Wright County Board Minutes

JUNE 22, 2010
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
The minutes of 6-15-10 were corrected as follows: Page 6, 1st paragraph, 8th line, sentence should read, “She felt the cost of not doing the Study was almost unfathomable – the cost environmentally, to people and the lost dollars in terms of lost productivity due to the time spent idling in traffic congestion” (Thelen). Thelen moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
Russek moved to approve the Agenda. Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, requested that the following item be accepted to the Agenda: Consent Agenda Item B3, “Renewal Of Combination On/Off Sale Liquor License For Up The Creek Bar & Grill (Silver Creek Twp.)”. Thelen petitioned the following as Item For Consid. #2, 2010 MN Waters Lake Association of the Year Award, Sugar Lake.” Russek said the motion includes the petition of the Consent item. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke and carried unanimously.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: S. Backes, B. Petersen, Admin.; A. Buskey, Bldg, Care; J. Borrett, M. Janzen, Assr.; A. Harvey, P. Kaskinen, D. Maurer, P. Thompson, T. Vaith, Aud./Treas.; T. Decker, R. Erickson, J. Russell, Hwy.; J. Ashley, C. Nalezny, Sher./Corr.; R. Babler, Surv.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 6-11-10.
3. Voluntary Leave Without Pay Annual Report, 2009.
1. Renewal Of 3.2 Malt Liquor License For Woodland Hill Winery (Franklin Twp.). & Cokato Town & Country Club (Cokato Twp.).
2. Renewal Of On Sale Liquor License For Norm’s Wayside (Rockford Twp.).
3. Renewal Of Combination On/Off Sale Liquor License For Up The Creek Bar & Grill (Silver Creek Twp.).
1. Refer To Personnel Committee Discussion On Salary Range For Jail Captain Position.
2. Authorize Signatures Of Board Chair, County Coordinator, & Sheriff On The Supplemental Federal Boating Safety Supplemental Grant Agreement.
Hiivala brought forth a request for a drop box for License Bureau transactions. The License Bureau is losing revenues on license tab renewals to the State ($4.50/transaction). The State offers renewal through the mail. A survey of the surrounding area was conducted and it was found that some counties are offering a drop box or mail-in service. Hiivala would look to add the drop box and advertise that the renewal form can be mailed to the County. Russek moved to approve the request, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Hiivala previously distributed the May Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines. Russek moved to approve the Guidelines, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Russek, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Joe Jacobs, SWCD Water Resource Specialist, requested approval of a resolution authorizing a 5-year update to the Water Management Plan. An update to the Plan will consist of completing various action items and objectives, and updating the Plan. Sawatzke said that items are often phased in with a Plan. He inquired whether there was anything significant on the horizon that was being phased in over the next 1-2 years. Jacobs said that in the Plan written five years ago, there were a number of projects listed including the drafting of ordinances. That process is near completion. The staff of the SWCD and Water Management will be speaking with the County Board on the potential of the new ordinances relating to water management issues. Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution 10-26, seconded by Russek, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
Richard Norman, County Coordinator, presented a retirement plaque to Larry Unger, Wright County Recorder for his dedicated service from 2001-2010. Unger was hired as Recorder in February, 2001. In October, 2001, the position moved from elected to appointed. Norman said Unger has been a great asset to the Recorder’s Office and Wright County as an organization. He cited Unger’s level of professionalism, integrity and ethics. Unger said the years have gone by quickly. The position offered him the opportunity to work with great Department Heads and numerous other employees. He felt Wright County can be proud of the dedicated employees and extended appreciation to his staff. He thanked the County Board for their confidence and respect in allowing him to do his job. The Board members extended appreciation to Unger and wished him well in his retirement.
Gary Miller, Sheriff, presented a retirement plaque to Capt. Gary Torfin, Jail Administrator, for dedicated service from 1980-2010, including acknowledgement of the completion of 30 years of service to the County. Torfin was hired in February, 1980 as a Patrol Deputy and promoted to Jail Sergeant in 1989. Torfin was intricately involved in the construction of the jail in 1991 and was promoted to Jail Administrator as Lieutenant that same year. He was subsequently promoted to Jail Administrator as Captain and that is his current position. Capt. Torfin was involved for ten years in the planning and construction of the new Jail/LEC. That project came in on time and under budget. It is a state-of-the art facility and is safe and secure. Miller felt Torfin deserves the majority of the credit. Torfin was the recipient of the 2010 Individual Achievement Award presented by the County. Miller felt the citizens and inmates of Wright County have been served well through his leadership. The new jail is staffed by professionals who take pride in their work and Miller felt this stemmed from Torfin’s leadership. Torfin said he has the distinct privilege to have worked for three really great Sheriffs. He was hired at a time when he did not bring many qualifications to the job and was fortunate to be mentored and promoted. He said he owed a debt of gratitude to Sheriff Wolff, Sheriff Hozempa, and Sheriff Miller. He was pleasantly surprised to be given the latitude to help with the design and construction of the new Jail/LEC. Torfin said there is a very significant social aspect to work and stated he would miss everyone. The County Board members extended appreciation to Torfin for his years of service and wished him well in his retirement.
Tom Kelly, County Attorney, presented a retirement plaque to Tom Zins, Assistant County Attorney III, for his dedicated service from 1988-2010. Kelly said that Zins is a great employee and person. Zins provided service to the Attorney’s Office and citizens in an outstanding fashion. He could always be depended upon to do the job and do it correctly. Kelly said when he hires staff, he looks for people skills and attitude. He felt Zins had both. Brian Asleson, Chief Deputy Attorney, said the Attorney’s Office has retained the same Civil Division for 20+ years. With their years of service, they were able to divide up the work in that Division based on expertise. Zins works a lot with preventive law (preventing the County from being sued). A lot of his work has been with the Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment, and Planning and Zoning. When the County has been sued, Zins either defended the lawsuit or assisted MCIT counsel. Asleson said he will miss their discussions on civil strategies. Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, referenced Zin’s dedication, loyalty, and Christian values that are unsurpassed. Salkowski appreciated the time Zins spent coaching on Planning and Zoning issues. That type of guidance will be missed. Salkowski said Zins has done an unbelievable amount of work in preventive law which no one sees and is rarely appreciated, except by those few people that benefit directly. Zins said he has enjoyed his time in Wright County and the terrific people he has worked with. They are reasonable and make sound judgments. He said the County Board has exercised superior judgment, particularly in the areas of his responsibility. There have been some tough decisions made in the areas of land use and planning. The Planning Commission has done a remarkable job for the County. He said the SWCD has done a terrific job on trying to do the right thing as it pertains to soil and water issues. Zins extended appreciation to the staff members he has worked with in the Attorney’s Office, Human Services, and Planning and Zoning. The Board extended thanks to Zins for his years of service and wished him well in his retirement.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, presented the 6-08-10 Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Minutes. Listed below are the minutes. Discussion which occurred at today’s County Board Meeting follows the Minutes:
I. Funding Request from City of Albertville (Funding Task Force Report)
Fingalson explained that Eichelberg, Sawatzke, Hawkins, and he were members of the Funding Task Force along with representatives of Albertville that met to discuss and discover possible funding needs and sources for the proposed improvements to the I-94/CSAH37/CSAH 19 interchange. Klecker presented and read a letter from the City of Albertville to the TCOTW Committee *Attachment 1+ expressing the city’s appreciation of its partnership with Wright County and requesting funding assistance ($2 million) for the construction of the aforementioned intersection improvements. Nafstad then referred to a handout [Attachment 2] and said that there were two important issues to address.
