WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
FEBRUARY 23, 2010
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:05 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the 2-16-10 County Board Minutes as presented.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Russek. Eichelberg and Russek then agreed to amend the motion to include a petition by Russek to add “Joint Ditch Meeting In McLeod County” as Auditor/Treasurer Item #3. The motion carried unanimously.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: T. Fedor, Parks.
1. 2010 Tobacco License For Walgreen’s #13904 (Monticello City).
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the January Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines for approval. Hiivala referenced Page 9, Budget 100, Non-Departmental. The expenditures reflect payments for appropriations to various entities. The appropriations were paid at either 25% or 50% of the annual payment amount per previous Board direction. Hiivala referenced 01-100-6274, Wetlands Conservation ($48,323.00) and 01-100-6909, Water Management Plan ($11,083.00). Both of these amounts relate to 2010 grant funding. The 2010 budget was set up to recognize the expenditure of grant funding. Eichelberg moved to accept the January Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
A Joint Ditch Meeting will be held on 2-25-10 at 9:00 A.M. in Hutchinson. Counties involved are McLeod, Meeker, Renville, Sibley, Wright, and Blue Earth. The group meets annually to discuss Joint Ditch projects, billing, and procedures. The amended Agreement that includes Wright County will be discussed. Hiivala plans to attend. Hiivala recommended that Mattson and Russek be authorized to attend, as their Districts share Joint Ditches. Mattson is unable to attend. Eichelberg moved to authorize attendance by Russek. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried unanimously.
The claims listing was reviewed. Hiivala referenced a claim on Page 6, Wright Soil & Water Conservation District ($148,823.00), for grants for Wetland Conservation and the Water Management Plan. In the past, the County would receive the grant funding in one year and be invoiced by the SWCD the next year. Hiivala said the grant funding for 2010 was received in January and the SWCD has submitted an invoice. Hiivala supported getting caught up on pass-through grant funding. Mattson felt the County should delay the passing on of the grant funding until it is needed in an effort to draw interest on those funds. Hiivala said the SWCD did submit an invoice to the County. Russek moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 5, Mary Kenning Phd ($1,250), for a sex offender evaluation. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, felt the costs could be associated with a psychological evaluation of a person being released from prison. Mattson referenced a claim on Page 15, TW Vending ($184.70), for inmate supplies. Hiivala said the claim is to Turnkey Corrections, TW Vending Inc., and is for such items as jail indigent fees for soap, shampoo, envelopes, toothpaste, etc. However, the claim is coded to Operating Supplies instead of Canteen in the Corrections Budget. Mattson will follow up with the Jail for more clarification. Hiivala said if the purchase is Canteen related it should be funded from the Canteen line item. The motion to approve the claims carried 5-0.
A Deferred Compensation Committee Meeting was held on 2-16-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, the following correction was made to the minutes: Page 1, move “Bob Hiivala and Brian Asleson” from “Others Present” to “Members Present” (Norman). Norman noted that although County Attorney Tom Kelly is the Committee appointment from the Attorney’s Office, Brian Asleson is the person who attends the meetings. It was the consensus that the Committee listing should be changed to include the Auditor/Treasurer and Chief Deputy Attorney as appointments to the Deferred Compensation Committee. Sawatzke stated that with regard to what took place at the Committee level, the Committee decided to take no action on Kruse’s request. They indicated that Kruse can still look for participants and can approach the Committee at some point in the future if the minimum number of enrollees is met. The Committee did recommend to meet again in April for a general overview of the County’s 457 Plan and offerings. Hiivala clarified that Wright County has one Deferred Compensation Plan and five providers. Sawatzke moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, noting the corrections, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0:
