WRIGHT COUNTY BOARD MINUTES
FEBRUARY 1, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the 1-25-11 County Board Minutes.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.
On a motion by Mattson, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: M. Erickson, Atty.; J. Wilson, Hwy.; J. Putnam, Parks; L. Schallock, Recorder; A. Boverhuis, T. Coon, J. Hermanson, B. Johnson, K. Kramer, Sher.
2. O/T Report, Periods Ending 1-07-11 & 1-21-11.
3. Schedule Closed Session Of The Personnel Committee Of The Whole For 10:30 A.M., 2-15-11, With Dr. Susan Herreid, Sand Creek Group, To Evaluate The Performance Of Individuals Subject To The Authority Of The Board.
1. Approve 2011 Tobacco License Renewal For Pete’s Grocery (Waverly City).
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the December Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines for review. Hiivala said he forwarded to the Board some changes that have occurred since the report was distributed. Hiivala will schedule a Budget Committee Of The Whole Meeting in the near future to go over the 2010 year in review. He would like to meet with Richard Norman, County Coordinator, prior to that meeting. Norman referenced the guidelines and said that a couple of the departments have expenditures out of the Compliance Equipment Fund. He did not see corresponding revenues in those departments. Hiivala said that there were transfers made both in November and again recently. This was reflected in the updated information that was sent to the Board. Norman referenced Page 13, Revenues, State Payments in Lieu, Natural Resources, which reflects a budget of $58,000 and revenues of $253,000. He asked whether this was a one-time aberration or something that would be seen in the future. Hiivala said he is working with staff to analyze the Federal in Lieu of Tax and State in Lieu of Tax to come up with a better understanding of what to anticipate for those revenues. On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the December Revenue/Expenditure Guidelines.
Hiivala requested approval of the ACS Finance & General Government Contract and IFS Contracts. This includes a ratification of the accounting programs (payroll, treasurer’s financial system, cash register, IFS). Included in this year’s contract is the IFS Golden Wiki online support. The effective dates of the contracts are as follows: 1) ACS Finance & General Government Contract effective 1-01-11 through 12-31-13; 2) IFS Contracts including the Trimin contract for maintenance and support effective 1-01-11 through 12-31-15); and 3) IFS Golden Wiki online support effective from the date 30 days after the County is live on IFSpi. The Golden Wiki online support is reviewed annually. Sawatzke noted there were no contracts included in the packets and asked about cost of the programs. Hiivala said there is no change in the cost of the contract with Trimin. Golden Wiki is new at a cost of $30/month. The ACS payment includes: Paymate, $3,707.55 (previously paid $3,331); the Treasurer’s Financial, $1,590.75 (previously paid $1,429); Motor Vehicle and DNR Off Road will both remain at $200 each; Cash Register, $2243.85 (previously paid $2,016). This results in an approximate overall annual increase of $700 and will provide one more service than is currently used. Eichelberg moved to approve the contracts, seconded by Thelen, carried unanimously.
Russek provided a Ditch 34 update. The Ditch Committee met last week with a recommendation to convene a Committee Of The Whole Meeting of the County Board to discuss the fee which should be established. Eichelberg moved to schedule a Ditch Committee Of The Whole Meeting for 2-22-11 at 10:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0.
Hiivala said the Auditor/Treasurer’s Office is receiving a lot of passport applications. He would like to discuss with the Building Committee the possibility of mounting some tables on the wall opposite their Office. The tables would be used to fill out the passport applications and could be used for voting as well. Hiivala has received an estimate of $1,800 to complete the work. Thelen moved to refer this issue to the Building Committee, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0.
The claims listing was reviewed. Russek referenced Page 13, Titan Energy Systems ($172.51) for services for the Howard Lake Tower and questioned what this related to. Todd Hoffman, Sheriff Department, said the claim relates to the repair of the generator on a Sheriff’s Office radio tower at CR 5 and 51st Street. Russek referred to a claim on Page 10, Cenex Fleetcard ($429.53). The listing reflects fuel charges of $423.84 and a $5.69 late fee. The Commissioners agreed that the late fee would not be paid. Mattson moved to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit. The motion includes authorizing the payment of $423.84 for the fuel but not the $5.69 late fee. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0.
Marc Mattice, Parks Administrator, said a request was received from the Pleasant Lake Improvement Association for a contribution toward their Curly Leaf Pondweed treatments. The treatment area is the southwest bay area and between the boat landing and the beach at the County Regional Park. The cost of the treatments has been at about $500/acre, including the permit. Costs are currently being covered by the City of Annandale, Wright County, the Heart of the Lakes Triathalon, and the homeowners. Mattice stated the County contributed $1,000 in 2006, $1,000 in 2008, and $700 in 2009 (funded from Parks Department Line Item 6301). Thelen moved to approve the expenditure of $1,000 with the funding source being the Parks Department Line Item 6301. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg. Russek said there are many lakes in the County. If the County Board decides to start funding pond weed cleanup, he felt they may get bombarded with requests. The motion carried 4-1 with Russek casting the nay vote.