A. Can this project be smaller, can we do it for less, are there areas where we can cut back and get essentially the same results for less money? Nafstad said that many studies and a lot of research have been done to reach this final design stage. Initially, the addition of a single ramp was considered, but neither the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) nor Mn/DOT would accept that design. Through access reports and traffic studies, they determined that there must be an elongated ramp, a decision that was based on spacing requirements and also on very detailed traffic modeling and a review of freeway operations. According to Terry Humbert of Mn/DOT, a shorter ramp is neither desirable nor acceptable. There is reason, design, and a high level of engineering behind the layout in this final design. There was also consideration to try and keep the costs down by having something other than the expensive retaining wall that is included in the plan, but according to the results of the environmental study, this wall is required. Word was received from the state last week, and they said that this is the law and practice; and if it is possible to avoid impact to the lakes and wetlands, then that must be avoided. The project would not be approved without this retaining wall.
B. What is the value of this $10 million project? Nafstad said that the public would benefit from this project in several different ways, including reduced congestion, reduced travel delay, improved freeway access, and improved safety. Albertville did a benefit cost analysis of user benefits (vehicle operations, travel time, and miles traveled) and put a dollar value to them over a 20-year time period. This analysis did not include the safety benefit component. The benefit cost ratio came out to be about five (5), and anything over one (1) is considered good. This is an extremely high benefit cost with user benefits of more than $51 million. After improvements are made, the benefit dollars would exceed the cost of the project before year six. Fingalson commented that this was a good summary, and the high benefit cost ratio would definitely be another good outcome to this improvement.
Nafstad said that the assessments to property owners would be a key funding source for Albertville, and the appraisals that were done on the properties have shown that this process would be beneficial to property values as well, and this information will be shared with the property owners. Fingalson said that it was very beneficial to have present at the last Funding Task Force meeting, Bill Waytas of Nagell Appraisal as well as Greg Kramber and Tony Rasmuson of the Assessor’s office. Russek asked if the future expansion of I-94 had been taken into consideration when this exchange was designed, and Nafstad responded that Mn/DOT’s expansion plan goes all the way to Monticello, and that study determined what the freeway would look like in the future, and this project was designed to accommodate that growth. As far as any future modifications, these will be managed/operated by the state after construction is done. The state was right to have Albertville design this according to their needs, and they will be in charge of it after it is done. Eichelberg said that he had requested (at the last task force meeting) that the design be reviewed to see if there was any way to shorten the ramp, but if they don’t follow the directives from Mn/DOT and the FHWA, they will not be allowed to use the $5 million that was awarded in a grant. Eichelberg asked if the county could get the full benefit of a lower than expected bid by reducing the county’s contribution by that amount that might come in under the estimate, and Fingalson said that this could be a possibility. It is a good climate for bids at this time, but Nafstad said that he has already taken this into account when determining the estimated cost of the project. The bid date has not yet been set as they are still trying to identify all the funding sources. Construction costs are estimated at $7.5 million, and they are hoping to secure the funding sources for that figure and hope that results are less than that. Nafstad said that if bids are favorable and less than the estimated amount, reductions could be prorated in some sort of percentage fashion. Kruse said that the final design has been completed, and they are negotiating with just one land owner over the final piece of right of way, hoping to avoid condemnation. This project could still be bid this year.
Albertville applied for a Greater Minnesota grant, and they received $5.5 million out of an available statewide $30 million total. There were thirteen applications, most of which were requests for $10 million or more. The importance of this project was recognized, and Albertville received 100% of what they requested, but this project needs to be under contract by the end of 2012. Another driver for the schedule is that the funds available through the Economic Recovery fund in the amount of $2 million have a deadline of January 1, 2011 for the issuance of bonds. Kruse said that Albertville would like a commitment from the county and hope that this will then prompt Otsego to also make a contribution. Albertville has already contributed $1 million to this project and anticipates that they will contribute that much again, which is a huge amount for a city the size of Albertville. They are not trying to push this off onto anyone else, but they need help with the funding. This improvement will impact regional transportation, and in the end, the state will own the project.
Sawatzke said that though he would like to see Albertville be successful in doing this project, he is concerned about Wright County’s proper role in this. He doesn’t agree that there can’t be a shorter ramp off the freeway, which would cut the costs down to $1 million. Fingalson agreed that it would be much simpler to have just a single ramp, but it is not possible because of federal regulations. Kruse said that if they were do construction of just a wall and a ramp, the cost would be $4.5 million, but then it wouldn’t be eligible for federal funding, and there would be a $4.5 million gap. Nafstad said that on the surface, a simple ramp makes sense, and that was exactly the request that was made eight years ago. Through the work of traffic experts who investigated that design, it was discovered that the overall operation of the freeway diminished. There would be weaving conflicts, difficulty in maintaining a certain baseline speed, safety problems, operational problems, and the highway would not meet the standard spacing criteria. They did verify that this final design isn’t being required just because of the requirements on the books, but they went beyond that to look at the traffic analysis, with is a problematic situation. If there were just an off ramp, the wall would still be necessary due to the taper length, the merging, and the transition length. As far as the impact to the lake, it has to be avoided regardless of the scenario. According to the law, the lake cannot be filled and the wall must be built.
Sawatzke said that his second concern is that this might be a case of overbuilding and building too much. This would be the first time that Wright County would be involved in financing ramps related to the freeway, and he wondered if Wright County would be setting a precedent that would prompt others to ask for funds for projects that are not entirely for county road improvements. He questioned if Wright County would be changing its funding policy by agreeing to contribute funds to this improvement. If Wright County had strictly followed its funding formula for the CSAH 18 project in Monticello and Albertville, it would have contributed more than it did to that project. Fingalson said that this project is a bit unusual as it involves I-94 along with CSAH 37. Sawatzke said that he is concerned about getting into a situation that Wright County hasn’t been in before now. CSAH 19, to the north of the outlet mall, will be under capacity in the near future and it will need significantly more funding because it is a county road. He said that he thinks $2 million is more than Wright County can do right now. Kruse acknowledged Sawatzke’s comments and agreed that this is a unique project; and even though it is not an Albertville city highway, the city has already put $1 million toward it. If Albertville were not willing to support this improvement, the State and Federal government would not be addressing this need. He said that both CSAH 37 and CSAH 19 are highly traveled roads with CSAH 37 having 8,000-10,000 vehicles per day, and it is rapidly reaching its capacity of 12,000 for a two-lane road. CSAH 19 has nearly 20,000 vehicles near I-94. The Northeast Transportation Study that was completed a few years ago projected Albertville’s population to reach 5,200 in 2018; and even though growth has slowed down in the last few years, Albertville’s population is already at 6,200 in 2010. Otsego and St. Michael have also exceeded the population projections. Kruse added that even though the freeway is not on the county system, it is still a vital link in the system. Russek said that $2 million is quite a big chunk for the county to contribute, especially since the county is trying to hold down the levy, with expectations that 2011 might be even tighter. He doesn’t know where the funds will come from, and Wright County already has a road program that needs to be maintained. Recovery funds that have been awarded to St. Michael and Albertville will be used for a library and for this project. Additional money for the project will come through the levy. Albertville is looking at bonding for the project. Thelen asked if the county could also pay for this project over time, but Sawatzke reiterated that he didn’t think Wright County had ever funded an exit ramp in the past. Eichelberg stated that there was not a need for a departure from the funding formula before such tremendous growth took place. This is the only freeway going through Wright County, and this area is highly affected. However, he acknowledged that if something is done here, then a precedent is being set. He added that he would hate to lose the $5.5 million dedicated to this project that will help support Wright County’s transportation system.
