use Plan designates this A/R is because the State Park was condemning farms around the Lake. Silver Creek Township and the County said the status should be changed because the State was buying the farms for pennies on the dollar, condemning them. He referenced the area identified as within the statutory limits of the State Park. He said the State wants to buy these properties but they cannot condemn them any longer. He said this status means nothing and is the basis for some of the decisions on his request. After the Planning Commission turned down his petition, the State offered to purchase the land and indicated they could get the land turned over to State Park land. The State did not offer him much for the land and he felt this was a land grab. He stated the documents reference the need for on-site sewers. Carlin said it will cost him $1,000 to put in two septic systems. The system and a grading plan are already designed. He planned to have this approved by the SWCD.
Russek asked whether Carlin purchased the property in this condition or whether he was paid to have the gravel mined. Carlin responded that he purchased the property in this condition and felt the property was mined when the Interstate was put in many years before. Russek said Carlin got what he purchased. Carlin agreed. The property has remained in this condition for 20 years. He was unsure whether doing something with the property was the smart thing to do with the economy the way it is. He said the documents reflect that his plan will degrade the Lake and the area. He did not agree with these statements. He said the documents also reflect the property is immediately adjacent to the State Park, which he said is not true. The property is on the same body of water. He did not feel his proposal would degrade the area, but rather the other buildings in the area degrade his property. Carlin referenced testimony of a person associated with the Friends of Lake Maria group. At the Planning Commission hearing, a person said she will donate her land to the State Park when she dies. When Carlin contacted the State to verify this, the State said this was not correct, that the person donated the land to a private conservation group. However, that group has the option to donate the land to the Park. Carlin said there has been 1500-1600 acres of land which has been condemned for the Park, taking the property off the tax roles. He did not feel this property belonged in the State Park as it is an old gravel pit. He referenced the documentation which says the plan changes the natural and stable state of the environment. He did not agree, saying that the property was changed before. He is trying to change it back to a normal and stable state. He said the documents reflect that the County Attorney feels he is doing the opposite. Right next to his property is a parcel that the County sold that was changed to Industrial/Commercial zoning. He was unsure whether he could even sell because of that. Carlin said the County allowed building to take place on that property and the septic is near the water. He referenced another large property on the Lake and said their septic is near the Lake as well. Carlin visited the Maple Lake area recently and did not see one 3.4 acre lake lot. Homes were stacked closely to one another. The zoning is different in that area. Carlin felt the Planning Commission does not want that, but he felt many people would want a cabin on the Lake. Although a portion of his property is under water, he still pays taxes on it. He did not think that the requirements reflect that if a portion of the property is under water it does not qualify as part of the acreage. He referenced properties which have ponds in them and they are not disqualified because of this. He felt that his property does qualify with the 8.3 acres. Carlin said that at the recommendation of Planning & Zoning, he decided to pursue R1. He could have the property re-surveyed. Carlin wants the request returned to the Planning Commission for reconsideration. Every time a request is presented to them, the fee is $500. He has already expended $4,000. Carlin wants to go back before the Planning Commission for reconsideration. He could work with the Planning & Zoning Department to see whether there is another alternative. He stated he would not sell the land to the State due to the underhanded land grab attempt. In response to Eichelberg, Carlin stated that the Township Board voted unanimously to approve the request.
Russek said a site inspection was performed and the Planning Commission heard the arguments. After the inspection, the members felt the request was a total rezoning and does not fit the Ordinance. That is why it was turned down. Eichelberg reviewed Planning Commission Minutes which reflect that the County is trying to work with reclaiming gravel pits. He said this is a situation where an individual is trying to clean up one of these pits. Russek said the decision was not to clean it up. The property was in this condition when Carlin purchased it and the decision was whether to rezone it to R1. The parcel provides a small area to place a cabin which may not allow full-time occupancy. Russek said the sewer is questionable with one being placed at the top and one at the bottom of the property. The only decision made by the Planning Commission was with regard to rezoning and their decision was not to allow it.