Mattice requested the Board schedule a Public Hearing to review the Grant Applications being prepared for submittal to the Non-Metro & Legacy Park Grant Programs. Applications are being prepared for funding for a Phase 4 acquisition at Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park and for the addition of 20 acres adjacent to Robert Ney Regional Park. The County Board authorized Mattice on 1-04-11 to prepare/submit the grant applications for the Bertram Chain of Lakes Phase 4 acquisition funding. At the 7-27-10 County Board Meeting, the County Board authorized Mattice to prepare/submit the necessary grant application for the addition of 20 acres at Robert Ney Regional Park. Russek questioned the acreage in Ney Park. Mattice explained the acreage lies between the main unit and east unit, south of the easement trail. There is about $38,000 in the Ney Park account and Mattice hopes this will suffice for the match for that acquisition. This is a Legacy Grant with a 75/25 split. Sawatzke moved to schedule a Public Hearing for 2-22-11 at 9:30 A.M. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0. Mattice said the grant applications have already been voted on by the County Board. Today’s action covers the Public Hearing process. After the Public Hearing, Mattice will request the Board adopt a resolution for submittal. Mattice will publish the Public Hearing Notice.
Mattice provided an update on the Countywide Trail, Bikeway & Active Living Plan. The Plan is through Live Right in the State Health Improvement Program and is funded at 100% except for the in-kind donations. There are six communities that also received grants. Mattice is working with those communities to host the following public open houses: 2-08-11 from 6:30-8:30 P.M., Buffalo City Hall; 2-09-11 from 6:30-8:30 P.M., Ney Nature Center; and two additional meetings will be held in Howard Lake and Albertville (dates/times to be determined). Mattice said after the claims to the consultant are paid, reimbursement will be through the grant. Once a Trail and Bikeway Plan has been drafted, it will be presented to the County Board for comment. The final version will be presented at a later date. This was provided as an informational item.
Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, presented the 1-24-11 Transportation Committee Of The Whole (TCOTW) Minutes. At today’s County Board Meeting, Fingalson made the following correction: Page 1, change meeting location to the County Board Room at the Wright County Government Center. Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Mattson, carried 5-0:
Discuss Otsego Request for Future CSAH 37 (70th Street)
Fingalson said that the focus today is on 70th Street, which was part of the Northeast Wright County Transportation Study that was approved in 2004. This study was a joint venture with three cities (Otsego, Albertville, and St. Michael), Mn/DOT, Wright County, and the Federal Highway Administration. He gave a timeline of various developments that occurred since this study. [Attachment 1] Fingalson said that a decision was made to focus on the I-94/CSAH 19/CSAH 37 interchange area first as opposed to an interchange at either Kadler or Naber because that was what the Federal Highway Administration and Mn/DOT told them to do. Albertville has taken the lead on this and is still working to get this improvement done.
Otsego is currently proposing that a new corridor for a part of CSAH 37 be established so that there would be a straight connection between TH 101 and CSAH 19. In order for that to happen, there has to be a turnback of what would become a former section of CSAH 37. The Northeast Study identified this straight connection as a logical and reasonable improvement that should be made and projected an ADT of 25,000 on that stretch of highway by 2040. If design changes are made and approved, 4.1 miles of CSAH 37 would be revoked and an additional 3.0 miles would be added on the new route. Otsego would like to see CSAH 37 (in its new route) designated for a new functional class so that this project would be eligible for federal funds. The advantage for the city is that it would provide a continuous east/west route for residents in the western part of the city and they wouldn’t have to go through the I-94 stretch in Albertville on their way to and from home. An elementary school and a commercial area would also benefit from this proposed straight route. Fingalson said that the request made today is for Wright County to help get this classification change made to ‘minor arterial’ for the new route. In order to establish the new route as CSAH 37, the old portion will have to be revoked to each of the three cities where it is located.
Sawatzke asked what changed since the last TCOTW meeting where Otsego was asking the Board for support. He said that the County Board already agreed to endorse the plan if it is eligible. Wagner answered that he had talked to Mn/DOT about the classification request to designate this new portion of roadway (Oakwood Avenue NE to CSAH 19) as a ‘major collector,’ but Region 7W already has too many major collector roads to add another. That is why they asked that this be designated as a minor arterial instead, because ultimately, that is what it will be. The State said that it didn’t require that this new portion be turned over to the county. 70th Street would still be classified as a minor arterial, regardless of jurisdiction. The county could agree later to taking it over. It is possible that portions classified as minor arterial, between Otsego and Albertville, wouldn’t meet county state aid standards. Fingalson said that it would stand to reason that a minor arterial would become a CSAH; but for that to happen, the cities would have to agree to take back the revoked segments, and there might be some reluctance on the part of the cities to commit to that. Will Otsego be in a position to let Wright County take over the road as a CSAH and then be prepared to accept the turnback?