Thelen asked how the benefit formula was determined, and Nafstad explained that the State Department of Transportation annually posts values for an individual’s time, in a truck or car, and assigns a vehicle/mile value. Fingalson confirmed that these numbers are used by both state and national agencies. The numbers used for the benefits calculation in this instance were on the conservative side, and all traffic was formulated at the rate for cars, rather than at the higher rate for trucks. Safety benefits (e.g. cost to society of crashes and injuries) were also not included. The pollution caused by the idling of vehicles in delayed traffic was not counted as a factor in the benefit formula.
Fingalson said that there is $1.4 million in the reserve Road/Bridge fund, which would be the only funds available from the Highway Department. He reminded everyone of the meetings that were held with Otsego, Albertville, and St. Michael where they all talked about the needs for Naber and Kadler and where some sophisticated modeling showed that severe problems would develop if no action were to be taken. There is a turndown in the economy at this point, but it will pick up again and needs will be even greater. Wright County is part of the regional picture here, and this is not just a city problem, but also a state and regional problem. There are lots of people who visit this area, and improvements would help immensely with the traffic flow. Eichelberg said that if action is not taken soon, the county will lose the opportunity to borrow money at a lower rate of interest. Holding off to see how the economy recovers could cost $45,000 in interest savings.
John and Casey Darkenwald, landowners in the immediate vicinity of this intersection, presented a letter *Attachment 3+ outlining their request for Wright County to “take the leadership role in providing the necessary financial aid to fully fund the project.” They stated their belief that if Wright County were to make a firm commitment in funding, then other interested parties would quickly follow suit.
Sawatzke asked J. Darkenwald if he felt that the appraisal for his properties was appropriate for the expected value that would be gained from the project, and Darkenwald agreed that the project would make his properties more valuable. Improvements would also increase the value on vacant properties which would in turn bring additional tax revenues to Wright County when they are developed. Developers have been waiting up to 15 years for access rights. Darkenwald said that this recession is going to turn around, and more homes will come in and the tax base on commercial properties will go up if they are allowed to gain some access. This will help create value which will help increase the tax value. In his opinion, the benefits study was light. In the bigger picture, it will cost the county only $2 million to create a much larger tax base if this is done right. Developers of land in Albertville have been talking about this for 20 years, and he said that this project needs leadership from the county, which will be good for the long haul. He strongly urged the county to take leadership on this improvement, in part because there will be safety issues all over the place in the future. A good infrastructure requires money.
Kruse said that traffic counts are currently at 35,000/day and projected to be at 110,000 by 2030. There is really no alternative for this project, and improving CSAH 37 alone wouldn’t solve the congestion problems in this area. If this does not get taken care of now, it will still have to be dealt with in the future. Albertville is blessed to be one of three recipients when 13 candidates, with millions of dollars of need, applied. This is one of three interchanges in the state that received priority. Klecker added that not only is valuable time lost waiting in traffic, but a project done in the future will cost more than doing it now. In addition, it’s only a matter of time before there is total gridlock. This is a golden opportunity to do something before this happens, and it is a golden opportunity to bring $5 million to Wright County to be used for the area’s good. This has been considered for a long time; and though it is not as simple as they would like it to be, this final design is the one that seems to be the most favorable one and the only one approved of by Mn/DOT and the FHWA, and it is pretty much ready to go. We can pay now or pay more later. Improvements will be followed by development, so it is a win-win-win situation for city, community, and Wright County.
Eichelberg asked if the project could be bid to see the amounts that come in. Kruse said that Terry Humbert of Mn/DOT expressly recommended not doing that unless there is already a basic funding plan in place, because to bid without one is very harmful to everyone. Nafstad added that Mn/DOT had done this with the 62 Cross-town project and ended up with a public relations mess.
Nafstad said that the city is negotiating the last piece of right of way now; and as soon as that commitment is there, they will be allowed to advertise for bids and then accept bids 21 days after that.
RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that no recommendation is made at this time. Commissioners can review the information and suggestions and can make a decision at the time that minutes from this meeting are presented to the County Board.
II. Revisions to Crosswalk Policy
Fingalson explained that a change to the speed limit restriction for crosswalks is being recommended at this time, and he feels that it is an appropriate change. Cordell explained that the current Wright County Marked Crosswalk Policy was approved by the Board back in 2007. Referring to the last page of the handout [Attachment 4], Cordell gave a brief overview of what treatment(s) need to be in place for crosswalks to be approved at various speed limits. With the addition of the one-way pair in St. Michael and a change of criteria by Mn/DOT, Wright County was motivated to look at modifying the policy in regard to speed limits and traffic lanes so that crosswalks could be added, with certain restrictions, in areas that had previously not met the criteria. Sawatzke asked Kern and Stolfe (from the City of Delano) if these modifications would successfully answer their concerns on CSAH 30 west of TH 12. They said that they would like a marked crosswalk and a lower speed limit. Cordell said that a speed study had been done in that area about four or five years ago; and since nothing significant has changed, it is unlikely that a speed limit change would be recommended with another study. He said that Mn/DOT could be asked to restudy the highway, and based on crosswalk concerns, Delano could strongly request that a 35 mph speed limit be set. A change to 35 mph would eliminate the need for a blinker sign. If no changes are made to the speed limit, then a flashing light or blinker sign would be needed at the crosswalk. Fingalson said that this area may be a candidate for a speed study, and a crosswalk here might help slow down the traffic. Cordell will do a spot speed study to see what the 85 percentile is on this road. Kern thanked the Highway Department for addressing this issue and asked about Mn/DOT’s interpretation of turn lanes and travel lanes. Cordell said that turn lanes are considered travel lanes and are part of the distance that a pedestrian has to walk across the road. Fingalson said that it is important to follow Mn/DOT’s recommendations throughout the state. Cordell reminded everyone that a marked crosswalk is not a guarantee of protection, but there are now a wider variety of viable solutions for those cities wanting crosswalks. RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that the suggested changes to the Wright County Marked Crosswalk Policy be approved.
III. Sewer System at French Lake Truck Station
Jans explained that the sewer system at the French Lake shop is no longer working properly and distributed a breakdown of estimated expenses to fix it [Attachment 5]. This is a shop that is on the consolidation plan for the future, but there are no immediate plans to make a move at this time. The salt storage facility at this shop is portable, and because of salt corrosion in the building, $13,500 was recently spent on building a container for the brine tank in the hoop building. The current sewer system is backing up, and the blockage is probably caused by root growth. Russek suggested that a sealed tank be installed and Sawatzke suggested that a
mound could be added later. Perhaps both a sealed tank and a mound system could be bid to see what the actual cost would be for either option. Russek said that the three-acre French Lake site might be valuable in the future if the county decides to sell it, so a tank would probably be best for temporary use. Sawatzke would like to see what the system would cost, and if the numbers are accurate, then a mound system would be more economical after the first four years have passed. Another option would be to keep the current system and continue to pump it at an approximate cost of $125/time. Russek said he thought it would be best to put the tank in and add value to the property. A two-compartment tank could be installed and still meet code for a mound system later. A sewer designer would need to be hired to do a site evaluation if a mound system is done. RECOMMENDATION: It was the consensus of the TCOTW that a 3,000 gallon tank be installed at the French Lake shop, with expectations that this tank will require pumping two to three times/year.
