WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
OCTOBER 26, 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 10-19-10 were corrected as follows: Page 8, 3rd paragraph, 6th line should read, “The bid included a unit price of $6.00/sq. ft. to replace damaged decking if needed” (Russek); Page 8, 3rd paragraph, 7th line, change from “…the bidder is responsible for collecting tax…” to “…the bidder is responsible for paying the tax…” (Russek). Russek moved to approve the minutes as corrected, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Petitions were accepted to the Agenda as follows: Item For Consid. #5, “District V Meeting” (Russek). Russek moved to approve the Agenda as amended, seconded by Eichelberg, carried unanimously.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Consent Agenda, seconded by Russek. Mattson referenced Consent Agenda Item A5, “Refer Parenting-Through-Divorce Contract To The Ways & Means Committee” and questioned why that was being referred to Committee. Richard Norman, County Coordinator, indicated that the contract with Mary Ann Peterson expires 12-31-10. The motion carried 5-0 to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: J. Moe, Crt. Srvs.; D. Demarais, Hwy.; L. Beauchane, J. Eaton, J. Hinton, T. Klaers, E. Knoop, J. Koenig, N. Larson, M. Lindquist, J. Lutgens, B. Miller, Sher./Corr.; E. Debra, VS/CD.
2. O/T Report, Period Ending 10-15-10.
3. Approve & Authorize Signatures On Contract With AG Enterprises, LLC, For 2011.
4. Approve And Authorize Signatures On Amendment To Grant Agreement With Dept. Of Commerce, Office Of Energy Security.
5. Refer Parenting-Through-Divorce Contract To The Ways & Means Committee.
6. Cancel Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting Scheduled For 10-26-10 At 10:30 A.M. Schedule Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting For 11-09-10 At 10:30 A.M.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for review. Mattson noted that there were not any claims included this week for Corrections. Sawatzke referenced the claims for Cathleen Gabriel on page 1 of the listing (2 claims for $100.00 each relating to Court appointed counsel). Sawatzke recalled that Gabriel is on a monthly contract with 12 equal payments annually. He questioned whether these payments are for something outside of the contract. He said that currently, appeals are billed outside of the contract with Gabriel. Contract negotiations for CHIPS cases will resume tomorrow at the Ways & Means Committee. Sawatzke understood that appeals will be included in future contracts. It was the consensus that discussion on the annual payment and the two claims should be brought forth at the Ways & Means Committee Meeting. Russek moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Correspondence was received from MCIT (Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust) announcing its 2010 Annual Meeting on 12-06-10 at 1:00 P.M. at the St. Cloud Civic Center. Wright County’s official voting delegate is Norman and the alternate is Russek. Norman said that if the Board wishes to change the delegate and alternate, a response is required by 11-22-10. Otherwise, a response is not necessary. Eichelberg moved to keep the same delegates, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
Norman presented a draft Public Hearing Notice and documentation from departments for the Fees-For-Service Public Hearing scheduled for 11-16-10 at 10:00 A.M. Yesterday, the Human Services Board decided to forward to today’s County Board Meeting fee change requests for Human Services for inclusion in the Public Hearing Notice. Those fee change requests will be included as part of the 11-16-10 Public Hearing. Mattson questioned whether the Quarterly Training Certificate Fee for Adult Foster Care was proposed at $4/certificate or $5/certificate. Russek explained that the proposed fee is $5/certificate. It was explained at the Human Services Board Meeting that 80 participants are expected or revenue of $400.00. Eichelberg moved to approve the draft Public Hearing Notice with the addition of the requested fee changes for Human Services. The motion was seconded by Russek and carried 5-0.
Steve Berg, Emergency Management Coordinator, requested Board approval of the upgraded Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and authorization for signatures on the Certification of Plan Approval. The EOP is on a four year review cycle required by the State. The Plan has been through a four-year cycle which includes: Regional Review Committee (upgrade), Peer Review (update), HSEM State Review (update), and County Board Review (update). This year the EOP is slated for a Regional Review. The Regional Review Committee is made up of 6-7 members located throughout the State who review the Plan, especially SARA Title III areas. The EOP has been through an upgrade that included changing the Plan and the format. The basic Plan and the operations area are included in a 240-page book. This shorter version of the 500-page resource manual is felt to be an easier tool to access for the incident commander and others involved. A CD will be made of the EOP once approved by the Board. Russek moved to authorize signatures on the Wright County Emergency Operations Plan Verification of Plan Approval. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0. The Regional Review of the EOP will take place on 11-03-10 at 9:30 A.M. at the LEC.