I. UPDATE, EDWARD JONES INVESTMENTS 457 PLAN.
Norman provided a summary of the Deferred Compensation Meeting that was held on 8-26-09. He stated that Chris Kruse attended the meeting to introduce the Edward Jones deferred compensation plan. At that time, the County had 25% of its employees participating in the County’s 457 Plan. The recommendation from the Committee was approved at the 9-01-09 County Board Meeting. The recommendation, upon an acceptable review by Asleson, was to authorize Edward Jones to be offered to employees. The approval of the Edward Jones Plan is contingent upon meeting the minimum requirement of 20 new enrollees by 2-28-10. If 20 new enrollees are met before 2-28-10, the Plan can start the following month. Kruse stated that he has 16 enrollees with just over a week until the deadline. He stated that he will be out of town and will be unable to achieve the minimum requirement. He asked if the Committee would consider granting him additional time. He also asked if he could get a list of employee names, phone numbers, and addresses. Norman stated that this is private data. Norman asked Kruse if he has attempted to make himself available over the noon hour in the Government Center to meet with potential new enrollees. Kruse stated no. Norman proposed that Kruse distribute flyers in the County facilities lunchrooms. Sawatzke asked whether the County’s Deferred Compensation Plan has a plan year starting date of March 1st. Brown stated no. Deferred compensation plans do not have plan years. The March 1st date is the beginning plan date for the County’s Health/Dental and flexible spending account plans. Sawatzke asked whether the Committee would consider allowing Kruse until the following February, 2011, to achieve the minimum requirement. If Kruse were to acquire his enrollees prior to that date, he could potentially petition starting the plan the following month. Asleson stated that it is up to the Committee to determine the qualifications. Norman noted that all deferred compensation vendors were able to introduce themselves to County employees at the Benefits Fair. Norman referred to the County Board Minutes from 7-29-03, 10-07-03, 10-28-03, and 8-10-04, that all indicate that a vendor must meet a February deadline to be considered an authorized deferred compensation plan provider for the County. Brown stated that she is concerned that the County may have too many vendors. The County currently has five providers. She asked what the motivation is for bringing in additional deferred compensation vendors. She suggested that perhaps the County should be determining the best providers for its employees. She proposed using qualifications such as fees and services as a measurement when comparing vendors. Sawatzke stated that he has a concern about the County making decisions such as this. He stated that the County’s role is to provide its employees an opportunity to take money out of their checks and putting it into a retirement plan that meets IRS requirements. Kruse stated that he would be cautious of the “hands off approach”. He stated that the County should be doing its due diligence in providing reputable vendors for its employees. He stated that currently, the only due diligence the County practices is requiring vendors to find 20 new enrollees. Thelen stated that an employee’s enrollment in a 457 plan is strictly voluntary. Kruse stated that in the business world, companies would review plans, options, and vendors. Companies practice due diligence while investigating the best provider for its employees. Brown stated that she can agree with Kruse’s viewpoint. She stated that it is her opinion that employees are purchasing a 457 plan because they feel as if the County has endorsed the vendor/plan. Sawatzke noted that the County is meeting IRS rules regarding 457 plans. Kruse stated that the IRS language regarding 457 plans has nothing to do with the plan or vendor. The language discusses the tax rules on how to administer 457 plans. He noted that the County has approved deferred compensation vendors that strictly offer annuity and insurance plans. Edward Jones would offer a mutual fund option. He stated that the average cost for an annuity is 3%. The average cost for a mutual fund plan is 1%. He stated that Edward Jones acts as an architect. They can mold a plan for an employee to fit their needs. Edward Jones can offer mutual fund plans that do not have any surrender charges and are completely liquid. Thelen asked if an employee receives guidance when selecting a County approved vendor. Brown stated that the Personnel Office has packets of information from each vendor. Norman stated that the Personnel Office does not have the internal expertise to develop a matrix regarding the options, benefits, fees for each vendor. Brown stated that it is her opinion that the more vendors the County has, the less enthusiasm there is for contributing to a 457 plan. She stated that she thinks the employees are confused. Norman stated that the County currently has 179 participants in a 457 plan. Kruse asked whether the minimum amount of 20 enrollees could be dropped to 15. Sawatzke stated that by requiring a vendor to find 20 enrollees, it is ensuring that an additional 5% of the County’s employees are looking out for their retirement future. The County wants to entice more persons to be retirement ready. Brown stated that she does not believe all 179 employees are “active” in their County sponsored Deferred Compensation Plan. Hiivala stated that the Auditor’s Office is able to provide a list of active and non-active employees. Kruse stated that it is his opinion that the County should have only two vendors. This would decrease the work load for the Personnel Department. He