IV. Update on Road Safety Plan
Fingalson explained that the Road Safety Plan process is being done statewide and is being funded by Mn/DOT. District 3 is the first district (along with District 6) to be doing this, as this district has the highest incidences of crashes. He distributed a summary of the plan [Attachment 6] explaining the measures that are being considered to improve safety on the highways. Mn/DOT is taking a proactive approach in trying to identify similar roadways and traffic characteristics and then developing successful strategies to help prevent crashes. There is now a list of potential projects that can be tackled to improve the road system. Fingalson said that the first thing that was looked at was segments of roadway, and these segments were prioritized. Rumble stripes are one of the strategies that is suggested for narrow roadways with narrow or no shoulders. Because drivers have a tendency to stay toward the center of narrow roadways, there is less likelihood that drivers will cross over them unless they are being inattentive. Hopefully, a transportation safety plan will be completed by the end of the summer. Olmsted County is the only county that has one completed. Fingalson asked the commissioners if they would be comfortable using rumble stripes in an area such as CR 101 where the road is narrow. He said that they have learned to never put rumble stripes on a road with paved shoulders and counts of 10,000 or more vehicles/day. People gravitate to the edge line on wider roads. Cordell said that if the commissioners are not comfortable with the rumble stripe, perhaps this plan could show a six-inch epoxy edge line, but he is not sure if Mn/DOT would allow a change in the strategy. Sawatzke felt it would be foolish to go back to rumble stripes. Russek said he didn’t think rumble stripes would be a problem on a narrow road. Drivers are generally more attentive on narrow roads. Sawatzke was concerned about creating new initiatives when resources are lower than ever, and Fingalson said there would be opportunities to get money for projects like this. Cordell said that this will be the process that will be used to secure Highway Safety Improvement Project (HSIP) funds. Fingalson said that he wants commissioners to be comfortable with what the Highway Department presents as a safety plan. He added that the department would be cautious in identifying homes that are close to the roadway, and in those areas they could maybe go with a six-inch epoxy. Sawatzke wondered if the money would be better spent on higher-volume roadways, and Fingalson said that the study would be for all roads. Thelen is not in favor of noise or lighting away from the cities, but she might like the possibility of an alternative like the six-inch epoxy line. Fingalson is not looking for a recommendation of approval at this time but is just giving the TCOTW a snapshot of this project.
V. CSAH 12 Update
Hawkins distributed a copy of newsletters sent by both the City of Buffalo and Wright County to residents along the CSAH 12 project. The detour will be in effect as of Wednesday, June 9 on both portions of this project. This will be a complex project, with about half the length of the roadway (county portion) needing soil corrections. The department will continue to keep everyone informed with letters and updates. The timber bridge will be removed and a concrete box culvert will replace it. A temporary culvert will be put in there first and then the area will be built up with sand. Lightweight fill and surcharge will be used to get settlement to occur, which requires a very specialized design in that area. This will be a two-year project with the final wear course to be applied in the spring of 2011.
Cordell said that there is currently a shortage of pavement striping paint, which may delay the completion of several projects. However, Wright County is about two-thirds done with the seasonal striping, so that probably won’t be affected.
Fingalson announced that dynamic signing will be put up on CSAH 37 just east of the freeway on either June 21 or 22. These will also have radar as an added precaution to remind drivers to slow down if they are traveling faster than the advisory speed limit.
(End of TCOTW Minutes)
The following is discussion which occurred at today’s County Board Meeting relating to the 6-08-10 TCOTW Minutes.
At today’s Board Meeting, Fingalson said representatives from Albertville were present to discuss Item #1 of the TCOTW Minutes, “Funding Request From City of Albertville (Funding Task Force Report).” Mattson did not want this request to impact projects in his District. He referenced the reconstruction of Hwy. 3 and the CSAH 35 Bridge. He questioned whether the funding request will have any affect on those projects. Fingalson said it will be up to the County Board but he hoped it would not. There is a 5-Year Plan in place and those projects identified are needed. Mattson said he has not pushed for projects in his District as he was aware of the needed work in the eastern portion of the County. However, he felt it was time that the projects in his District were addressed. Fingalson said there is not identified money for the I-94 Interchange Project except for the Reserve Fund. He hoped the County would not vary from the projects identified in the 5-Year and 10-Year Plans. The Interchange Project was not specifically identified in the Plans due to the uncertainty in funding. Fingalson said this is an opportunity to do a project that is very much needed. One of the things mentioned at the TCOTW Meeting was how the request affects the County’s funding policy. Fingalson and Hawkins discussed this afterwards. They decided that Hawkins should look at what it would cost to improve CSAH 37. Hawkins came up with an estimate of $1.97 million to improve CSAH 37. This is a rough estimate, using the County’s funding formula, and would not include R/W costs. The possible improvements would address capacity problems. Fingalson said the suggested improvements would not provide a direct connection to the Outlet Mall. Sawatzke stated this is the first time he has heard of improvements on CSAH 37. Fingalson said this was prompted by discussion at the TCOTW Meeting. Sawatzke said his point is that improvements to CSAH 37 were never really a reasonable or a viable option to this problem.
Sawatzke asked what Wright County’s share would be for the I-94 Interchange Project following the County’s funding formula. Fingalson said the County’s funding formula is a guideline that has been deviated from many times. An example would be the Hwy. 18 Project in Monticello. The County funded $2 million toward that Project. Sawatzke responded that according to the County’s funding formula, the County’s portion on the Highway 18 Project would have been $3 million. Fingalson said projects such as this are unique so the County’s funding formula would not apply. Thelen asked whether CSAH 37 will need improvement if the I-94 Interchange Project is completed. Fingalson did not feel improvements will be needed in the future in that situation. Presentations at the TCOTW meeting showed scenarios of what will happen with roadways in the future with increased traffic. Fingalson felt it was the County’s responsibility to participate because this impacts many of the County’s road systems. The City of Albertville has taken steps to secure a $5.5 million grant for the Interchange Project. Funds available through the Economic Recovery Fund in the amount of $2 million come with a deadline of 1-01-11. The City of Albertville is looking at using Transportation Revolving Loan funds to fund their portion of the Project. Depending on County Board action today, the City of Otsego may participate in funding as well.
Sawatzke feels an exit ramp is needed in this area. His opinion is that the $2 million figure for the County to contribute was selected for the Interchange Project because that is how much was given to Monticello for their project. He restated that per the County’s funding policy, the City of Monticello should have received $3 million but a reduced amount was given. He said that the County could give $2 million to Albertville, however, when other cities have projects, they may ask for $2 million as that was what was given to Monticello and Albertville. He cited possible projects in St. Michael (Naber Avenue with exit/entrance ramps to the freeway), Otsego (interchange west of the Albertville interchange) and Monticello (another intersection by Hwy. 39). These funding requests could occur if the County’s funding formula is not followed and the County’s role and responsibility is not determined. Sawatzke said this is not a County road. It is an off ramp for the freeway. It is an important project and he understands why Albertville wants it. The Project is not identified on the 5-Year or 10-Year Plans. He questioned whether the County should contribute $2 million on this Project because that is what was done in Monticello. The funding formula in Monticello dictated $3 million but the County contributed $2 million. The funding formula with the I-94 Interchange Project may only dictate a few hundred thousand dollars. Sawatzke is trying to determine the rationale in contributing $2 million. Fingalson had provided information today on improvements to CSAH 37 and the cost but Sawatzke said there has not been any discussion on improving that roadway. Sawatzke said it is not on the 5-Year or 10-Year Plan, and this is the first he has heard of it. Fingalson responded that Hwy. 18 was not in the Plans either. Sawatzke stated they are looking for the rationale to spend $2 million. Because a project on the other side of the freeway is funded with $2 million, it does not necessarily mean that amount should be applied to this Project. Sawatzke said he was not willing to participate. He felt $2 million was too much and it does not fit in with the funding formula. He thought the project is overbuilt, which he feels could be the view of every engineer in the room today. Sawatzke understands that State and Federal governments won’t let them build the road for less even though it is possible. He thought someone at the State and Federal levels should be told it is being overbuilt. Fingalson said this is something they have been doing for 8 years and it is not an option to build it another way. The reason he looked into this was because of the questions that were brought up and trying to equate it to the way the County has normally handled similar requests. Fingalson said the Hwy. 18 project in Monticello was one that the County had no interest in and the improvements were not needed. The reason it was done was to accommodate the freeway project for the developers. Although the I-94 Interchange Project does not involve direct improvements to the County system, it positively affects the existing problems and those that will be seen in the future. Fingalson said in matching apples to apples, the cost to improve CSAH 37 is about the same amount as what could be contributed to the Interchange Project. If the Interchange Project is completed, the improvements on CSAH 37 will not be required. The Interchange Project helps the region, increases the tax base, and provides a more positive environment for development in the future.