Tom Salkowski, Planning & Zoning Administrator, recommended that the Board accept the Findings and Recommendations of the Planning Commission for denial of the following rezoning and authorize signatures on the Notice and Order of Denial: Jerry F. Rachel (Corinna Twp.), on a 4/2 vote the Planning Commission recommended denial of the request to rezone from AG General Agricultural and S-2 Residential-Recreational Shorelands to R-1 Urban-Rural Transitional and S-2. Russek serves on the Planning Commission and said the Findings and Recommendations were accepted by the Planning Commission a couple of weeks ago. The request did not fit the criteria for development so the Planning Commission turned it down. Russek moved to accept the Findings and Recommendations of the Planning Commission and to authorize signatures on the Notice and Order of Denial. The motion was seconded by Thelen. Salkowski asked that the record reflect that Jerry Rachel’s representative was provided a copy of the Findings at the Planning Commission Meeting. A copy of today’s Findings will be mailed as well. The motion carried 5-0.
On a motion by Russek, second by Eichelberg, all voted to authorize attendance at the Transportation Alliance Membership Meeting on 11-03-10 in Minneapolis.
Russek recently attended the AMC District V Meeting. Russek said discussion at the meeting related to budgets, levies, and contract negotiations amongst the various counties.
A Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 10-11-10. At today’s County Board Meeting, Russek moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:
I. DISCUSS NEGOTIATIONS WITH CORINNA TOWNSHIP.
Salkowski distributed a copy of his memo, dated 10-11-10, titled, “Committee Of the Whole Meeting (Negotiations with Corinna Township)”. The first few paragraphs of the memo (see attached) provide a synopsis of the content of the meetings with the negotiating committee (NC) that is comprised of Salkowski, Thelen, Corinna Planning Commission Chair Charlotte Quiggle, and Corinna Consultant Ben Oleson.
Salkowski stated that he’d like to clarify that the County Board has not adopted anything yet.
Salkowski, as part of his memo dated 10-11-10, presented a bulleted list of questions and concerns (page 3 of memo) that the County Planning & Zoning staff have in regard to ongoing discussions with the Township. He stated that he is seeking direction from the County Board. He noted that any final agreement will be subject to review and approval by the County Board and staff.
Salkowski’s bulleted concerns are listed below in italics with comments from the Committee posted thereafter:
Does the County Board agree with the staff approach that we should be building a partnership and tying the County and Township together in efforts to serve our common constituents as opposed to working toward “total independence” for the Township? And if so, can we still work toward a solution that satisfies both sides?
Salkowski stated that there is a difference in approach to the relationship between the County and the Township. He stated that he prefers to form a partnership. Both entities serve the same people. Salkowski stated that he feels it is fair to say that the Township is looking for more independence and yet is looking to contract with the County for certain services: sewer and building inspections. He stated that how the County proceeds is dependent on the approach: partnership vs. contractual arrangement. If the County wishes to work toward fulfilling the Township’s wishes to be independent, the County should charge for the services and push all of the costs to the Township. Salkowski stated that remaining as building and sewer inspector is a way that the County can review its zoning regulations.
Sawatzke stated that he questions the context of the language used in Salkowski’s memo. He stated that the partnership between the County and Township has always existed. The goal is to try to rebuild it. He stated that he sees the partnership between the County and the Township worthy of maintaining. Thelen noted that the relationship has to be built on both sides. Thelen commented that she feels both parties are working together to establish a mutual method of moving forward. This process includes sharing data and providing consultation. She described the relationship as being “dualistic”. She stated that this shouldn’t be an adversarial relationship. The two parties should want to create a model for the future so when there is a complete turnover of the County Board, there is a map defining a path on how to make decisions. The decisions would be governed by the established text. Salkowski stated that the NC is trying to develop a model for future decisions. Sawatzke stated that this process will bring any friction to the surface. It is to the benefit of all to get this all out in the open. Salkowski stated that he certainly didn’t mean for the County’s future relationship with the Township to be adversarial. Russek stated that the County is attempting to negotiate with the Township; not be adversarial.
Sawatzke asked how operating at status-quo would look in the long-term. He stated that he is not as concerned about inspections as he is about a consistent policy in regard to the management of shoreland zoning. If the County no longer has shoreland authority, inconsistent administration of policies could create problems.
Norman referred to Salkowski’s memo regarding the discussion on audio recordings of the Town Board meetings that address P&Z issues. He inquired on the record retention schedule. Salkowski stated that he could find this out. Norman explained that the audio recordings of County Board Meetings are maintained for six months per the State.
Should the County “turnover” of shoreland zoning be contingent on an agreement that the County remains as building and sewer inspector? If not, would a two-year contract for services be acceptable? One year?