noted that existing plans would stay as is; however, new enrollees would be required to contribute in an approved vendor’s plan. Brown stated that having multiple deferred compensation providers can make more work for the Personnel Office. She stated that the County needs to consider whether having multiple vendors is for the benefit of the employees, or the benefit of the vendor. Brown stated that the employees seem to be apathetic. Thelen asked whether Brown thinks employees are not joining a 457 plan because there are too many choices, or if the cost to join a plan is too high. Brown stated that she does not know the answer but would suspect it is a little of both. Thelen asked Brown if she is proposing that the County limit, or decrease, the number of County approved vendors. Brown responded that she does not want to see more vendors added. She stated that there is a vendor that currently has less than ten participants and would propose eliminating that vendor as an approved vendor of the County. Norman stated that he would propose not allowing new enrollees in a plan that has less than 10 participants. Hiivala questioned whether it is the County’s fiduciary responsibility to determine the best deferred compensation plan providers for its employees. Hiivala asked Asleson if a deferred compensation plan must meet certain requirements. Asleson stated that the language is very general and only discusses tax regulations that a 457 plan must meet. Brown asked Kruse if he would be the only representative from Edward Jones that County employees could work with. Kruse stated that any Edward Jones representative could be an administrator. Kruse would be the contact person for the County. Kruse stated that it was his observation that segregating the deferred compensation vendors in a separate room at the Benefits Fair was not successful. Brown explained that there are so many vendors involved in the Benefits Fair that it has become impossible to put everyone in one room. Thelen stated that it appears that the County Board has set a precedent, but not a policy, regarding its Deferred Compensation vendors. Sawatzke stated that it is his opinion that the County has a policy. Brown stated that vendors used to reserve conference rooms to meet with employees. But this does not seem to work anymore. Norman stated that perhaps families’ financial situations are restricted and setting aside funds for a deferred compensation plan may be difficult. Sawatzke asked if the Committee should meet again to discuss whether the County should change its method for selecting 457 plan providers. Thelen stated that she would be in favor of this. He suggested that the Committee could discuss the level of response from County employees regarding this benefit. He asked whether Hiivala could provide a list of employees enrolled in a County endorsed Deferred Compensation Plan, the “active” enrollees, and a list of the contribution levels. Thelen stated that she would be in favor of granting Kruse more time to acquire additional enrollees. She asked if there is any reason for the February deadline since the Deferred Compensation Plan is not dependent on the benefit year. Norman stated that the deadline was a precedent. He stated that he would be concerned about the fairness of extending Kruse’s deadline when other vendors have been held to the same deadline. Sawatzke stated that Kruse could have an additional 12 months to acquire four more enrollees. Thelen stated that she would be in favor of this. Sawatzke proposed that Kruse could petition the Committee to allow him to start the month following his acquisition of 20 new enrollees. Kruse asked the Committee what he should tell his potential enrollees. Sawatzke stated that he should tell the potential enrollees that he is hopeful that the County would allow him to start them in a plan prior to March 1st of next year. Hiivala asked Kruse if he is a vendor for any other County. Kruse stated no. He stated that they are a representative for some school systems. Hiivala noted that if Edward Jones were to become an authorized vendor, they would have to assume the 1099Rs. Kruse stated that Edward Jones would assume this responsibility. RECOMMENDATION: The Committee will meet on 4-14-10 for a general overview of the County’s 457 Plan and offerings.
(End of 2-16-10 Deferred Compensation Committee Minutes & discussion)
Thelen requested authorization to submit a letter on behalf of the County Board to the Office of Energy Security regarding the CAP X 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Thelen said her research will continue and the final letter may include the following concerns as well as any other deficiencies of the EIS. The following was provided as a draft of the information to be contained in the letter (not the final version):
Authorization to submit a letter on behalf of the Wright County Board to the Office of Energy Security regarding the DEIS
Public comment period for CAP X 2020 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will be closed Feb. 26. I am requesting board approval to submit a letter on behalf of the board which addresses some of the issues that are of concern to the county and its residents. This is not a final draft. I require additional time to further research and articulate the deficiencies of the EIS in consultation with citizens and others with expertise in EIS processes and content. This is also to put the Board on notice that comments in the routing case are due March 19, 2010, and that the Public Hearing and beginning of Evidentiary Hearing is March 8 at Clearwater Township Hall, and the Evidentiary Hearing is continued in St. Paul beginning March 9 with time reserved through March 12, 2010 if necessary.