Sawatzke commented that the most important thing is that the roads are built in appropriate locations for traffic. It appears to him that Otsego is willing to take on the risk of building this road in hopes that the roads can be swapped at some future time. If the county decides not to take this new portion over, then the city will still own it. He thinks that the city is taking on more risk than the county with the hope that the county will take it over later. Fingalson said that he was just reacting to the minutes of the previous TCOTW meeting that the county would support the classification change only if there were an agreement about the future revocation. Eichelberg expressed his concern that the new road be built to county road standards, and Thelen said that the county could decide against taking it over if the cities refuse to accept the turnback. If they don’t agree to the county’s terms, then the county wouldn’t have to take it over. Robertson said that all three cities would need to come to an agreement, but the majority of the road to be taken over is located in Otsego. Russek commented that neither St. Michael nor Albertville would benefit by taking over a portion of the old CSAH 37. He asked if the farm property owner (west of McAllister Avenue) had been contacted, and Robertson said that a public hearing will be held at the next council meeting. Darkenwald said that the property owner had come in to city hall and talked with the staff about the future road. Wagner said that he is aware of the proposed changes and realizes that about 2.5 acres of his property will be taken. They are considering some tradeoffs where some vacations could be done in the future and he could get land back that would connect his properties. They have set some crossings from the farmstead in order to get his equipment across the road at locations that he likes. The landowner is not happy with the changes but understands the needs of the city. This road would also be a good east/west route for him. Wagner added that Otsego acknowledges that CSAH 37 should go to this new route, and all three cities signed off on the Northeast Study that recommended that this should be the future route of CSAH 37.
Fingalson said that it is good to hear that Otsego is willing to consider building this road without the promise of it becoming a CSAH. Ideally, the new route would be CSAH 37 with the understanding that the three cities would take back the old portion. This is actually a requirement of the County State Aid Screening Board. Robertson said that this will happen and it is just a matter of negotiating. Wagner said that when they reach the point where they want the new portion to become CSAH 37, some upgrade work will have to be done at the curve and on the current paved portion of 70th Street that is not a county road. The one-mile stretch of 70th Street between CSAH 19 and MacIver Avenue (which was put in as a “shape and pave”) would also need improvements. That will bring it up to the standards of a CSAH all the way to CSAH 19. Fingalson said that another concern has been about access management that the county employs on the county system. If this is a city route that doesn’t have county jurisdiction, the access management might not be consistent with the county policy that he would like to see for a future CSAH. Also, he wonders if the city, after putting a lot of money into the new portion of the roadway, would be willing to give this up and take over the old section of CSAH 37. He said that if the city is expecting the county to improve the old portion of the road beyond a resurfacing, we would need to know. Wagner said that the city may have concerns about the areas with 3:1 or steeper in-slopes. Fingalson said that the whole route has that condition. Wagner said that a lot of factors would figure into the future decisions that would be made and would be influenced by a change in the economy and the industrial development that might follow this. If the Naber interchange gets built, 70th Street would probably become an urban collector and developers along that portion would be asked to pitch in. An exit from the freeway onto Naber would be a good place for an industrial park. Those are the types of things that could happen that could help with the upgrade of this roadway to a four-lane highway, but at this point they don’t know for sure that this will happen. Russek commented that if this new road is built to CSAH 19, a lot of traffic will use the new route to the mall rather than take the old CSAH 37. Robertson commented that Albertville is taking action to deal with the traffic that is funneled through the City of Albertville, but Otsego is taking action to deal with traffic in Otsego and realizes that others from outside the area will also be using that road, and that is all right with them. Wagner said that the turnback can’t happen until the north intersection at Oakwood/CSAH 37 is upgraded.
Fingalson said that he is a little bothered by the fact that two years have been spent working on the I-94 Implementation Task Force where consensus was reached. There were a lot of good meetings where discussion was held on plans for a Naber interchange and a Kadler interchange. Then the focus changed to interchange improvements at I-94/CSAH 19/CSAH 37. The Federal Highway Administration directed them to focus on this interchange, and Albertville took the lead on preparing for this regional improvement. Otsego chose not to participate in this and Fingalson said that he hasn’t heard the rationale for this decision. Otsego seems to be focusing on future CSAH 37, which ties into Kadler Avenue, and that is important; but when the decision was made to work on one improvement at a time, the I-94/CSAH 19/CSAH 37 interchange project was going to be done first. He said that improvements to CSAH 37 at this time seem a bit out of order.
Wagner said that the Northeast Plan had identified a number of projects that were recommended, and those numbered from 1 to 10 were projects to be done in the short term. Most of the projects are now completed, but the project with the number “1” (the extension of CSAH 37) is still not completed. Fingalson said that the numbering was not necessarily a ranking but rather just an identifier of those projects that belonged on the short-term list. When asked about the right of way needed for the new road, Wagner explained that they are looking at acquiring only 80 feet of right of way because they don’t want to take away more land than they need to at this time. More can be acquired later if the road is widened to a four-lane highway. They are also trying to ease the taking by turning back a gravel road.
Thelen asked if support for Otsego’s 70th Street project would hurt Albertville’s I-94/CSAH 19/CSAH 37 interchange project, but Fingalson said that it should not affect it. Robertson commented that the Albertville project deals mainly with the mall traffic, and the 70th Street project is a route for the people who live there. Darkenwald said that Otsego would like support from the county to get the classification changed to ‘minor arterial’ so that they can try to get federal funds to help the local people move more efficiently on the local road system. As far as the turnback is concerned, he said that they would like to work with the county regarding expectations of both the city and the county.