Discussion followed on Carlen’s options from this point forward. Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said the applicant owns more land allowing for various ways to split the farm, which may entitle him to another building site. The only way to separate out the piece considered in the request was to change it to R-1 zoning. Lot size or setbacks cannot be met with any other rezoning requests. Carlen felt the split as presented was the most appropriate due to the proximity of the parcel to the lake, the bridge, and because it is a gravel pit. Sawatzke said the County has a fund that can be utilized to reclaim gravel pits but it has to be public property. The fund, made of up gravel tax revenues, has not been used to date. If Carlen were to sell the land to the State, the County could perhaps use the funds to fix up the land. Sawatzke felt that if the State was aware that funding was available for this purpose, they may be more inclined to purchase the property. Carlin suggested that County equipment be used to level off the land, which could be returned to an agricultural field. Sawatzke stated the County only does this for public land. Mattson said this is the first person who has come forward to fix up a gravel pit. Mattson said his district has many junk gravel pits, and he receives negative comments from constituents on the abandoned pits. The gravel tax fund cannot be used to reclaim pits from prior years. Salkowski said Carlen takes good care of his land. He did not feel that Commissioners should receive criticism for landowners not taking care of their properties. Salkowski said there have been changes in Statutes relating to use of gravel pit reclamation funds, but not as many as he would like. The funds can be used to clean up abandoned gravel pits on public land. The thought behind the fund is that some properties would be forfeited once they are mined out. The properties would return to public land and the fund could be utilized to reclaim the land. He understood Carlen’s frustration. He referred to testimony at the Planning Commission hearing on behalf of the State Park. It was clarified at that meeting that the statutory limits of the Park is simply an area that the State may want to expand sometime. Salkowski did not feel those neighbors testifying against Carlin at the hearing represented the Park. Salkowski said that most people agree that this piece of property and others around the Lake should one day belong in the Park. Whether the Park has the money to pay fair market value is something the landowners have to consider. Heeter inquired on the time frame that would apply if the request is reconsidered by the Planning Commission and whether the outcome will be any different. She also asked whether the County Board has the authority to do this. Salkowski responded that if there is another rezoning request that could be applied relating to the same piece of property, it could be sent back to the Planning Commission. However, there is not due to setbacks. The only zoning that will apply to this property is R1. If the request today is denied by the County Board, Carlin does not have to wait one year if the request involves 10 acres or has another method to split his property. If the same request is presented, then Carlin will have to wait one year to reapply. Heeter referenced Russek’s comments that Carlin bought the property with the gravel pit. She inquired whether there was anything that could be done with the property. Salkowski stated that the property has reclaimed itself over the past 20 years. Every farmer has a portion of their land which they may deem worthless because of water or other things. The property rezoning request by Carlin is not necessarily the right place for a house. If Carlin wants to reclaim the land, he was sure the SWCD would work with him on this. The vote at the Planning Commission Hearing was split as people saw both sides. The majority did not agree with the request. Russek said there is a hole on the property and even through reclamation, it will not be filled completely. The issue addressed by the Planning Commission related to rezoning (i.e., to decide whether it was the correct location for an R1 zone) and on a 4/2 vote it was decided it was not. It is not the Planning Commission’s decision on whether the pit should be cleaned up. Carlin thanked Salkowski for his recommendation to present his request to the Planning Commission prior to expending a lot of money in reclamation. Mattson questioned whether Carlin has any options with regard to the property if the County Board accepts the Findings and Recommendations. Salkowski said that corner of the property cannot be sold as a residential lot but other parts of the farm could be. Carlin has the option of reclaiming the pit but Salkowski said it is not an eyesore. Russek said when the issue first came to the Planning Commission, they felt it may be a good idea. However after review of the site, they determined it is not a good site for an R1 zone. The vote carried 4/2 at the Planning Commission level.