Eichelberg felt that some of these issues are outside of the box when addressing what really affects the community and Wright County. Not every project will receive a $5 million plus grant. He hoped future development will occur in the area. He questioned how important the Interchange Project is in comparison to purchasing additional park land, which the County recently did. The purchase of the Bertram Lakes Park land was unforeseen and was viewed by the County Board as a good thing for the future. Eichelberg viewed the Interchange Project the same way and spoke in favor of it. There is an option of bonding and there are reserve funds. Eichelberg said his recommendation is to figure a way to move forward.
Ron Klecker, Mayor of Albertville, said work has been completed on the Interchange Project for over six years. He said the Project affects CSAH 37 and CSAH 19, which are two County roads. He thought half of the traffic would be removed from CSAH 37 and diverted to the other side of I-94. Records reflect that CSAH 19 and CSAH 37 have some of the highest accident rates in the County. The Interchange Project will have a direct affect on improvements that may be required to these roadways in the future. If the Project is not completed, $5.5 million in funding will be lost. He said another County will gladly accept the grant funding if Wright County declines. He viewed this Project as an opportunity to do something about the future and thanked the Commissioners for taking the time to consider the Project. Klecker said this is something that is needed and conditions will only worsen. When Klecker first moved to Albertville eleven years ago, the population was about 2,500. The population a couple of years ago had grown to 5,000 and it is now at 6,000 and still growing. The forecasted population is over 100,000 for this area in the next 25 years.
Larry Kruse, Albertville City Administrator, extended thanks to Sawatzke and Eichelberg for their participation in the study group for this Project. Kruse addressed Sawatzke’s question on the $2 million request from the County. Kruse said this is an $11 million Project with a $3.7 million funding gap. Albertville cannot afford to fund that gap. They have looked at ways of dividing that cost. Albertville has invested $1 million to date, with the anticipation of funding another $1 million (total of $2 million). Other possible participants include the County and the City of Otsego. They have worked very hard on this Project. They have been team players but need some help. He said it would be great if bids come in lower than estimated. If the County feels it can’t borrow or take advantage of the Economic Recovery Program, Albertville could bond for it. Albertville is willing to extend that offer, assuming they have the statutory authority under their assessment law (they have to complete 20% minimum of the project). Kruse thanked the Board for their consideration.
Wallace Odell, Otsego resident since 1984, has experience working on planning commissions, economic development authorities, and was very involved in a large Presbyterian Church, among other things. He had a lot of opportunity to see many different things. What he came away with is the need for teamwork. In 2000, the State completed a large study on the I-494/I-94 corridor to establish needs and priorities. The study identified interchanges, including eight potential interchanges. The first listed is the interchange on I-94 in Albertville. Since that time, there have been three large projects to the east of that area. In addition to teamwork, Odell said priorities are needed. Many years ago when he was involved in planning situations, he developed a process whereby the goals are established and then the priorities are determined. He understands that with the current economic situation, there are a lot of good projects and not enough funding to go around. That is why it is important to prioritize. Odell said that Fingalson pointed out the benefits of this project and the State identified it as a project in 2000. The State viewed the Study as a guide for the community (county, city, township, or anyone else affected) from Maple Grove to the other side of Collegeville. The need is there, it has been identified, and now the question is how to get it done. Odell said it comes down to determining goals, defining priorities, agreeing on strategies, and developing tactics. The last step is doing it. Odell referenced Sawatzke’s comment that $2 million is too much for the County to contribute to this Project. The project cost is unknown. He offered the suggestion where each party would agree on a percentage of the funding. Once a commitment is received from each party, then the project can move forward.
Wayne Bauernschmitt, Wright Hennepin Electric, supports the Project from the Wright Hennepin Management Team perspective. They have worked closely with Albertville on determining infrastructure needs for the I-94/CSAH 19 interchange area and have invested $1.5 million in the general area supporting that infrastructure. They look to spend another $1 million in the area.
Kathleen Poate, I-94 West Chamber and Wright County resident, encouraged the County Board to move forward. She viewed this as an economic driver for the area but also as a step to the future to help secure infrastructure. In years to come, she hoped her family could live and work in Wright County and felt this was possible with a solid infrastructure.
Tom Darkenwald, City of Otsego Council Member, said the City of Otsego signed a resolution supporting the project. This was done to let Albertville know that they support their neighbor.
Richard Norman, County Coordinator, said a Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting will be held on 7-06-10. The meeting was set so the Coordinator and Auditor/Treasurer could share information on the 2010 budget and projections for the 2011 budget. Norman suggested that discussion on possible County funding for the Interchange Project be referred to that meeting. Russek said he cannot commit $2 million until the Board reviews the Budget. This is not a County road and will never be. He questioned taking over city streets and felt this was getting away from the County’s funding formula. He felt the only real connection for the County to the Project is CSAH 19, and that is not a $2 million project. Sawatzke asked whether this is part of the Federal Highway System. Fingalson said it is and that it will be taken over by Mn/DOT once it is completed.
Sawatzke asked for clarification from Kruse on the Project funding. Kruse said the total project cost is $10.84 million. They have obtained $5.44 million in a State Interchange Grant, $800,000 in a Federal Grant, and expended $900,000 to date. That leaves a deficit of $3.7 million. Sawatzke said Albertville is asking Wright County to fund $1.7 million, and that Albertville has committed to another $1 million. He asked how much includes roll call assessments. Kruse stated $800,000. Sawatzke said the $3.7 less $2.8 million leaves $900,000. Mention was made of Otsego contributing as well. Sawatzke asked how Albertville will fund another $1 million when the deficit is less than that. Kruse explained that when the Project is complete, Albertville will have $2 million invested. They have already borrowed from the City’s Sewer Fund. When the City bonds, they will have to pay the Fund back.
Kruse said that if $800,000 is assessed, there is $1.2 million remaining to fund. They count the assessments in the City’s share. In response to Sawatzke, Kruse said it is correct that Albertville would only be putting in $1.2 million. The mall has a $500,000 assessment. Kruse said that the assessments will be challenged and the City could spend $150,000 trying to make those assessments stand up in this market. The court could rule that the value is not correct and lower it.
Thelen supported the idea of laying this issue over. She referenced the point made that the County’s funding formula doesn’t apply. She said new challenges inspire new solutions. This is not a city street or exit ramp, it is a regional issue. She felt this should be seriously looked at if it can take congestion problems off from I-94. She also felt it was important to look at every situation independently. The Project has been studied for eight years. This is a regional hub and about $300,000 in tax revenues are realized from the Albertville Mall. Many people around the State use the Mall. Thelen would not want to reject this Project on the basis that the County hasn’t done this before. She felt the cost/benefit ratio speaks for itself. Thelen supported the project. She felt discussions could be held over for review during the upcoming Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting. Eichelberg supported this suggestion. It is still within the timeline that Albertville can function to qualify for the $5.5 million. Mattson was unsure whether to support the project but would support laying it over for discussion during budgets. Eichelberg moved to refer this issue to the Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting on 7-06-10. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Sawatzke said although people have indicated it is not possible, he felt $1.5 or $2 million should be eliminated from the project costs. Wright County could possibly fund some and St. Michael as well. He appreciated the kind words from Albertville on their working relationship during the Study Group. He has been working with that Group for a long time and would like to see the project happen. He knows there are limitations on what needs to be done and felt laying this over for further discussion was the best scenario. The motion carried 5-0.