Announcement of the public hearing will be printed in the Elk River Star News, and every household in the area receives free delivery. Wagner added that notices would also be sent out regarding the public hearing. Sawatzke commented that since the farm owner has already sold off 40 acres for a housing development, he is part of the reason that improvements are needed on 70th Street. He said that there are three options to consider. One would be to let the city take the lead and build the road in the plan. The second option would be to have Wright County do it. The third option would be to do nothing. Sawatzke said that he would endorse the option that the city is proposing, which is to have Otsego take the lead and build the road. Fingalson said that his concern would be that the road might not be built according to the standards of a CSAH and that not enough right of way would be purchased. However, if it is purchased now, this land would be taken off the tax rolls, and it can always be purchased later when it becomes necessary to do so. Wagner said that the roadbed would be 40-feet wide with 12-foot lanes, and this would handle the projected traffic for the next 15 years. Hawkins commented that the county wouldn’t take it over until it became a four-lane highway. Fingalson said that one option would be the understanding that if the county were to take over this road in the future that the city would be responsible for acquiring the right of way needed at that point. Wagner said that he had no issue with that suggestion. If development comes in, Otsego would get it before permission is granted to build. Sawatzke asked why the right of way would be needed now before development comes in, and Russek commented that it can be acquired down the road, maybe 15-20 years from now, when development does come in. Sawatzke added that if no development does occur, there won’t be any pressure to build a four-lane road. Wagner said that the 10-year projected count of 8,800 ADT could be handled by a two-lane road, with expected levels of 3,000 ADT when the road is first completed. Darkenwald said that the most important thing is to get the classification changed without any strings attached.
Fingalson said that this will be done on February 9 when he and Wagner meet as part of the Technical Advisory Committee with the request. Otsego will be asking for a functional class change and asking for federal money. This will be competing with the other projects that Wright County has submitted, which include the CSAH 34 Extension (eliminating CR 147) and the resurfacing of CSAH 37 (TH 25 to CSAH 8). Otsego has state aid money for their project and Wright County has federal TH 55 Corridor Coalition funds for their project (future CSAH 34), so they would competing directly for federal funds.
The County Board needs to recommend that this proposed roadway be reclassified as a minor arterial, and they can do that at the upcoming board meeting. A written agreement will be needed when the old road is taken over, but it is not needed now. The new road cannot be changed to a CSAH until the other road is turned back.
Sawatzke commented that Wright County has nothing to lose if this project does happen. Fingalson said that the only gamble would be if Otsego decides to keep the roadway after they have put a lot of money into it and not be willing to take back the old segments of CSAH 37. He said that it will depend on what happens on February 9 and whether there is federal money available to spend on this project.
RECOMMENDATION: It was a majority opinion of the members of the TCOTW that the County Board support the request from the City of Otsego to change the functional class of that portion of current CSAH 37 (from TH 101 to Oakwood Avenue NE) and the new roadway proposed (from Oakwood Avenue NE to CSAH 19) to ‘minor arterial.’
(End of 1-24-11 TCOTW Minutes)
Fingalson sought Board direction on whether they would like to refer discussion on the renewal of rental property contracts to the Ways & Means Committee. Portions of the Rassat borrow site and the Stemper site have been rented out for many years. There is no contract for 2011 and beyond. The Board has given two-year extensions of the signed contract with Dale and Linda Gapinski for the past six years. The Assessor’s Office recently discovered these County-owned lands are rented and must be taxed if rented. Beginning in 2011, the Rassat site will be taxed at $39/acre ($1,199.25), while the 2010 rental rate was $55/acre ($1,691.25). Beginning in 2012, the Stemper site will be taxed approximately $52/acre ($624), while the 2010 rental was $65/acre ($780). Prior to 2011, the County paid a total of $3.60 in taxes for the Rassat site. Mattson referenced the land rental at the Fairgrounds and questioned whether that is taxed. Fingalson said it should be. When a non-profit organization rents property, it becomes taxable. Mattson felt the rental at the Fairgrounds should be discussed as well. Mattson moved to refer the Renewal of Rental Property Contracts to the Ways & Means Committee, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0.
Fingalson asked whether the Administration Office had received his request to petition on an item relating to setting a bid opening for the CSAH 40 Bridge Replacement Project. As the Administration Office was not aware of the request, Fingalson asked whether it could be petitioned onto the Agenda. Norman stated this could be petitioned onto the Agenda as it is a non-action item (i.e., it is setting up action for a future meeting). Thelen moved to petition this item onto the Agenda, seconded by Eichelberg, carried unanimously. On a motion by Eichelberg, second by Mattson, all voted to set the CSAH 40 Bridge Replacement Project Bid Opening for 3-08-11 at 9:30 A.M.