Russek moved to accept the Findings and Recommendations of the Planning Commission for denial of the rezoning request. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and failed 3-2 with Eichelberg, Heeter and Mattson casting the nay votes. Sawatzke then moved to dismiss the request without prejudice, seconded by Russek. Sawatzke asked the applicant whether the applicant wanted this dismissed without prejudice, meaning he will not have to wait one year to reapply (as if the request never was brought forward in the first place). Salkowski said the applicant can ask for dismissal. Under the 60-day rule if they take no action (dismissal would be no action), it is automatically approved. Sawatzke again asked Carlin if he wanted this dismissed without prejudice which means nothing will go on the legal record that it was denied. He could then come back in a week to reapply for anything on that property. Carlin stated that would be fine with him. Heeter wanted the applicant to know that they denied the Findings and she questioned whether the property could be rezoned. Salkowski clarified that the Board could pass a motion overturning the Planning Commission’s recommendation on rezoning the property. If Carlin withdraws the application at this point and it is dismissed by the Board, it is as if nothing ever happened. He can reapply and go through this process again. Another option would be to wait for the completion of the County’s Land Use Plan for the Northwest Quadrant. Salkowski said Carlin must make a request to withdraw the request. The Board has the option to overturn the Planning Commission recommendation on rezoning and send it back to the Planning Commission for subdivision approval. Sawatzke asked Carlen if he wanted the request dismissed without prejudice, meaning there will be nothing on the record. He would have the ability to reapply again for anything. It does not give Carlin his request but also there is nothing on the record that he is denied. Carlin said his number one option would be for the Board to overturn the recommendation on rezoning the property and to send it back to the Planning Commission as such. If that is something the Board does not want to do, then the second option would be to have the Board pass a motion without prejudice. Sawatzke and Russek withdrew the motion. Sawatzke was unsure if those that voted against the first motion would be more inclined to give approval for the entire request or if they just didn’t want to see him get denied. Mattson said he would rather support the second motion indicating that they did not want to overrule and did not want to put a negative stigma on the request. Sawatzke asked Carlin if he would be willing to accept a motion to dismiss this without prejudice. Carlin affirmed this. Sawatzke moved to make that motion, seconded by Mattson. Salkowski clarified that the motion should indicate that based upon Carlin’s request to withdraw the application, the Board dismisses the recommendation and the request without prejudice. Sawatzke said that is the intent of the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, requested that the Board schedule a Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Meeting to discuss options for the old County Highway 8 Bridge in Marysville Township. Heeter moved to set a TCOTW Meeting for 11-18-08 at 11:00 A.M. The motion was seconded by Russek. The meeting will be held at the Government Center. Mattson requested that no other items be added to this Agenda. The motion carried 5-0.
Fingalson said that on 10-14-08, the County Board took action to modify the 2009 Road/Bridge budget to reflect changes to the 2009 overlay segments in the Delano area. This change resulted in a reduction of $270,375 in the local levy. Fingalson said this amount could finance a traffic control signal at the junction of TH 25/CR 138. He has learned the intersection meets warrants for a stoplight and anticipates the situation will worsen when the Jail/LEC opens in 2009. At the Road Tour last summer, the consensus was that if the State was not willing to pay their portion the County was not interested in putting in a traffic control signal. The signal will be installed as part of the State’s TH 25 project. Fingalson projected the cost of the temporary signal to be about $200,000. With regard to overlay projects, Fingalson said the bituminous on CR 8 is thicker than anticipated so that will not be a candidate for reclaiming. The request is to maintain the $270,375 in the Road & Bridge budget. This will allow the opportunity to work with the State on installation of a signal at the TH 25/CR 138 intersection. Norman has not made the change to the budget to reduce the Road & Bridge levy by this amount. In response to Sawatzke, Fingalson said this is a 3-legged intersection and the traditional funding split with Mn/DOT would be 1/3 County and 2/3 State. Fingalson said consideration should be given to the fact that the Jail/LEC will be a major traffic generator at this location. Sawatzke said he had concern with the County preempting State action, which could result in the County funding the entire signal. If a stoplight is needed and the State agrees, he felt the official funding formula should be followed. Although Sawatzke realized that the Jail/LEC will increase traffic, he did not feel it would generate traffic like a business such as Walmart. He felt traffic may only increase by 4-5%. He was not against the light but felt it should be installed when it is properly funded. Having said that, he was not sure that the levy should be reduced by $270,000 today. He wanted to get through the Truth In Local Taxation Hearing. He had concern with earmarking funds for that project today. Russek agreed, especially since TH 25 will be torn up in 3-4 years. He felt that if traffic is bad in one year, it could be reviewed again. Fingalson said the traffic signal was used as rationale on why to keep the funding, but the signal can wait. Fingalson said the Highway Department is located at this intersection. At certain times of the day, motorists have a difficult time making left hand turns. There is also getting to be more traffic on CR 138. The intent of the request is to maintain the $270,375 in the Road & Bridge budget which will give options after the first of the year. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said the County Board should take formal action. At a previous Board Meeting, Fingalson brought forth a couple of projects that were approved resulting in a change in the levy for the Road & Bridge fund. Norman will require this information in preparation for the Truth In Local Taxation notices. Heeter moved to put the levy back to the amount reflected in the draft certified levy passed in September, seconded by Sawatzke. Norman said the Board will take final action on the Budget and Certified Levy on 12-16-08. The Truth In Local Taxation Hearing is on 12-04-08. The motion carried 5-0.
Bills Approved
Albion Township. $1,808.20
Allina Health Systems 2,198.34
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 131.05
Anoka County Sheriff 5,698.71
Daniel Anselment 153.92
AP Technology 534.00
Aramark Correctional Services 5,856.93
Gary Bonk Masonry Inc. 8,690.00
BP Amoco 2,480.81
Buffalo Hospital 11,279.59
City Buffalo 5,669.20
Business Ware Solutions 357.84
Climate Air 1,817.85
City Cokato 897.20
Consulting Radiologists Ltd 195.00
Contech Construction Product 500.00
Corinna Township 1,114.80
Cub Foods 131.34
Cummins NPower LLC 160.06
Dental Care Associates of Buffalo 418.00
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 254.22
E Central Regional Juvenile 10,945.00
Embarq 355.30
Emergency Physicians Professio 618.75
Excel Systems LLC 350.00
Farm Plan 133.87
Federal Signal Corporation 7,800.00
General Office Products Co 2,018.93
James Gerholdt 180.00
Gould Bros Chev-Olds 290.00
Granite Electronics 364.99
Hillyard Floor Care Supply 1,137.80
City Howard Lake 1,525.60
Neal Huemoeller 410.09
Interstate All Battery Center 348.17
Interstate Battery Systems of 110.65
Tracy Janikula 253.20
Michael Laurent 224.69
LexisNexis Matthew Bender 269.38
Maple Lake Township 1,672.60
Marco Inc. 4,511.57
McKesson Medical-Surgical 110.80
MN Copy Systems 149.56
MN Counties Computer Cooperati 325.00
City Montrose 61,663.71
Morries Buffalo Ford Mercury 791.11
Nextel Communications 235.27
James Niebolte 125.00
Office Depot 1,105.68
Redwood Biotech Inc. 217.25
Thomas Richards 200.00
Rockford Township 1,041.00
Schneider Corporation 4,215.00
Shell Fleet Plus 592.92
Sheriffs Youth Program of MN 3,067.88
Sprint 3,560.42
Steve O Septic 280.00
Total Printing 660.78
Twin City Labor Mgmt Council 605.00
United Parcel Service 166.02
Verizon Wireless 187.24
Water Boy 400.00
City Waverly 473.75
Wes Workman 109.95
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 48,179.61
Xcel Energy 1,473.17
26 Payments less than $100 1,614.50
Final total $215,418.28
The meeting adjourned at 10:17 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Dec. 15, 2008.