The County, as the local governmental unit with primary land-use oversight, has a strong interest in this transmission line and its impacts.
1. Overarching is the EIS fails to present the information clearly, thoroughly or equitably. It leaves big gaping holes from a liability perspective for all governmental entities with jurisdiction in the affected areas and which have to issue permits along the route.
2. There needs to be a more thorough review of the impacts and subsequent mitigation required. Without sufficient treatment of these, Wright County may end up footing the bill for mitigation expenses down the road or left with unmitigated damage.
3. An EIS, under state rules, is supposed to address the impacts and the mitigation required to address these. Federal and State Statutes and rules govern their format and process. Throughout this DEIS, the impact is vaguely expressed and consistently underrepresented; it is suggested within that permanent impact is minimal and hence mitigation not required.
4. There are numerous specific permanent impacts not covered in the DEIS. A sampling:
Great River Road / National Scenic Byway; where the EIS states there is no permanent impact. The GRR has been designated as a federal National Scenic Byway (NSB)...The NSB grants program has pumped over $14 million in grants into Minnesota...A NSB can be “undesignated” if it loses the attributes that made it eligible in the first place. A high voltage transmission line traversing the Byway, the viewshed and the river could trigger loss of designation....NSB’s also attract tourist dollars.92% of tourist travelers are attracted by the scenery...There may also be wider impacts -- if you put one segment of Minnesota’s NSB at risk, you may risk the continuity of the entire 500+ mile system. That is a potential socioeconomic impact with a clear $14 million loss.(potential economic impact)
•Vegetation removal 150 ft wide right next to the GRR is a permanent impact.
•The Mississippi is a bird flyway, with potential to impact birds migrating through the area.
Under-estimate of the impact of the poles. In a discussion with MN Dot:
DEIS says there is 55 sq ft of impact/ pole. To have this level of impact the poles themselves would have to be 8 ft wide or less, which is not the case.. The diameter of the poles sated in the EIS is is 12 ft, needing 25 feet of perimeter around the poles for utility vehicles to work from. If the poles are on a slope they would need to be graded flat; if on surfaces that can’t support the poles, would need to strip the existing material and fill with more stable grade. The impact should also be measured in number of feet needed to work equipment around the pole, and loss of useable agricultural land.
• In the Hasty area on the preferred route, every time the route approaches a property that would be impacted, it jumps across the freeway, so that they can avoid that particular property or home. In this way they suggest there is no impact. Just because they aren’t purchasing a property or ROW, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an impact on that homeowner. The DOT’s Policy of Accomodation may not permit this frequent crossing.
• Also, at Hasty area it crisscrosses 6 times, this limits future development and future highway construction, again, affecting the county’s interests in future development and the DOT Policy of Accommodation.; If you stay on one side or the other the County and communities along the route have more options, but Cap X main concern is to avoid the cost of additional property acquisition. That is a socioeconomic cost that must be considered in the EIS.
• Regarding concerns for the viewshed, DEIS suggests minimal issues along 94 because people are driving by; doesn’t consider the fact that people live there and also recreate in the lakes and river and would have the poles in the viewshed where the highway is near the river.
5. Concern that the public testimony that was given throughout at the various public meetings and hearing are not represented in the DEIS. An EIS should include and analyze these comments. While comments are part of the public record for the EIS, these comments are not included in the EIS and will not become part of the record in the concurrent routing proceeding. For these comments to have any impact, it will require the unlikely event that the Administrative Law Judge who will make a final recommendation to the Department of Commerce will review 400+ pages of testimony without analysis.