A Parks Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 1-25-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Sawatzke. Sawatzke asked whether the County Board should send a letter to Corinna Township asking if they are interested in entering into an agreement authorizing the Township to maintain the road. Sawatzke said at the Parks Committee Of The Whole Meeting, it was agreed to by staff that any agreement should be put into writing so there is no misunderstanding by either party. Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, offered to send a letter to Corinna Township to that effect. Kryzer felt any discussions would be helpful at this point. The letter could be sent to Tim Young, and that would start the negotiation process while working on other elements of their recommendation. Sawatzke felt there were three recommendations that needed to be acted on. The first would be to pass this document stating that people have the right to use the road. Although the attorney’s have indicated that this document is not needed, Sawatzke did not feel there was any harm in doing it. He wanted to make it clear that it is the position of the County Board to authorize use of the road. Sawatzke said that when there is discussion on this subject, at times it has been implied the County Board does not want to grant access. He said this is not the intent of the Board nor has it ever been. The second issue is the road maintenance. The third issue is the longer process of people doing work on the site. Sawatzke said it would be his preference to see how the second issue unfolds prior to sending people to survey. Kryzer was in contact with Steve Jobe, Surveyor. Jobe plans to go to the site and pinpoint the actual road location. That information would be incorporated into the final motion. It would contain the current legal description so it is known what people have permission to use. Kryzer said it is not the intent to take away any right to use the road but rather to delineate where it is for the record. Kryzer said that was the reason it was tabled. In response to a question by Sawatzke, Kryzer stated the County Board would have the ability to provide road access in a different area if so desired. However if there was an easement, there would not be the ability to do that. Kryzer said if, for example, the County Surveyor would find a different hill for the road to travel down, the County would have the ability to change to that location. The motion to approve the minutes and recommendations carried 5-0. Sawatzke made a motion to have Kryzer send a letter to Corinna Township asking if they are interested in an agreement allowing them to maintain the road. Kryzer clarified that he would send the letter to the Township’s Attorney, Tim Young, and a copy to the Township Clerk. The motion was seconded by Eichelberg and carried 5-0. The minutes of the Committee Meeting follow:
I. DISCUSS TITLE EXAMINATION AND EASEMENTS IN CLEARWATER REGIONAL PARK.
Kryzer stated that prior to today’s meeting he distributed copies of a letter to the County Board titled, “Title Examination of Clearwater/Pleasant Regional Park”, dated 1-21-11. He thanked the offices of County Recorder and County Surveyor for their assistance during the examination of the park and the deeds of ownership of the park. He reviewed the content of his letter (see attached) to the Commissioners which provides a history of the park, easements, township roadway, and legal description. In the letter, Kryzer listed his recommendations as follows:
1) Adopt a resolution giving the property owners a revocable license to use the roadway for access to and from their property,
2) That the property owners and Corinna Township be given permission to maintain the roadway at its current width, elevation, and height subject to the prior review and approval of Wright County and
3) That you direct the County Surveyor and County Attorney to meet with the land owners and correct the legal descriptions for the various parcels of property located in Clearwater/Pleasant Regional Park.
Kryzer cautioned that the roads run through park property. He stated that it would be considered a criminal misdemeanor if trees were cut down on the park property.
Thelen stated that in November, the Commissioners toured the area that is being discussed today. She stated that the road is being used by fishermen. She asked Kryzer to address the County’s participation in maintenance efforts. Kryzer stated that he does not have an opinion about the County’s maintenance efforts. He is strictly looking at the legal standpoint of the Clearwater/Pleasant Lake Regional Park.
Thelen asked what the difference is between issuing a revocable license and granting an easement. Kryzer stated that issuing an easement is entering into a negotiable agreement. Each individual property owner would be contacted, and a separate agreement would have to be filed. Issuing a revocable license would grant permission to use the property. A revocable license, along with a resolution, would formally accomplish what the County is already doing.
Sawatzke asked Mattice if he is aware if any of the trees with the x’s on them have been removed since November, 2010. Mattice stated no.
Sawatzke asked whether a verbal agreement or written agreement would suffice. Kryzer stated that he would recommend the more formal contract. Then both sides know what to expect from each other. Thelen stated that the maintenance of the road still remains an issue. She asked whether this should be discussed at a future meeting. She stated that she consulted with an attorney and their opinion was that the County grant an easement to Corinna Township to maintain the road. Permission would still have to be sought to expand the road beyond its boundaries. She asked whether granting an easement would be a possible option. Kryzer stated yes.
Sawatzke stated that Corinna Township is not responsible, nor does it have an obligation to maintain the road. Thelen stated that she would like to understand how to facilitate it legally. Sawatzke stated that only one property owner has an easement; however, no easements have been recorded. Sawatzke stated that he presumes a license to use the road would provide the same coverage. Sawatzke stated that the County does not want to deny anybody a right to get to their property.
Tim Young, attorney representing Corinna Township, introduced himself and explained that everybody is familiar with today’s topic. He gave an explanation about how there are two different ways to look at land ownership and title work. He stated that paperwork and conduct (i.e. behavior, possession) are two factors to look at when determining land ownership. He stated that the ownership and paperwork (record title, history of ownership, plats) can be confusing. Both behavior and paperwork need to be examined, however, possession can trump paperwork. Only one landowner has an easement. The others have an unwritten easement based on their use of the road. He stated that in this situation, neither the County nor Township can only consider the paperwork. He stated that on behalf of the Township, the conduct on this property has to be considered. He stated that in his analysis, the Township has maintained the road for six years, as required by the Statute. He stated that there appears to be a fact dispute between the County and the Township. He stated that a judge, arbitrator, or mediator could determine the facts. He stated that the Township is claiming ownership of the road under the use and possession law.