Salkowski explained that the County would report to the DNR that Corinna Township should be the shoreland management agent once an agreement is made.
Salkowski stated his initial idea that the agreement by the County to turn over the shoreland administration was dependent on the Township hiring the County to perform sewer and building inspections long term. He felt that the County, for its protection, should work out a contingency agreement. However, the NC rejected this idea. Salkowski stated that he is concerned that once the County Board turns over the shoreland management to the Township, the Township could terminate the County’s contract. He is concerned about receiving some assurance that the County will always have some involvement in zoning related responsibilities. Salkowski questioned whether a one-year contract with an automatic one-year renewal clause would be sufficient.
Sawatzke stated that it is his recollection that shoreland administration had come before the County Board who had unanimously decided that Corinna’s interpretation and enforcement did not rise to the level required by the State. Sawatzke questioned what would happen if after a one-year contract, Corinna decided not to use County resources. Salkowski stated that the discussions at the NC meetings have been very frank and open. He stated that it was clear that the Township would not accept any contingency. He cautioned that if the conditions of the partnership changed (i.e. the Township terminated the County’s inspection services), then the shoreland management responsibilities would not be reverted to the County.
Salkowski stated that he feels the County should have the right to terminate the terms of the agreement if the Township terminates the County’s services.
Thelen stated that from a Township position, the idea of creating a contingent agreement with the County is adversarial. She stated that Corinna Township would assume the County’s services for permitting because it is convenient. Sawatzke stated that the agreement would not be balanced. He stated that the County will not agree to give up shoreland management in exchange for being allowed to administer permits for one year. Thelen stated that it would be in the best interest of the Township to be collaborative. Both parties should be equal participants working together toward the overall goal of protecting the lakes. She stated that the Township isn’t looking to “trick” the County. Sawatzke stated that he is not suggesting trickery would be done by either party. He stated that he is concerned about the future of the partnership after the County Board has turned over its membership. Russek commented that the members of the Township Board would also change.
Salkowski stated that he thinks the County has a very good case, based on laws and the DNR’s S.O.N.A.R. document, to maintain the shoreland management duties. The County would be justified to do so. He stated that he does not feel it is a fair trade to completely turnover shoreland management to the Township on a promise of one-year of inspection/permitting services.
Russek stated that the County does not want to go to court again. He stated that both sides need to negotiate. Salkowski stated that the County did lose the building permit case and everybody is aware of that. He stated that he feels that in terms of coming to an agreement, the County has given up more than it has received. He stated that giving up shoreland management for a one-year service agreement does not seem fair. Thelen stated that it is a tough call for the County to make demands at this particular juncture. She noted that the County inspectors are very valued. She stated that she would assume that a one-year agreement with an automatic renewal would be reasonable. Salkowski stated that there are two sides to this agreement. He stated that he questions why the Township wouldn’t want a long-term agreement if they feel the County’s inspection services are beneficial. Thelen stated that if both sides are working toward building trust, she doesn’t understand why there needs to be a requirement of more than a year.
Sawatzke stated that Thelen’s language is unbalanced. She refers to the Township as “negotiating” and the County as “demanding”. Thelen stated that she gets the impression that anything less than a two-year agreement is deemed as a “deal breaker”. Thelen stated that she wasn’t at the NC meeting on 10-7-10 and is not sure of the intent of either party. She noted that it should be each party’s highest goal to work together. Salkowski defended that he has not suggested that the length of the agreement between the County and the Township is a “deal breaker”. He stated that he is simply asking for the guidance of the County Board and issuing his opinion. He stated that the two parties should be partners. He originally asked for a permanent arrangement which was decreased to two years. However, the Township will not consider a two-year agreement and have only entertained a one-year contract. He stated that the length of the agreement has become a sticking point; however, he never used the word “deal breaker”.
Norman stated that in terms of the contract length, Sawatzke and Russek can relate this discussion to labor negotiations. He stated that the reason they try for three-year contracts is because it lends itself to stability. A one-year contract doesn’t give adequate time to monitor and evaluate the relationship and its terms. He noted that Corinna Township has a lot of seasonal activity. By the time August and September rolls around, it is already time for renewal discussions to determine how both parties will move forward. He stated that longer term contracts are in the best interest of both parties. Salkowski stated that in this economy, a one-year agreement may make it difficult to judge how the relationship and its terms are working.
Salkowski stated that it is his opinion that a two-year agreement is a very short timeframe and a huge concession by the County. Thelen stated that during a discussion with Carlson, it is her understanding that there would be an opportunity of a multi-year contract. The Township is excited to get the County inspectors back. She explained that she is very close to this subject matter because this area is in her district.