The following issues were raised publicly and in comments and were not included in the review of the EIS:
• Task Force provided specific problems associated with the various routes, and these were not addressed. These types of problems must be raised in the EIS to be taken into account in the routing process. Otherwise, routing problems will arise late in the routing docket and the impacts will not be given attention until very late. Altering the route late in the process means that affected landowners or additional impacts may not be noticed until after there is any ability to provide comments about the alterations.
• Federal Highway Administration expression of major concerns about the impact to Great River Road and Scenic Byway. This Comment must also be specifically brought into the routing docket before the judge.
• City, township, and County Government reps who participated in the task force meetings this summer provided concerns re the various routes as part of a homework assignment before the meetings began. As above, these types of problems must be raised in the EIS to be taken into account in the routing process. Otherwise, routing problems will arise late in the routing docket and the impacts will not be given attention until very late. Altering the route late in the process means that affected landowners or additional impacts may not be noticed until after there is any ability to provide comments about the alterations.
• MN DOT submitted an 8 page letter at Task Force meeting. Issues raised included failure to include federal agencies in the process, naming many federal agencies with varying levels of jurisdiction; that the EIS may not meet NEPA requirements; a detailed discussion of impacts on State and National Scenic Byways; rest areas, rail corridors, airports, weather, maintenance, permits, safety impacts, economic impacts. This Comment must also be specifically brought into the routing docket before the judge.
• The DNR succinctly noted that the EIS should include specifically threatened and endangered species and impacts and identification of mitigation measures and that the EIS should identify and assess effects and mitigation in areas of the corridors.
• Results of work done at 2 TF meetings where the group listed and prioritized concerns must be included. A review of the routing docket online at Public Utilities Commission website does not show that the Task Force Repot has been filed.;
• Concerns raised by the City of Clearwater regarding impacts on water supplies, commercial and residential development
• Silver Creek’s plans for future development of the 94 interchange at Hasty not included;
• The DEIS did not include the extent of the impact to homeowners along hwy 24 and the county roads through in Silver Creek and Clearwater townships.
• St. Augusta, Waite Park and St. Cloud raised concerns about the route interfering with future development plans
• Residents along alternate routes that utilize 24 were represented en masse to discuss the additional loss of their yards (lost a bit after 24 was enlarged)
6. Task Force suggested a route that took advantage of existing transmission corridors which might reduce impact, because the row is already there, the impact already felt and need for mitigation lessened . Route D (Sherburne Co) has to be considered equally in the EIS. However because the impact is insufficiently addressed, without details, it is hard to differentiate one from the other. They are all presented as fairly benign.
• The task force was under the impression that Sherburne County would be given a process to provide input but only the direct homeowners were informed. This created huge resistance among Sherburne County residents and board who didn’t feel they received a fair process (rightfully so).
• Wright County also did not receive sufficient notice of participation options, including intervention. The intervention deadline was January 22, 2010, and not one party intervened.
• There is no documented need for redundancy. Cap X raises the issue of redundancy as a reason for a new line, and as a reason it is opposed to using existing corridors as in Route D). However they will not provide reliable information regarding how many times a line goes down. When pressed Cap X state that it happens about once in three years. This information must be presented in the EIS and the alternative must be considered.
• Weather patterns, an issue raised at the public hearing, were not considered in the DEIS as a factor to consider re: placement.
7. The overall cumulative impact of the line is not addressed. This is part of the route between Fargo and St. Cloud, segmented, and should not be analyzed independently. Also, this Fargo to Monticello route is part of a much larger “CapX 2020 Phase I” which received its Certificate of Need as one project.
8. Health impacts were not addressed, such as electromagnetic fields, stray voltage, mercury, etc.
9. Many of the sources of information, data, research listed in the appendices are outdated, some are 30-40 years old.
10. There was a lack of information provided at the DEIS Public meeting on Feb. 9... no maps, no visual aids, no copies of the DEIS, etc., This has me scrambling to answer and tabulate the concerns of the residents of Wright County that need to be addressed in my comments.
11. There was no meaningful process which would have provided County agencies with expertise to weigh in on the impact, such as Soil and Water, Planning and Zoning, Transportation and others.