Young stated that Kryzer made some mention of criminal sanctions regarding conduct in the future. He stated that the County is overreaching by threatening criminal prosecution. He stated that he would ask that this discussion be handled with a delicate touch. If there is accusation or inherent conflict, he would refer to another jurisdiction for investigation. Young stated that his belief is that these property owners do not need to have a license. One of the recommendations states that the Township should receive permission and have a written agreement for maintenance of the road. The Township’s position is that they don’t need permission. The Township has vested the right and duty to maintain the road. He stated that sometimes the Statute in Chapter 160.05 is used as a shield. Property owners use this to deflect unwanted government maintaining a property. Sometimes property owners use this as a sword to force the County to maintain a road. The property owners are forcing the Township to keep maintaining it because they have for the previous six years.
Young stated that he would propose forming a boundary plat commission to discuss what the County considers to be “bad” legal descriptions. The commission would include property owners, and representatives from the Township and the County.
Thelen stated that she heard Young say that the County and Township have a fact dispute about whether the behavior of the Township fits the Statute regarding adverse possession. Russek stated that the Township can’t take public land with adverse possession. Thelen asked whether park land is exempt from the six-year rule. Young stated that his research does not show any case law that applies to another road authority and park land. It is true that a private party cannot use adverse possession of government property under the 15-year statute. There are some conditions (i.e. abandonment) where this does not apply though. He stated that there are cases where private property owners adversely possessed roads that belong to educational or governmental agencies. The parkland is not registered land, and is not torrens property. He stated that the County does not have a conclusive argument. He added that until there is a Minnesota Supreme Court Case, there is an open interpretation of the law. The County could raise this as their defense. Thelen stated that the County and Township seem to have differing opinions on this.
Sawatzke stated that he feels there must be a misperception behind today’s meeting. He explained that the County Board asked the County Attorney’s office to research this property and provide an unbiased opinion. Young stated that the County Attorney’s office represents the County. His clients asked that he provide an opinion.
Sawatzke stated that the County Board asked the County Attorney’s office to provide the facts regarding the history of the land.
Young stated that he would confirm that the County received an accurate report of the record title to the party. Young stated that Sawatzke was commenting on whether an easement could be granted to a Township even though it doesn’t own a lakeshore parcel. He stated that it is very common that a landowner grants an easement so that the government agency can operate and maintain a road. He stated that this could be an option. However, he would promote the formation of a boundary plat commission.
Peterson, attorney representing Dan and Bonnie Shay, presented an aerial overlay map which outlines a road. He stated that the map was created by Wright County. He stated that he has not found a legal description regarding the existence or history of the road. However, the map does show an existence of a road. He stated that it is not unusual to have bad legal descriptions since the surveying methods were archaic back in the early 1900s. He stated that he would agree with Young in that his clients do not need permission from the County to use the road. They have prescriptive rights defined by user law. He stated that the first government entity to own the park land was in 1977. There was a 15 year period vested prior to that time. He stated that his clients have gained specific private ownership rights to the road prior to any government entity taking ownership. He repeated that his clients have a right to use the road. He said that if they were to go to court, they would win this issue because of how the law is stated. Peterson stated that he would agree with Young with respect to forming a boundary plat commission. He stated that in Wright County, the Townships adopted road plat maps in 1984. However, Corinna Township was maintaining the road before that time.
Peterson stated that he would disagree with Kryzer’s comment that the park property would be marketable. He stated that there are boundary issues which include an ambiguous description of the road. He stated that together with the rights of ingress and egress easements, the property owners have a right to use that road. He asked what would be the purpose of the County taking over the maintenance, repair, and building of the roadway.
Peterson stated that the records speak for themselves. He stated that it makes sense to allow the Township to continue to maintain the property in conjunction with the formation of a plat commission. This would save the County the cost to maintain the road. He stated that ingress and egress should be defined, as well as the terms of a relationship between Corinna and the County. Sawatzke stated that the Township can use the road as defined in Kryzer’s recommendation. Sawatzke stated that he doesn’t understand why Peterson and Young are questioning the recommendations when they are in line with what the Township wants.
Thelen stated that she does not feel that the County is denying the property owners permission to use the road. It is her understanding that there is a desire to do it within the existing parameters.
Peterson stated that the parcels are landlocked because they are defined by the access. This could be defined by road or easement description. He stated that he doesn’t want to address the issue of his clients, as landowners, not having a deeded right of access. They have been denied building and remodeling permits because they didn’t have a legal road of access.
Russek stated that the County is not denying the landowners right of access. The County is willing to work out a resolution with the Township. He stated that as a Commissioner, he has to consider Kryzer’s research and legal opinion. The proposal was to work out an agreement with the Township to let them maintain the road and grant landowners access to their property.Russek stated that he cannot see why there is any argument about who owns the road. He stated that it was not the County’s goal to argue about the maintenance of the road.
Peterson stated that his clients have been willing to increase the road elevations so they could acquire building permits. Sawatzke stayed that ingress and egress rights and maintaining the road is different than building a road two feet or cutting down trees.
Peterson stated that legal access has been an issue with Planning & Zoning in the past for his client. Sawatzke stated that when the Commissioners were on site, Mr. and Ms. Shay said that the road elevation wasn’t an issue any longer.