Should the County neglect to require sewer permits until the issue is resolved? (Staff is reluctant to do so, especially now that the Township contractor has been advised that the Township will not renew the contract.) Would an agreement that the County and Township split the cost of reimbursing past “double permits” for sewers be acceptable?
Sawatzke stated that the law gives the County the shoreland area. He stated that it is to the benefit of the taxpayers to have the County issue the sewer permits. The applicant should not be stuck in the middle. Thelen stated that she would like to clarify that the shoreland is not the sewers. The discussion should be about the placement of the sewers and the buildings on the landscape of the shoreland. Sawatzke stated that regardless who does the sewer inspections; the shoreland is within the County’s authority. The question is who should have the authority to do the sewers. There is a misunderstanding of who has the legal right to the sewers.
Salkowski stated that the double permitting of sewers has not been resolved. He stated that nobody is in favor of requiring two sewer permits. By operating at status quo, Corinna Township residents would have one additional step they have to complete. The County requires a permit and hearing for variances in shoreland areas. The Township does too.
Thelen stated that she assumed that the issue of double permitting was non-existent because the Township would immediately be contracting services with the County. She stated that double-permitting is an issue with the constituents. Thelen stated that per the PCA, it is not the County’s role to issue sewer permits in the shoreland areas. The County does not have authority.
Sawatzke asked whether double permitting is legal. Kryzer stated that it is essentially a double public hearing fee. The person is going through two public bodies. He stated that there isn’t a law out there that says this can’t be done. If status quo were to continue, he proposed that the fees for the two hearings could be combined. Salkowski stated that if the County and the Township were to work toward a partnership, combining the fees and jointly sending out one set of notices could be a viable option. He stated that people do not like going through two sets of hearings.
Sawatzke asked how Corinna is different than Monticello Township. He commented that Monticello Township residents do not have additional meetings and processes. Salkowski noted that some townships have a planning commission who serve in an advisory role to the Town Board and County.
Sawatzke asked Kryzer for his opinion. Kryzer stated that he will stick with his original opinion which is weighted on a risk assessment. He stated that the County has not received a cease and desist order. He stated that there is a major difference between sewer permits and building permits. He stated that he would still encourage that the County focus on a moratorium of issuing sewer permits until an agreement is finalized. Thelen asked if Kryzer’s measure of risk assessment was determining whether the County is at risk of being sued.
Sawatzke asked whether the County would reduce its claim to the zoning administration if it were to quit requiring sewer permitting. Kryzer stated that it technically would. Salkowski stated that there shouldn’t be a lot of sewer permits from now until the first of the year. There was a consensus on the Board to split the cost of reimbursing past “double permits” for sewers.
Will the County accept anything less than its current fee schedule as contract payments for building and sewer permit services? What if the Township can provide services such as data entry?
Salkowski stated that his initial assumption was that the County should expect the same permit fees as it does from any other townships. Thelen explained she understood that Metro West charges less than the County. The Township is retaining a part of the fees it collects from its applicants after paying Metro West for its services. The question remains whether the Township should be able to charge more than the fee schedule dictates. Salkowski noted that if the Township is doing some of the data entry, perhaps they should be able to split part of the fee with the County. He stated otherwise, he doesn’t know how else to justify charging less for a permit than other townships.
Salkowski stated that he would bring this back to the County Board after further discussion.
Is there any objection, if the Township is willing, to establishing a “satellite” of the County’s record system in the Town Hall to allow access to County records and perhaps some data entry by the Township?
Salkowski stated that tying the records management system together could also work toward a beneficial partnership. Salkowski stated that the Township did agree that they wouldn’t perform the recording function. There is a concern about impacting a property owner’s title. It is agreed that only the County would record these types of actions. Salkowski stated that he spoke with Bill Swing, I.T. Director, about the possibilities of establishing a “satellite” of the County’s records system in the Town Hall. Swing does think it is viable to set up a record keeping system which would allow them immediate access to the County’s records. This would save a lot on mileage for Township staff. The Township would be able to see everything Planning & Zoning is able to see. This may alleviate some of the work for the County, justifying the Township to keep some of the permit fees.
Salkowski asked whether the County Board foresees any issues with setting the Township up with the County’s data system. Russek stated that it sounded as if it would be a necessary function. Sawatzke agreed. Salkowski stated that he would assume that some records could be viewed, but not altered. Mattson asked whether the Township would go through the same training as County staff. Salkowski stated yes. He stated that they would be held to the same licensing and training costs.
Salkowski stated that with any new system, there is a concern that someone could deliberately cause harm. He assumed that there would be certain safeguards put into place.