12. This list is not all inclusive there are additional specific issues that should be submitted as comments and brought to the attention of the Administrative Law Judge.
(End of handout supplied by Thelen on CAP X 2020)
Thelen said the deadline for public input on the DEIS is 2-26-10. Thelen provided a summary of the draft. She referenced Item 1 and said one of the concerns is the draft EIS looks like a summary. She said according to statutes and rules, there should be a more thorough treatment of the issues. She asked Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, to review the Statutes or rules that may apply when the Office of Energy put together this type of draft EIS. Asleson stated that he reviewed State rules. The initial question by Thelen was whether the review should be done by NEPA (National regulations) as opposed to State regulations because the transmission line runs from Monticello to Fargo. The transmission line has been broken into segments for review purposes and what is being addressed today is the piece of the line from Monticello to St. Cloud. Asleson said the Federal regulations were hard to understand. There is authority in State rules for the Public Utilities Commission to be the RGU on this revision. The status is that there is a draft EIS out for review and public comment is being taken. A hearing will occur before an Administrative Law Judge. The Office of Energy Security will then incorporate all comments and make responses to those comments. A final EIS document will be the outcome. The Public Utilities Commission passes on whether the EIS is adequate. There is authority to take that away. The State regulations for power plants and transmission lines remove it from the Environmental Quality Board and give it to the Public Utilities Commission. Asleson referenced a Statute in Chapter 216E relating to interstate routes. It says that for a route that is proposed in two or more states, the Public Utilities Commission may make joint investigations with other states and may negotiate things with other states. Asleson said the language is not clear but he did not find language reflecting that the State is doing something wrong by handling this in the fashion they are. He said Commissioner Thelen has more substantive concerns about the draft EIS. Asleson has not reviewed the draft EIS so he did not feel he could speak to the substance of that document.
Thelen felt that throughout the EIS, the impact of the lines is under represented on all the various routes. She felt that any mitigation required would then be minimized based on this under representation. This was a concern of many that reviewed the EIS. Thelen referenced Item #1, which reads in part, “It leaves big gaping holes from a liability perspective for all governmental entities with jurisdiction in the affected areas and which have to issue permits along the route.” Thelen said they do not list what route permits need to be issued, and there is very little detail about each step of the way. She stated Wright County could be responsible for mitigation expenses or left with unmitigated damage in the future. Thelen referenced Item #3, “An EIS, under State rules, is supposed to address the impacts and the mitigation required to address these. Federal and State Statutes and rules govern their format and process.” Thelen attended all of the hearings that have been sponsored by the Office of Energy Security and was part of a Task Force of government entities along the route. She said people have been raising concerns through the entire process. Thelen understands that an effective EIS would have these concerns included in the body and there would be substantive discussion of the issues raised. The comments that came forth cannot be found in the EIS but they are part of the public record. The Administrative Law Judge will take testimony on 3-08-10 at the Clearwater Township Hall and written testimony until 3-19-10. The Judge will then have to review 400 pages of documents to determine which issues should be brought forward. Thelen said with the drafting of a letter from the County Board, part of what will happen is that the insufficiencies within the document will be placed into the record and will rise to the level of some importance. Thelen referenced Item 4 and some of the impacts listed. She said the Great River Road issue concerns them as this is a County road, and the County could stand to lose out on grants in the future because of the power poles. The viewshed being interfered with could trigger loss of designation. It will require removal of 100’ wide area of vegetation and she said this is a permanent impact. Thelen stated this is a bird flyway. This is not reflected in the EIS and people feel it should be included. Thelen was in contact with MnDOT on the under estimation of the impact of power poles. It is suggested there will be a 55’ sq. ft. impact per pole. She was unsure how this figure was arrived at. She understands that in order to have a 55’ impact, the pole would have to be less than 8’ wide. The poles are 12’ wide.