Sawatzke made a motion to approve the 6-08-10 Transportation Committee Of The Whole Minutes and the remainder of the recommendations within them. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Fingalson presented a resolution allowing advance of State Aid Highway Funds for 2010. Russek moved to adopt Resolution #10-27, seconded by Sawatzke, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
The meeting recessed at 9:42 A.M. and reconvened at 9:54 A.M.
Bill Stephens, Environmental Health Officer, introduced discussion on the need for a discretionary Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Dean Lake Preserve Residential Development Project in Section 9 of Rockford Township. This is a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Project. The 123-acre parcel is proposed to encompass ten buildable lots. There are currently two building entitlements. If the Project is approved, there could be an additional eight homes. Stephens said last year, the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) updated their guidelines for EAW’s. One of the key factors is the requirement for a citizen petition. The requirements now indicate that the petitioners need to submit evidence or documentation with the petition to the EQB that supports the need for an EAW based on their concerns about the project. With regard to this request, the EQB received a citizens petition requesting that an EAW be conducted for a proposed 10-lot residential PUD on approximately 120 acres on the north shore of Dean Lake. As the project does not meet the requirements of a mandatory EAW, it is not covered by any exemptions within EAW guidelines. Wright County was designated by the EQB as the responsible government unit. Therefore, the Wright County Board must decide whether or not a discretionary EAW should be conducted for this Project. The County Board received a copy of the Findings of Fact and Order documents for both approval and denial of an EAW. The narrative from the petitioners reflects concerns on the Lake and the Project. It also includes signatures of the petitioners which exceed the minimum 25 required. Stephens said the petition was signed by pretty much the entire residence on Dean Lake. Also included for review were the minutes from the Rockford Township Board and the Planning Commission. Stephens said discussions on the project will continue at the Planning Commission. They conducted a sight survey last month. Discussions were held over as the petition was received from the EQB. Also included in the material are lake water quality data and an article based on a study performed by the University of Minnesota comparing storm water runoff from cropland versus development. The petitioners submitted photos of Dean Lake.
Stephens said they are not necessarily making a recommendation. The EAW is discretionary because it did not meet the minimum requirements for a mandatory EAW. However, it did not meet any exemption requirements. It will be up to the Wright County Board to make the determination on whether an EAW should be completed. Stephens said the issues and concerns brought forth are valid. Most of the information contained within the petition address past or current issues that brought the Lake to the status it is in. There is a requirement for the petition to make a connection between the proposed project and the condition of the Lake, and Stephens was not sure that was present. Most of the issues can be handled by the Planning Commission through imposed conditions in approval of the plat for subdivision, or the Planning Commission could deny the Project. This is at their discretion and that decision will come before the County Board for approval.
Mattson said when requests for an EIS or EAW are brought forth, he generally supports the request. That way the results are known and a decision can be based on those results. If an EAW is completed and found that it was not needed, he could base his decision on the known. Stephens clarified the process. An EAW is not an approval or denial of a project. The EAW or EIS offers recommendations on the mitigation of potential problems. Those recommendations go back for consideration by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission then recommends to the County Board whether to approve or deny the project. The issue today is not approval of the project. Basically, the County Board’s charge today is to determine if the project could have environmental impacts and whether an EAW should be ordered. Russek said at one of the Township Meetings, the Township Board approved the rezoning request by the developer. The next time the Township Board met, they discussed the request further. The Township was made more aware of the environmental impacts on the Lake and what the parcel looks like. There is a lot of wetland involved. Russek thought the County Board may receive a letter from the Township on the concerns. Stephens said no other letters were received other than the petitions. He understood the Township Board received three additional letters.
Allen Moberg, Dean Lake resident, agreed with Mattson’s comments about completing the EAW because right now they do not know if there will be environmental impacts on the Lake. He said the Board’s charge is to do the right thing. He said there is no essential time limit for approval and no rush for the development. Moberg said the development is larger than the Lake and that one can imagine the significant impact that could occur. They run the potential of further damage to an already shaky Lake.
Stephens responded that the proposed project size is 123 acres. The Lake is 173 acres. Stephens clarified that there is a timeline on making a decision on the EAW. The County has 30 days from when the EAW petition was received to make a decision (not including Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays). With this petition, that would put the deadline sometime in the second week of July. A decision is not required today by the County Board, but he wanted the Board to understand there is a timeline involved.
Moberg said his reference to a timeline was not referencing the decisions that need to be made. His comments related to the timeline of any economic impacts or hardships if this was delayed or laid off. He felt delaying approval for 1-2 years may be better given the economic situation. There are currently 3-4 homes on the Lake that are not sold.
Patti Rich, Dean Lake resident, read a statement on her position. In summary, she spoke of the problems being experienced currently on the Lake (weeds, inch thick algae, dead fish, white foam on lawns, and goop in the Lake). She has contacted various entities including the Township Board, Planning Commission, State Environmental Officials, Trumpeter Swan Society, Ducks Unlimited, DNR, and SWCD) and collected two petitions signed by nearly every resident on the Lake. She was present to request approval of an EAW. She stated Dean Lake is one of the five dirtiest lakes in Wright County with phosphorus levels at 211 (average number is 22). The water clarity is between one and two feet. Dean Lake meets standards today to be on the Minnesota Impaired Waters List. The List is updated every two years so Dean Lake will be added in 2012. They are concerned with the proposed development bringing a 20% increase in the number of homes on the Lake. The public access takes a toll as well. Her major concern is the proposed development designed to sit on both sides of a 30-acre wetland that pours crystal clear water into the Lake. The wetland needs to be protected in hopes of cleaning up the Lake. They do not want to see any more shoreline touched. She spoke of the efforts of SWCD and the DNR to initiate new shoreland management standards in an effort to stop destruction on Minnesota lakes. She said the County is the caretaker of Wright County’s waters. They are seeing warning signs emerging. Rich asked that an EAW be approved so that a closer look can be taken of the environmental effects of the proposed development. She also requested that the County take note of its own Land Use Plan and its possible role in this. In the meantime, Dean Lake residents will continue to aerate the Lake in the winter for healthy fish populations. Monthly water testing is underway. She said they would like to heal this Lake and requested assistance.
Jim Rich, resident of Dean Lake, said this development may or may not qualify in every way for the completion of an EAW. He felt the future of the Lake was at stake and it is a golden opportunity to complete a scientific study. He was stunned to learn that residents are required to file a petition, which is sent to the State. The residents are asked to prove the case, where an expert could review the area and indicate what is wrong. He felt that this opportunity will be a great chance to help the Lake. His perspective is that the wetland is the only chance to clean the Lake. If the land is developed around the wetland, the runoff will go either into the Lake or into the Lake via the wetland. The scientific data gathered will be helpful for everyone involved to determine a proper course for the Lake. The information will reflect whether agriculture land or houses would be more beneficial. He referenced a point made by the Executive Director of the MN Lakes Associations, who indicates that it costs 20% more to try to salvage a lake versus the cost to try to prevent harm to a lake. Rich said it will cost a lot more to rectify problems and said Dean Lake is scheduled to be listed on the Minnesota Impaired Waters List next year. There are over 1,200 on the List and not one lake has been removed from the List in 18 years. It is a difficult process to restore a lake. If pressure is put on a lake, it won’t turn around. Dean Lake has shoreline that has not been touched and very few lakes in Wright County are not developed. Rich felt the EAW will help everyone determine the proper course.