Are there any suggestions for recourse if the Township proceeds to issue any permit which the County believes clearly violates County standards? (While a lawsuit is always an option, it should be a last resort.)
Salkowski stated that by definition, a variance is a variance from the law. Granting a variance is a judgment call that could vary from the Township to the County. Salkowski stated that the inspections process would grant the County an opportunity for input. He stated that the County would not be the variance authority since the hearings would no longer be held at the County. He stated that trust has yet to be fully developed between the two parties. He is concerned regarding the recourse the County would have if the County would have a concern regarding a permit and the Township issued the permit anyway. He stated that it would be nice if the two parties could agree on a way to resolve this before an issue arises. Salkowski noted that counties have a separate Board of Adjustment that does not allow any elected officials as members. Townships can appoint the Town Board as the Board of Adjustment. He also explained that a County Planning Commission has final say on conditional use permits, but the Town Board is the final authority on all decisions at the Township.
Russek stated that the same concern still remains. The Township needs to be as strict as the County as it relates to ordinance administration.
Salkowski stated that it is a very unlikely event that the Township would violate County standards; however, it is best to discuss how to address this before it becomes an issue. Thelen stated that there needs to be a discussion on proper checks and balances. Plat review and approve has been briefly discussed. The County Board must sign any plat approved by the Township, but the reason for the signature, and what the County can expect before signing is not clear in law. Since the Township has no park system, staff has suggested that park dedication fees still accrue (subject to legal requirements) to the County. How critical is this to the County Board?
Salkowski stated that the County has not had a Township plat to review in two years. He stated that plats will resume someday. He stated that there is a difference in opinion. Some say that the County’s role is purely a signatory function. However, there is a potential that the County would decide it may not sign off on a plat for cause.
Salkowski stated that County Park Dedication Fees go into a dedicated budget. The Fees are to be spent in the area it is collected. Technically, the fund must be spent in a park within Corinna Township. The money has to be spent on land or capital improvement of a park. Salkowski noted there are no Township parks. He stated that he would like this item to be resolved before the next plat review is required. Sawatzke stated that perhaps this is something the Township should decide. He stated that there are certain advantages for County ownership and maintenance of parks. The County generally has deeper pockets to take care of this type of responsibility.
Prior court cases make it clear that the County and County Attorney have no obligation to enforce any township ordinances. Based on the Township’s approach being a desire for complete independence, staff assumes that they will want all violations, complaints, enforcement matters and legal issues referred to the Township and Township Attorney for action. County Staff is proceeding with the understanding that without a separate contract between the Township and County Attorney, all complaints, violations, enforcement issues, etc. will be referred to the Township. Are there comments or discussion on this issue? Obviously the County Attorney may have an opinion on this matter also.
Salkowski stated that this topic has not been discussed. The County does not enforce Township ordinances. The Township would be treated as a city in this regard. Sawatzke stated that perhaps this is Corinna’s role to determine.
Salkowski stated that if the County Board does not object, the NC will continue to meet. He would certainly come back to the County Board for review of any final agreement. The goal was to complete a draft of implementation by November 1st. He stated that a review would most likely occur mid to late November. He stated that if discussions and negotiations were to go really well, the agreement would be ready for final review before Christmas.
Mattson asked whether the minutes of today’s meeting would be discussed at a NC meeting. Salkowski stated that they should be provided a copy of the minutes.
Norman stated that there are no formal recommendations as a result of today’s Committee Meeting.
Russek stated that he is in favor of a trial period if the Township agrees to a one or two-year agreement. The trial period would be for both the County and the Township. It is his opinion that this should be a negotiating point. Sawatzke noted that an agreement must be agreed on by both sides. He stated that he would be in favor of a trial period. If the County is not given building and sewer inspection services, then the County should be allowed to take back the shoreland administration. Eichelberg stated that he would be in favor of a two-year agreement, or a one-year trial with renewal.
Salkowski stated that this is a trust building exercise.