Mattson stated he has part of a transmission line running through his farm. Vegetation is not removed. Spraying is completed under the poles and the utility company has the right to drive from pole to pole. They do complete fly overs and inspections. The land can be farmed under the line. Mattson questioned whether the same language is being used in this document as was used for the other transmission line. Thelen was unsure. She also talked with MnDOT because the EIS does not list the kinds of impacts which will occur when poles are placed on a slope. An example is Highway 24, which has a steep slope on one side of the road. On the other side, home owners have already lost a lot of land due to the expansion of the road. There is also a wetland involved. The road will need to be graded even and new material will be provided for a more stable foundation. This information is not included in the EIS. Thelen felt in a very thorough EIS, a pole-by-pole impact would need to be completed. She felt this was nearly impossible. There is only one year to complete this process so they have their own constraints. They will also need a 25’ platform around each pole for utility vehicles. Right now, they have to access the poles from an existing road, as the material between the road and the poles may not be sufficient to hold the vehicles. Existing material will be mined and replaced with firmer material. She questioned where this is represented in the document. She referenced the Hasty area and said there is no documentation of the commercial impact. The Silver Creek Township Board testified at numerous occasions that they want to develop into commercial the intersection of I-94 and Highway 8 at Hasty. This is not included in the EIS. Thelen said the other thing that happens in that area is that every time they approach a property, they zig-zag across the highway. That way they can say the impact is minimal and they do not have to purchase a particular property.
Thelen said it has taken her some time to review the document and discuss things with those that have a trained eye. The Task Force met three times and was charged with suggesting an alternative. The Task Force came up with the idea of using existing corridors, which just happen to be on the Sherburne County side of the Mississippi River. They heard from various people presenting at the public hearings that the impact could be lessened by using existing corridors. It was learned there is the need for a whole new line for redundancy purposes. That way if there is an event and one line goes down, they will still have another line up and running. She said it is hard to get information from the Office of Energy Security on what the redundancy need is. MnDOT said that CAP X’s need for redundancy might speak to the County’s need. Thelen said if there is a huge problem with the lines coming down, they want to know if they would be falling on the freeway. All they came up with in the end is that maybe once in three years they come down. She said MnDOT is wondering if there is a redundancy need and whether it justifies a whole new line. The Task Force felt Sherburne County would be notified about the ideas they had for their County but they were not. Sherburne County learned of this when it was written into the draft EIS and the homeowners that were directly impacted were notified. The Sherburne County Board submitted a letter and it will be part of the draft EIS. Mattson said that wildlife has not been affected because of the transmission line through his property. He has not seen any evidence of concern from his view and has not heard of any. Mattson said there was a lot of resistance against the line initially. He felt this older line could be used for comparison purposes. Thelen said this is the opportunity to make the DEIS a stronger document. Thelen referenced the document and said she was unaware of a meaningful opportunity for Planning & Zoning, Highway, or the SWCD to be involved in the process. Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, indicated he has received emails and bulletins on the project. He has not studied the project in depth as the Public Utilities Commission is in charge of permitting. He said they have not put a lot of time into it but said they were aware of the project. Thelen said she wanted authorization to send a letter to the Office of Energy Security by 2-26-10 commenting on the draft EIS as the Board’s designee to the Task Force, including the type of comments outlined in the handout, although that is not all-inclusive. It would be to put in writing what Wright County’s comments are. Sawatzke moved to authorize Thelen to write a letter commenting on the draft EIS as the Board’s designee to the Task Force. The letter will be written on behalf of the Board, indicating comments consistent with those in the four-page document Thelen distributed. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Mattson said there is an existing power line that has shown that fears were not substantiated. Thelen said it is not her goal to stop the project. She felt there should be fair, thorough, and equitable treatment about the best location for the line and the particular impacts that need to be mitigated. This is because of the potential liability and additional costs down the road. Sawatzke has seen swans fly into the power lines in Monticello. He said power lines next to bodies of water (like the Mississippi River) are not always the best thing, as migratory birds do not always see them. Mattson has not seen this problem on his property. Rose provided an example of a mitigation procedure. If there is a County road with a pole next to it and it is not documented, there may be an impact because of commercial development or access to the freeway. She said this is a growth corridor. It will cost $250,000 to move one pole and that would be at the County’s expense. The cost of the project is $95 million for 28 miles. The motion carried 5-0.