Wayne Nelson, resident, said he coordinates the aeration efforts for the Lake. With the direction the Lake is going, he viewed those efforts as becoming more common. He said it is important to note that the whole process is a reflection of Dean Lake’s residents being frustrated with the direction the Lake is going. It has been impaired for a long time and getting worse. The advantage of the EAW is being informed before moving ahead. Nelson said the only benefactor of the development project is the developer, as people will make money. Nelson felt he personally would lose more and that Dean Lake is already handicapped. As the impact of the development is unknown, he felt an EAW would be beneficial so decisions can be made on the information obtained. It does not benefit the County to approve the proposed development without looking at it. It brings no real monetary value to the County. Nelson felt this is a matter of responsibility. It is something that hasn’t happened yet in Minnesota but needs to. He viewed this as a great opportunity.
Jeremy Duehr, Senior Project Scientist, Malcolm Pirnie, was present on behalf of the Dean Lake Preserve. He was asked to look at the EAW petition and the factors, as compared to the development, to see if there is the potential for significant environmental effects. Duehr said one of the things done was to look at the land use and how the site plan overlaid with the land use conditions. The major findings were that the issues that were presented will all be addressed in local, State and Federal permitting processes that the development will have to pursue going forward. Issues on nitrogen and phosphorus runoff will be addressed through sewage treatment systems that will have to be permitted by the County and installed by designers and installers approved by the MPCA. The development will be required to have storm water ponding and there are restrictions in the shoreland on vegetation removal. Duehr said that the development encompasses about 20% of the shoreline and based on DNR restrictions imposed since 1996, they can only clear up to 4%. Those restrictions and the sewage treatment restrictions are all new since 1996. The remainder of the existing Lake was not subject to that restriction previously, so the existing conditions resulted in much more cleared vegetation than they will be allowed to do. The developer will be required to obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit. They will be required to have best management practices to control runoff. That is where most of the runoff comes, through sediment and nutrient runoff from construction activities. That will be minimized and maintained through best management practices. The wetland is a DNR protected wetland, which will require that no work is completed in the wetland. It will be protected by the Army Corp of Engineers. Any other wetland on the property will be protected by the Army Corp of Engineers, as well as the SWCD, through the Wetland Conservation Act. An important factor to consider is what the project will do, not what the boat ramp will do. Duehr said many conditions in the Lake are due to the long history of land uses in the basin. They do not believe sufficient material information was brought forth to suggest that this development will make it much worse and will be significant enough to require an EAW. They do appreciate the concern and they do appreciate the condition of the Lake. There is a lot of algae. Swans use the lake but he was unable to find nesting Trumpeter Swans.
Jim Rich said he is not a scientist or person that studies this. He felt every developer indicates they will follow every guideline and that they will protect the shoreline. He presented a copy of the Star Tribune which featured an article on the front page on how developers have basically taken over lakeshores. The article reflects the vegetation which has been removed from shorelines, even though removal is not to be beyond 4%. Rich said once the houses are built, the developers leave, and the final permits are done, things happen after the fact. They go in with great intentions. He left the newspaper article for review and read the headline entitled, “Officials in Minnesota can’t say no to those who want to break the rules.”
Paul Otto, Otto Associates, represents Doug Hoskins as the Surveyor and Engineer for the project. He said that they are talking about Dean Lake as a whole. He wanted to clarify that the EAW will study this property only. It will not do anything to fix the problems that have occurred. He felt the two needed to be separated. He said the newspaper article three-part series was not strictly about new development. It also addresses variances, the Board of Adjustment, and building to close to lakes. The first article was about Lake Independence and how the farm fields are actually a larger contributor to the problems in that Lake. He did not feel it was fair to pull those out of context. Otto felt they all work together and that has to be kept in mind. He said it is not just developments, or just farms or wetlands, it is a compromise of all of these things working together and that needs to be kept in mind. Otto said there is a time and place for an EAW. If the County Board decides that an EAW is warranted and they have gone through the process, then that is what needs to be done. He did not feel it was fair to skew the facts.
Doug Hoskins said he represents the buyer and the seller. He said time is of the essence. The EAW process is three months, as he understands, and costs $5,000. They have a resident who owns the 126 acres. They have put a lot of time and effort into designing and trying to preserve the wetland. Hoskins stated that is why there is a 100-acre lot and why the lots are divided into 2+ acres. All of the government regulations are in place to do the right thing. He questioned whether he can control what happens later. He referenced the remainder of the Lake and the contributors to the problems, including no vegetation and mowing to the edge of the water. He said he is aware of failing septic systems on the Lake. He did not feel the impact on the Lake would be very high for 8 lots on 126 acres. Hoskins said the seller would like to move on as he is retiring. Sawatzke said if Hoskins knows of specific septic systems failing on Dean Lake that he should inform the Environmental Health Office for the best interest of property owners. Hoskins said ag ditches should also be looked at, and there are two in particular that are feeding into the Lake. He was unsure of the length of their drain tiles and where that water is coming from. It was his position that these ditches are what are impacting the Lake, for the most part.
Thelen questioned whether the EAW will ascertain whether this development will cause any additional problems or whether there will be no impact. Duehr said the EAW will look at the development and the environmental impacts it may or may not have. It will be the County’s job to determine whether the environmental impacts rise to the level of significance. Thelen asked Duehr whether it was a good idea to complete an EAW. Duehr said it can be a good idea in the right circumstances. The point he was trying to make earlier is that a lot of the information in the EAW will have to be collected by Otto and Associates anyway when they do the modeling for storm water impacts and all of those processes. The EAW will require more information than that.
Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, said there has been one hearing on the rezoning of this property at the Planning Commission level. The plat design is at the preliminary stage at best. They don’t have the soil tests or the intricate design that will be available at some point if this project moves forward. The hearing at the Planning Commission level has been continued to 7-08-10. Salkowski said the Planning Commission may end up cancelling that meeting as they only have one agenda item. In that case, this issue would move to the 7-22-10 Planning Commission Meeting. If the rezoning is denied by the Planning Commission, this all becomes a moot point and the County and developer’s expense for the EAW would be a waste. If the zoning is approved and the EAW goes forward, the purpose of the EAW is not to approve or deny the project. The purpose of the EAW would be to reflect project conditions that need to be imposed as they move forward. More likely than not, an EAW may mean the project will receive approval. He did not want anyone to misunderstand and think if an EAW is performed, the project is not approved. If the Board decides to require an EAW today, his recommendation to the Planning Commission will be to act on the rezoning at the 7-22-10 Planning Commission Meeting. If the rezoning is denied, the process will end. If the rezoning is approved, then the EAW becomes even more important to determine what types of terms and conditions are put on the project. Salkowski said there has been much debate across the State on when to stop an EAW. In order to properly do an EAW on this or other developments, more concrete plans will be required. In essence, it can be a double edge sword. Developments are spending a lot without the assurance of knowing the project will move forward, and the further along in the process and more commitments made, the harder it is to turn down. He felt the Planning Commission needs to make a decision on the rezoning prior to much more work being completed. Sawatzke said if the Planning Commission is supportive of the rezoning, it could be laid over until the EAW is complete. They don’t have the specific type of details to properly conduct an EAW. If the rezoning is going to be denied, he questioned why they should go through with the expense of an EAW. Russek said the Planning Commission met one time on this and the issue was carried over to their 7-08-10 meeting. As stated previously, they completed a site inspection and there was no indication on what the Planning Commission members’ perspective was. The decision at hand for the Planning Commission is the rezoning and that issue may be laid over to their 7-22-10 meeting.