(End of 10-11-10 Committee of The Whole Minutes) Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, was present to discuss and review a recommendation from the County Parks Commission to not grant ownership rights to Corinna Township for two roads, Lathrop Avenue and Kramer Avenue, and that they maintain their status quo. The motion includes that any maintenance of these areas performed by Corinna Township is done so with the understanding that the Township has no ownership rights. Mattice said that the Parks Commission held meetings on 9-13-10 and 10-11-10 on the issue. Today, Mattice provided a map of the area, minutes from meetings of the Parks Commission, Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment, and letters from the County Attorney’s Office. Mattice explained that on 9-13-10, Corinna Township requested the Parks Commission grant the Township ownership of a private easement in Clearwater Pleasant Park. Others that attended the Parks Commission Meeting on this issue included residents, Township Supervisors, Rose Thelen (Commissioner), Tom Salkowski (Wright County Planning & Zoning Administrator), and Steve Jobe (County Surveyor). Review of the records shows a private easement is involved. In 2002, the County received its last bill from the Township for Lathrop Avenue. Since that time, the Township has provided grading and snow removal on Lathrop Avenue. Mattice thought the Township may have completed some snow removal last year on Kramer Avenue. Mattice said the Parks Commission reviewed this information. There is an easement involved near the peninsula and involves two property owners, Diane and Dave Wilke and Bonnie and Dan Shay. From the Surveyor’s review, the first easement ends at the Wilke property line. Mattice said the letters from the County Attorney and Findings from the Planning & Zoning Office have denied certain requests and ownership rights of that road to the Township. Mattice said upon review of the information, it is his opinion that most of the letters only deal with the segment of Kramer Avenue along the lake, not Lathrop Avenue. Research reflects that there is also an easement on Lathrop Avenue. The Parks Commission recommends to the County Board to deny any ownership rights to the Township for Lathrop and Kramer Avenues and that they maintain their status quo (i.e., this is a private easement and that maintenance/improvements are the responsibility of the easement owners). If Corinna Township wants to continue to contract with private property owners for maintenance, it is with the understanding that any work is authorized through the Parks Department (gravel to fill potholes, grading, tree pruning, culvert replacement, etc.). Mattice said the Parks Department is willing to work with the Township as they have in the past, but it would be with the understanding that the Township has no ownership rights to these private easements and that landowners agree that Corinna Township can charge them for maintenance that is being done.
Russek stated that in 2004, the Planning Commission denied a request from Bonnie and Dan Shay for fill on Kramer Avenue relating to a larger home they are trying to build. He felt this was before the road even became an issue. Even if the road becomes a Township road, Russek said the Shays may not be able to build. He was unsure whether the Board of Adjustment will go along with their variance requests. He also was unsure whether the Planning Commission will change their minds on fill. Thelen felt today’s action is separate from the variance requests and the building of the home. She said the request involves the County granting ownership rights to the Township. She inquired whether the Surveyor checked into what the area was like prior to the County Park’s existence. She said before there was a County Park, the road existed and she wondered if that was relevant to the discussion. Mattice said the County Surveyor reviewed the Certificate of Survey, which has all of the deeds recorded and identifies the existing traveled easement. At that time, it was an easement dedicated access road for the in holdings.
Mattice said this involves the natural area of the Park. The goal is to have 80% of the Park natural. The Clearwater side is the more natural side and the Pleasant Lake side is more developed. Future plans may include a nature trail but does not include development of the area. Mattice said the road does not need to be maintained for the Parks Department’s use. The Parks Commission felt that since this is a private easement, snow removal would be the responsibility of the landowners. That was the way it was prior to 2002. Mattice said the Parks Department has placed gravel on Kramer Avenue even though it is a private easement. This is because the public uses the area. The winter months require the most maintenance and Parks staff do not work weekends for snow removal. Mattice stated that if it is a private easement, it is the responsibility of the private easement holders to maintain the road. Thelen asked if the Parks Commission looked at the request separately from whether any of the private easement owners would be willing to turn it over to the Township, and whether the shoreland requirements came into play in that as well. Mattice said this was correct.
Thelen said they have been looking at this for a while and recalled a meeting in the Spring. One of the discussions was that the Township had been maintaining it for a number of years and because of this, they thought they owned the road. In this case, the Township cannot take a road that is an easement through public park property through adverse possession. She said this is a private easement, similar to a driveway, and is a very difficult situation. Past records may not be clear on who owns what and the easements. Mattice indicated that the Attorney’s Office has worked on various quit claim deeds to adjust property lines as necessary. There are still some discrepancies on property lines.
Russek asked whether the Park property was purchased with grant funding. He felt if it had been the County may be limited on selling, giving away, or doing anything with it. Mattice stated the property was bought by the Minneapolis Suburban Regional Park District (now Three Rivers Parks). The District had Federal money into the project. Wright County bought it for what the District’s taxpayers had into it, so it became Wright County property. Mattice contacted the State on the possibility of giving this road to the Township. Mattice said the State indicated would be fine as long the plat reflects it as an access easement, a dedicated access, and the road is kept as an access road. If the road is improved to 66’ wide, including a thoroughfare and a bridge, then it changes its use. If the use stays the same, it doesn’t matter who owns the access road. Mattice indicated that the easement road width varies anywhere from 33’ to 80’.