Thelen stated that the access concerns were addressed today. The County is allowing Corinna Township to do the maintenance. She stated that she thinks the underlying issue is that the Shay’s have concerns regarding the elevation of the road so they can meet their goal to build a larger home. She asked whether anything is precluded by Kryzer’s recommendations. She asked whether the Township could obtain permission from the County to elevate the road. Kryzer clarified Thelen’s statement by adding that nothing is precluded based on the recommendations. However, his recommendation does state that the road should be maintained at the current width and height. He stated that his recommendation pertains to general parameters.
Thelen asked Kryzer to verify that the County’s purpose today was to determine if there are any titles that suggest an entity outside of the County owns the road and parkland. Kryzer stated that Thelen is correct. Russek stated that he is in favor of adopting Kryzer’s recommendations when this goes before the County Board.
Thelen stated that she has concerns about adverse possession based on some statements that were made by Young today. Kryzer stated that he feels the County and Township can work out a resolution that grants maintenance duties. The Township would have to sue the County over the ownership of the park in order to prove adverse possession.
Sawatzke asked Thelen which attorney she sought advice from. Thelen stated that she spoke with Troy Gilchrist who is in private practice. He used to be a part of the Minnesota Township Attorney’s Association. She stated that she would like to seek clarification on this issue now that Peterson and Young have spoken on behalf of Corinna Township and private landowners.
Mattson said he is in favor of moving forward on the recommendations as they were presented in the letter from Kryzer. Eichelberg said he too is in favor of the recommendations.
Kryzer informed the Committee that he would not be able to complete and present the resolution until sometime in February, 2011. He recommended that the County Board review today’s Committee minutes at the 2-01-11 County Board Meeting; and table further action until a later date. Norman stated that the minutes will reflect Kryzer’s recommendations, and the resolution can follow at a later date.
Thelen and Sawatzke thanked the County Attorney, Recorder, and Surveyor’s offices.
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt a resolution giving the property owners a revocable license to use the roadway for access to and from their property. Give permission to Corinna Township and the property owners to maintain the roadway at its current width, elevation, and height subject to the prior review and approval of Wright County. Direct the County Surveyor and County Attorney to meet with the landowners and correct the legal descriptions for the various parcels of property located in Clearwater/Pleasant Regional Park.
(End of 1-25-11 Parks Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 1-25-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Thelen moved to approve the minutes, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0:
I. DISCUSS OPTIONS FOR THE PLANNING & ZONING DEPARTMENT.
Salkowski stated that he had nine weeks left before his retirement date of 3-31-11. He stated that he would like the opportunity to train his successor, but understands that recruiting takes time. It is his opinion that the County Board will see many resumes and applications from qualified internal and external candidates.
Salkowski presented a two-sided handout outlining the current organizational flowchart of the Planning & Zoning Office and his idea for an alternative organizational plan. He stated that the reason he offers the two possibilities is 1) just because he has managed his office for over twenty years in the current hierarchy style, does not mean it is the best way, and 2) it is conceivable to have a Planning Director within the Office that may not be a zoning expert. He stated that he was twenty-five years old when he accepted the position of Planning & Zoning Administrator. The office only had three other employees in it at that time.
He referenced Stearns County’s organizational layout which has an environmental services division. He noted that Stearns County has a larger department. Its Planning Director does not have a planning background. Stearns County, unlike Wright County, operates its agricultural and water resources internally. Stearns County has larger feed lots. They also have an entire land use division. Stearns County also facilitates the food/beverage/lodging inspections in-house. The State facilitates these types of services for Wright County. Thelen asked whether food/beverage/lodging inspections are a revenue generating service. Salkowski stated yes, it could sustain itself. He added that he thinks this type of service would be a huge headache for the County. He does not see how food and beverage inspections fit into the duties of the Planning & Zoning Office. Thelen asked Salkowski whether Planning and Zoning currently contracts with the Public Health Department. Salkowski stated that Public Health does contract with the Planning and Zoning Department to perform its water and sewer inspections.
Salkowski asked whether the County Board would advertise the position internally first, or open the hiring process to outside and internal candidates. He discussed how bypassing consideration of hiring from within could create hurt feelings within his Office. Sawatzke asked whether the job description would be different for both positions. He suggested that the job description may be general enough that both internal and external candidates could be considered for the new position. Norman stated that the new County job descriptions are not available yet. However, the old job description for the Planning & Zoning Administrator calls for a master’s degree in planning with two years experience, or a bachelor’s degree with at least five years of experience. The new job description will require a master’s degree. Norman stated that the County has to use the job description of record for the purpose of advertising the position. Pawelk stated that during the interview process, the candidate would be informed that a new job description is in process.
Eichelberg asked whether the County, in past practice, has hired a department head without advertising to the outside. Norman stated no. Sawatzke stated that he is in favor of advertising externally, but would give strong preference to internal candidates. He stated that he feels there is value in consistency. Salkowski asked whether all five Commissioners would conduct the interview. Norman stated yes.
Salkowski stated that his only concern is that it would be nice to know what will happen prior to his retirement date. He would like to provide some insight in how to draft his Department’s budget since he has never trained anybody in his Office. If possible, he’d also like to provide some advice and training. Promoting a senior assistant planner would leave a vacant position within the Office which would save on the County in its staffing budget. Sawatzke noted that Salkowski would likely be familiar with the top candidates and would be able to provide some insight regarding the candidates.