Stephens said in review of the calendar, it appears that the deadline for decision on the EAW is around 7-16-10. There is a Board Meeting on 7-13-10 and that would be after the 7-08-10 Planning Commission Meeting (if it is held). It would be a week prior to the 7-22-10 Planning Commission Meeting if the 7-08-10 Meeting is not held. Stephens said in reading the Statutes, he understands that once a petition is filed, the County cannot make approvals for projects that would allow projects to progress on as far as land alteration, construction, etc. To his recollection, it does not specify that a County body cannot make a denial of a project.
Wayne Nelson questioned what happens if the 7-16-10 deadline is not met. Stephens said he would want to consult the rules, but thought they would consider the EAW approved (not a denial). He restated that he would like to look at the rules to confirm what happens when the 30-day guideline is not met. Nelson felt the process was going to be hard to put together. Bottom line, he thought the EAW should be completed and then the responsible thing will have been done. Referencing the discussion at hand, he questioned how to make this work.
Eichelberg understood that if there is an EAW and it comes back indicating the project can move forward, the residents will have no choice whether the development can occur. If the County Board denies the EAW and the Planning Commission ends up denying the rezoning, the project will not happen. Russek stated the EAW doesn’t make a decision on whether the project moves forward. The Planning Commission and County Board will make a decision on the rezoning. Eichelberg said if the County orders the EAW, there will be costs associated. Stephens said that is correct. He referenced a previous comment made that if the Board requires an EAW and the Planning Commission ends up denying the rezoning request, it nullifies the need for an EAW. His opinion was that some of this hinges on the Planning Commission’s decision. If the Planning Commission meets on 7-08-10 and makes their recommendation on the rezoning, that would provide guidance on the timeline. If the Planning Commission chooses to cancel their 7-08-10 meeting, then the decision on the discretionary EAW is before the County Board.
Mattson said in the past, EAW requests have been approved and the result is that people are happy they were completed. Although the developer incurs a cost, he felt that if he were a developer he would want to know the results of the EAW. Mattson spoke of the fragile lakes located in his District. For instance, Lake Sylvia residents spend a lot to assure the Lake stays healthy. At Lake Francis, fly-overs are performed. Mattson restated that lake residents spend a lot to take care of the lakes and what is spent by the developer is minor in comparison.
Stephens said the comments from the Planning & Zoning Office are not meant to sway the decision one way or another. Their comments are based only on the petition that was submitted to them. He said the Board can also consider the comments made by the individuals at this meeting. It is a discretionary decision by the Board, whether to make a decision today or lay it out to within that 30-day timeline. Thelen asked if it would be a better decision to table the County Board’s decision and to have the Planning Commission meet on the rezoning request on 7-08-10. Salkowski stated there is only one item on the Agenda for that evening and past practice has been to cancel the meeting when this occurs. Unless the Planning Commission denies the rezoning, it won’t make a difference. He did not feel a whole lot of work would be done by the 7-22-10 Planning Commission Meeting. He said if the Planning Commission denies the rezoning, it is done. If not, there will be some preliminary work that has been done. Salkowski said he could effectively argue either case. The County Board was provided with motions supporting either decision. On one hand, the process the County Board goes through, involving the SWCD, and the reviews they go through is as efficient as an EAW. On the other hand, there is a State process for an EAW which involves a few more agencies than would otherwise be involved. An EAW would provide a little more time and a more in-depth study, especially on fragile lakes. Sawatzke said he agrees with Russek’s analysis that the EAW is not going to determine whether the project is approved or denied. It may indicate denial based upon environmental concerns. Sawatzke said he typically supports petitions for EAW’s. He thought the current petition has met the threshold that there is some potential for environmental concern and he would support that. At the end of the EAW process, the developer could interpret the data and feel they could proceed with the project through mitigating concerns. Another person reading the same data could interpret it to mean the development shouldn’t happen. The EAW process does provide information for permitting authorities to possibly deny or not deny and under what conditions.
Sawatzke made a motion to adopt the Findings of Fact and Order that the Wright County Board of Commissioners determines that there is a need for an EAW for the Dean Lake Preserve development project. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried unanimously.
Russek moved to authorize attendance at the AMC Leadership Development Summit on August 11-13, 2010, in Walker. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
Thelen announced that Sugar Lake received the 2010 MN Waters Lake Association of the Year Award for their efforts to clean and repair the Lake. Sugar Lake is located in the Townships of Corinna and Clearwater. Thelen felt in light of the lengthy discussion held today on Dean Lake, that Sugar Lake residents and other stewards of lakes in the County should be acknowledged for their efforts.
Bills Approved
All State Communications $320.29
Ameripride Linen and Apparel 172.88
AMI Imaging Systems Inc. 947.72
APEC Industrial Sals & Serv 699.77
Aramark Services Inc. 6,489.18
Barker Co./Bob 1,081.80
Boyer Truck Parts 1,111.58
Breezy Point Resort Inc. 1,318.06
Brock White Co. LLC 147.52
Carver County-Financial Ser 145.00
Center Point Energy 156.16
Central MN Mental Health 100.00
Charm-Tex Inc. 2,920.18
Clearwater/City of 1,009.25
Climate Air 348.40
Collins Brothers Towing 201.99
Corporate Payment System 131.04
Cottens Buffalo 102.84
Crop Production Services 881.71
Crow River Tools 192.36
E Central Regional Juvenile 12,095.00
Erickson/Mark 161.40
Ernst/Debbie 182.50
Galls Inc. 232.72
Globalstar USA 115.96
Grainger 1,477.57
Granite Electronics 800.00
H&R Construction Co. 13,852.40
Hewlett Packard 2,543.64
Hiivala/Robert 567.10
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 1,358.66
HSBC Business Solutions 529.02
Jahnke/Chris 152.00
Jakes Excavating 300.00
Jobe/Steven 132.00
Lakedale Communications 253.39
LaPlant Demo Inc. 1,250.36
Lostetter/Carol H. 100.00
M-R Sign Company Inc. 8,843.09
Marco Inc. 462.76
McCalla/Denise 457.18
McQuay International 1,118.94
Menards-Buffalo 670.44
Mid-Minnesota Hot Mix Inc. 124,076.65
Midwest Safety Counselors 248.67
MN Assn. of Assessing Office 380.00
MN Board of Aelslagid 132.00
MN Counties Computer Coop 350.00
MN County Engineers Assoc. 150.00
MN County IT Leadership Ass 250.00
MN Department of Health 100.00
MN Department of Labor & In 100.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 223.75
Nagell Appraisal & Consult 700.00
Northland Business System 1,525.92
Office Depot 2,371.77
Planer/Norman G. 19,306.10
Qwest 7,419.57
Ramacciotti/Frank 200.00
Renodis.net.inc 2,700.00
RS Eden 8,903.05
Russell Security Resource 151.56
Servin Plumbing LLC 3,016.70
State of MN-Office Enterprise 370.00
Stephens/Bill 155.50
T & S Trucking 2,047.50
TDS Telecom 261.48
Vaith/Tammi 513.13
Veolia Environmental Serv 13,121.48
Veolia ES Solid Waste Midw 1,364.20
Verizon Wireless 752.22
Wright Co. Snowmobile Trail 7,994.50
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 43,111.20
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 1,140.83
Wright Hennepin Electric 1,464.81
Wright Soil & Water Conser 173.14
20 Payments less than $100 741.44
Final total $311,651.65
The meeting adjourned at 11:54 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal July 26, 2010.

Return to Wright County Menu | Return to Government Table of Contents

Herald Journal
Stories | Columns | Obituaries | Classifieds
Guides | Sitemap | Dassel-Cokato Home | Delano Home | HJ Home