Bonnie Shay lives at the end of Kramer Avenue. Shay stated the road is heavily used in the winter by fishermen as there is an access to the lake. She estimated there are 50-100 cars per day. One suggestion by Shay is to put a gate across the road where the road comes to a “Y”. Shay said that the Parks Commission indicated the road should not be maintained at the County’s cost. She felt the road should either be shut off or maintained by the County as it is used by the public. She stated that use of the road by the public requires gravel, grading and winter maintenance. Shay felt the relationship between the County and Corinna Township is contentious. She thought the road issue was just another matter that had come about in the past couple of years. At this point, she said they plan to rebuild their cabin and did not feel the request today had anything to do with that. The public has used the access to the lake since she has been a resident (past 13 years). She did not have a problem with the fishermen using the road. Shay felt that if it is used as a public road, then one of the government entities should be maintaining it. She felt they were caught in the middle of a contentious relationship between the two government agencies. Shay said Mattice indicated that the Parks budget does not have funding available for maintenance. She felt this may be the case with all government agencies.
Sawatzke stated the County has not told the Township they cannot plow. Shay asked whether the County was willing to pay the Township to do so. Considerable discussion followed between Sawatzke and Shay regarding whose responsibility it should be to maintain an easement road. Shay’s opinion is that the public is utilizing the road so a government entity should maintain it or it could be closed off. Sawatzke noted that the Shays have an easement through Parks land to access their property. There was also discussion relating to the denial of a permit application made by Shays in 2004 relating to their home. The denial was for fill of the road. Shay indicated this had nothing to do with the road maintenance issue or access. Thelen said Shay raises a good point that it is hard to separate issues between the County and Corinna Township. She suggested that the County collaborate with the Township and maintain the road at least to the point where the public uses it, even though this is not an official lake access. Shay said although winter is the hardest on the road, the public uses the road to access the lake during the summer as well. Russek indicated that if he purchased property where the only access to it was by an easement, he would not expect anyone else to maintain the road. Shay’s response was that they should have the right to block off the road. Russek stated that the road can’t be blocked to others who have an easement to access their properties. He understood everyone else feels the road is great. Shay said this was not correct. Sawatzke said that just because the Shays have an easement to use the road, they would not have the ability to block off the road to use by others.
Mattice said the lake access is not an official DNR access but it is being used by the public. The Parks Department used to have a garage in this area to store maintenance materials. Due to disrepair, the shed was torn down and a shed was constructed at Public Works. Since that time, the Parks Department has not completed any maintenance in this area. The Parks Department has worked with property owners on maintenance because of the public using the access. He said property owners would like to see the road maintained in the fashion it has been in the past couple of years. He said the County Board will have to determine whether they want to establish a fund to maintain the road. He felt Thelen was bringing forth the question of what would be fair and equitable in this situation. Mattice said the Parks Commission does not want to grant ownership of the easement to the Township due to the uniqueness of the area. They do not want the Township to have free will with the area. The Parks Commission would rather work with the Township with the idea that ownership of the park land is the County’s. Tim Krims, Somers Lake, cited the past relationship between the County and Corinna Township and felt this was an opportunity for the County and Township to start rebuilding this relationship through trust and cooperation.
Sawatzke asked whether the Parks Department would require a road back to this area if there were no homes. Mattice stated that if there were no landowners in this area, there could be public pressure for a road to the access. In the past, a public access through the DNR was considered but due to the sensitivity of the area in the lake, it was not completed. Thelen suggested the Board consider accepting the Parks Commission recommendations, but separating out or referring to committee the possibility of an agreement with either the property owners or Corinna Township for reimbursement or share of the maintenance costs. Mattice said when he first started with the County, they did reimburse the Township for gravel and grading. That ended and he was unsure as to why. It may have been that the Township felt it was their road. Shay interjected that in the Township’s opinion, it was their road. That is when they felt it was a dedicated access road and the Township also shared in the cost. The Township provided services and gravel at a reduced rate. She said because there was an argument on who was going to be responsible for maintenance costs, the Township decided to take care of it themselves. That was in 2002. Sawatzke asked how many properties use this road in the winter. Shay felt there were at least five.
Mattice said there are two issues. The first is ownership rights of the road. The Parks Commission discussed this and has presented their recommendation. The second is the maintenance obligation, which the Parks Commission did not discuss. The County Board discussed responsibilities of maintenance for easement roads. It was suggested that the County Board take a road tour of the area. Also discussed was access to the area in an emergency. Shay said that if the road is maintained by the Township, there would not be a problem with an emergency vehicle gaining access to the private properties. Sawatzke felt the same type of situation may be in other areas of the County as well, where private property owners are responsible for maintenance of private roads. Shay said she has no issue of plowing the road and will plow from the access point in. Her concern is with the road being heavily utilized by winter fishermen. She asked that the County take care of plowing for the public. Mattice said there is one year-round public access on the lake operated by the DNR. Mattice is aware of one private access on the lake, that is not open year round, and the property owner charges to park boats and trailers. Mattice said his department hears from the public that this area off from Kramer Avenue is the only area to access that portion of the lake during the winter.