The Highway Department submitted the annual resolution relating to spring road restrictions. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #10-12, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote:
WHEREAS, Minnesota Statutes 169.87 provides local authorities, with respect to highways under their jurisdiction, for seasonal load restrictions, and
WHEREAS, Minnesota Statutes 162.2 subd. 3, the County Board, or the County Engineer if so authorized by the board, may impose weight and load restrictions on any highway under its jurisdiction,
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the County Highway Engineer be authorized to place seasonal load restrictions on County State Aid Highways and County Roads within Wright County, and also,
BE IT RESOLVED, that the gross weight on any axle on any vehicle or trailer, shall not exceed the posted limit, and also,
BE IT RESOLVED, that load limitations will go into effect when the signs are erected and will remain in effect until the signs are removed. The timing of road postings, which is dependent on weather conditions, will be determined by the County Highway Engineer.
(End of Resolution 10-12)
Allina Hospitals and Clinics. $9,532.38
Allina Hospitals & Clinics Sp 153.87
Allina Medical 199.41
American Institutional Supply 371.25
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 275.39
Aramark Correctional Services 13,126.40
Arrow Terminal LLC 391.72
Automatic Garage Door & Firepl 125.00
Bjorklund Trust/Harold E. 5,145.50
Bjorklund/Bruce a. 5,145.50
Boyer Truck Parts 751.43
Buffalo Clinic 252.41
Buffalo Community Education 135.00
Center Point Energy 4,840.66
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 13,185.31
Central McGowan Inc. 118.25
CIT Information Services 242.00
Civic Research Institute Inc. 179.96
Climate Air 4,255.45
Collins Brothers Towing 147.91
Cub Pharmacy 4,576.09
Dakota Co. Technical College 180.00
Dell Marketing LP 143.15
Department of Public Safety 100.00
Dustcoating Inc. 7,041.73
Efilliate Incorporated 210.76
Elk River Ford 43,904.72
Emergency Physicians PA 625.22
Force America Inc. 452.94
Forestry Suppliers Inc. 2,071.53
General Office Products Co. 540.91
Gilson Company Inc. 473.61
Gopher State One Call 121.75
Hance Utility Services Inc. 461.97
Hardings Towing Inc. 133.59
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 3,608.78
Husky Spring 200.09
Interstate Battery Systems 306.36
Jerrys Towing & Repair 138.88
Junction Towing & Auto Repair 148.56
Karns Services Inc. 23,400.00
Kenning Phd/Mary 1,250.00
Klein Heating and Cooling 276.00
Larson Allen LLP 2,000.00
Lawson Products Inc. 1,613.74
Lee/Steven J. 556.00
Lewis-Goetz And Company 243.09
Lostetter/Carol H. 300.00
Lundeen Brothers Inc. 238.69
M-R Sign Company Inc. 1,674.20
Marco Inc. 1,276.37
McLeod County Treasurer 581.18
Miller/Gary Leo 453.00
MN CLE Inc. 335.08
MN Sheriffs Association 225.00
Morries Parts & Service Group 2,339.79
North American Salt Co. 49,378.43
Office Depot 1,863.26
Olson/Eldon A. 2,194.00
Otsego/City of 114.13
Positron Public Safety Systems 4,051.00
Richards/Thomas W. 100.00
Russell Security Resource Inc. 386.14
Ryan Chevrolet 259.60
Schneider Corporation 1,500.00
State Supply Co. 362.39
State Wide Protective Agen 1,218.38
Sumption/William R. 7,589.00
TDS Telecom 264.62
Toms Towing Service 122.47
Total Printing 395.49
TW Vending Inc. 184.70
Twin City Hardware Inc. 286.43
Uniforms Unlimited 286.95
Walker Trucking/C 3,660.00
Waverly/City of 470.65
Wells Fargo Bank Na 150.00
Wildlife Science Center 293.12
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 1,918.41
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec. 752.78
Wright Hennepin Electric 303.18
Wright Soil & Water Cons. 148,823.00
23 Payments less than $100 1,176.42
Final total $394,202.91
The meeting adjourned at 9:48 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal March 15, 2010.