Pawelk described the process involved in the advertising and posting period, screening the applications, and interviewing for the position. She forewarned the Committee that if they were to hire a Planning Administrator from another County, the candidate may have to provide a month’s notice. This would further delay the filling of the position. The Committee briefly discussed the salary as it relates to internal promotions. Norman stated that the County Board may want to revisit the reorganization chart after they make an offer to the candidate.
Sawatzke asked whether the Personnel Office could advertise immediately for the position as the Commissioners would approve the minutes and recommendation at the 3-01-11 County Board Meeting. Pawelk stated that she will advertise the position State-wide in newspapers, on the AMC and Minnesota Workforce Center websites. She noted that the newspaper advertisement would cost approximately $1,000.
Sawatzke recommended that the Commissioners commit to a date for the interviews today.
The Committee determined to schedule interviews for the morning of Wednesday, March 16th, and if necessary, Thursday, March 17th, 2011.
RECOMMENDATION: Authorize immediate advertisement to interview and hire for Tom Salkowski’s position due to his 3-31-11 retirement.
(End of 1-25-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
On a motion by Thelen, second by Eichelberg, all voted to cancel the 3-29-11 Wright County Board Meeting due to the occurrence of five Tuesdays in March.
The Committee Meeting schedule for March was discussed. Committee meetings are normally held the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month as needed. The AMC Legislative Conference will be held 3-23-11 which is the fourth Wednesday of the month. Norman suggested the Board consider an alternate Wednesday. After discussion, the Board decided that Committee Meetings will be held as normal on the 2nd Wednesday of the month. Based on the urgency of the issues referred to Committee, Norman will determine whether a Committee Meeting will need to be held on 3-30-11.
Albertville Body Shop Inc. $2,394.25
Ameripride Services 146.68
Anoka County Sheriff 11,928.61
Assn. of MN Emergency Mana 235.00
Barnes Distribution 548.92
Barthels Auto Body 1,541.39
Beaudry Propane Inc. 3,656.09
Boyer Truck Parts 654.73
BP Amoco 2,000.05
Buffalo/City of 4,793.60
Cenex Fleetcard 423.84
Center Point Energy 4,011.87
Centra Sota Lake Region LLC 70,823.48
Climate Air 13,490.08
Cokato Township 1,028.40
Cokato/City of 213.02
Display Sales Company 415.75
Dustcoating Inc. 21,763.14
Elk River Ford 218,236.40
Engel/Dale L. 500.00
First State Tire Recycling 709.33
Franklin Township 1,084.60
Globalstar USA 115.39
Going Under Dive Center 226.23
Gould Bros. Chev-Olds 167.19
Granite Electronics 780.59
Green Lights Recycling Inc 1,202.34
Hardings Towing Inc. 106.88
Hickmans Service Inc. 150.96
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 2,092.33
Howard Lake/City of 215.29
Impact Proven Solutions 9,996.00
Interstate Battery Systems 794.67
Karels Towing 226.03
Keeprs Inc. 213.98
Kris Engineering Inc. 16,688.96
LaPlant Demo Inc. 601.75
Lostetter/Carol H. 200.00
Maple Lake Township 753.80
Marco Inc. 7,677.30
Menards - Buffalo 559.04
Middleville Township 547.80
Minnesota Department of H 314.30
MN Assn. of Co. Administ 455.00
MN Attorney Generals Office 269.97
MN City-County Mngmnt Ass 110.00
MN Counties Computer Coop 225.00
MN Counties Intergovernme 5,000.00
MN Sheriffs Association 3,422.00
Monticello Auto Body Inc. 363.37
Morries Parts & Service Gro 1,734.51
MTI Distributing Inc. 618.28
Mumford Sanitation 129.87
North American Salt Co. 66,052.82
North Star Towing Inc. 238.47
Northern Safety Technology 459.12
Office Depot 810.17
Philips Health Care 236.19
PMI Computer Supplies 182.80
Richards/Thomas W. 700.00
Rockford Township 2,253.40
Rockford/City of 2,209.90
Royal Tire Inc. 3,728.01
RS Eden 13,740.55
Sheraton Bloomington 239.98
SHI International Corp 216.96
Silver Creek Township 2,646.20
South Haven/City of 288.60
Southside Township 643.80
St. Cloud Times 195.67
Sterling Solutions Inc. 700.00
Stockholm Township 364.80
TDS Telecom 260.92
Titan Energy Systems 232.50
Toms Towing Service 117.56
Total Printing 1,885.27
University of Minnesota 290.00
US Bank 2,143.75
Verizon Wireless 168.95
Voss Lighting 414.92
Walmart Store 01-1577 731.24
Waverly/City of 421.08
Winter Equipment Co. Inc. 823.85
Wright Hennepin Coop Electric 5,208.07
Wright Hennepin Electric 1,120.00
Xcel Energy 2,395.31
Zack’s Inc. 2,062.32
Zumbro Valley Forestry 2,400.00
27 Payments less than $100 1,483.50
Final total $539,810.44
The meeting adjourned at 10:05 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Feb. 28, 2011.