Mattice read the following from the 10-11-10 Parks Commission Minutes: “It was also the consensus of the Parks Commission that any maintenance performed by the Township be performed in consultation with Wright County Parks Department Staff, and that placement of fill, other than routine placement of aggregate materials necessary to maintain these segments at current levels, will not be allowed.” Mattice said this was the consensus of the Parks Commission if the County does want to continue with the Township plowing and grading the road. He felt the two issues should be taken separately. He suggested sending the maintenance issue to a Committee Of The Whole meeting for discussion. This would include a tour of the area and other Parks projects that have been completed in the past couple of years. Thelen moved to approve this recommendation, seconded by Sawatzke. It was clarified that the motion is to accept the Parks Commission recommendation and to tour the area to further determine whether there can be cooperative maintenance of the area. The motion carried 5-0. Russek moved to schedule a Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 11-8-10 at 9:00 A.M. (meet at Public Works). The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0.
AHC Media LLC. $239.00
Allina Hospitals & Clinics 850.00
Allina OCC Med 198.50
American Probation & Parol 250.00
Ameripride Services 168.21
Bound Tree Medical LLC 326.52
Boyer Truck Parts 621.65
Buffalo Floral & Landscaping 160.00
Buffalo Township 684.60
Burdas Towing 108.34
Canon Business Solutions 164.00
Carefree Lawn 488.00
Center Point Energy 691.12
Centra Sota Coop Cokato 146.38
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 43,787.85
Chamberlain Oil Co. 2,602.09
Chatham Township 854.50
Climate Air 1,167.63
Construction Services Dive 339.86
CPS Technology Solutions 248.33
Cub Foods 158.72
Dell Marketing LP 7,685.31
Franklin E. Denn 344.00
DS Solutions Inc. 521.02
Election Systems & Software 5,799.51
EMCS Inc. 450.00
Franklin Township 1,167.90
Fyles Excavating & Honey W 1,050.00
Cathleen Gabriel 200.00
Gale-Tec Engineering Inc. 8,376.50
Gateway Companys Inc. 379.40
Gould Towing 427.50
Granite Electronics 100.00
Tom Hackenmueller 125.00
City of Hanover 1,648.69
Hedlund Plumbing 1,325.00
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 4,643.88
Jolanta Howard 100.00
Interstate Battery Systems 586.42
Karels Towing 166.09
Travis Laage 125.00
Michael Lindquist 345.75
Carol H. Lostetter 600.00
M-R Sign Company Inc. 5,956.72
Brian Malinski 252.50
Maple Lake Lumber Company 871.81
Marco Inc. 257.57
Martin Marietta Aggregates 1,917.57
Charles Marx 125.00
Memory Suppliers Inc. 340.00
The Metro Group Inc. 1,324.90
Middleville Township 551.00
MN Copy Systems 120.31
MN Counties Computer Coop 112.50
MN Counties Intergovernmen 6,100.00
MN Onsite Wastewater Assn 340.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 133.59
Monticello Township 1,306.60
Morries Parts & Service Group 1,035.60
Nagell Appraisal & Consult 3,600.00
New River Medical Center 800.00
Office Depot 2,522.65
Pleasant Hills Saddle Shop 536.30
Quetel Corporation 2,000.00
Frank Ramacciotti 300.00
Thomas W. Richards 100.00
Rockford Township 2,342.15
City of Rockford 2,275.00
RS Eden 846.45
Safelite Fulfillment Inc. 455.43
Claire Savitski 1,327.59
Shell Fleet Plus 304.30
SHI International Corp 340.94
City of South Haven 279.20
Southside Township 763.60
Star West 138.00
State of MN-Office Enterpr 370.00
Stockholm Township 375.50
TDS Telecom 259.40
Trimin Government Solutions 2,569.85
Twin City Seed Company 186.12
Vance Brothers Inc. 2,374.86
Verizon Wireless 743.49
Voss Lighting 520.83
Wes W. Workman 125.00
Wright Co. Highway Dept. 2,003.34
Wright Hennepin Coop Elec 716.14
Wright Hennepin Electric 964.03
Xcel Energy 763.22
Zee Service Company 2,185.59
Ziegler Inc. 237.10
27 Payments less than $100 1,187.67
Final total $146,268.27
The meeting adjourned at 10:27 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Dec. 20, 2010.