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Public hearing draws large crowd

By: Dorothy Bloemendaal, staff writer

November 3, 2012

Murray County Commissioners
The Murray County Board of Commissioners had no ditch petitions to approve at their meeting on October 23, however, ditch concerns took up much of the time. County Ditch #22 represented by John Meyer, Jeff Meyer, Swede Campbell and George Erbes met with the board regarding the condition of the ditch, cleaning it, and what to do with the spoils. The system has a negative balance of $6,800 and they questioned how much was levied each year. Jeff asked if a certain amount is levied each year and what is the normal amount set aside for a ditch. The board reviews the systems and determines yearly if the individual ditches have a reasonable amount for repairs or improvements in the near future. The levy is then set to cover costs as near as possible.

The discussion continued about the cost for the buffer strips and leveling the surface and what to do about the spoils. Due to the financial condition of the ditch in question the board decided to leave the crossing for the time being as it was not included on the “as built” document.

A public hearing was held at 10:30 a.m. on Judicial Ditch #3. About 20 residents from Murray County and Cottonwood County attended along with the board members from the two counties. Kurt Deter, petitioners attorney, commented the hearing was a halfway stop and a stage in the process of engineering for improvement of the almost 100 year old drainage system. Drainage issues were addressed in 1914 and the system built in 1918. Duane Hansel, engineer with Bolton and Menk, explained the system and plans for improvement. He presented three options: l. Do nothing. 2. Restore enough wetlands. 3. Extend the open ditch.

Permits will be needed from MPCA and the highway department at time of construction. At the present time no wetlands are in the proposed area. Public benefits and costs are to be revealed at the final hearing. Benefits of the ditch would enhance agriculture, there would be no effect on fish and wildlife as the area would be reseeded, no change in water quality, the ditch outlet is adequate, etc. At a total cost of 2.04 million he recommended the improvement feasible and practical.

The hearing was open to residents for comment. Wesley Lindstrom saw no reason for the new tile and was against the whole project. Another stated there was not enough outlet on the lower bottom side. Who would be assessed, contribute to repair of the system, if there would be a redetermination of benefits and why is not the old tile line followed were more questions.

Doug and Dan Schmitz had 30-35 acres drowned out last year because of inadequate drainage although they were assessed for the ditch with no benefits from it.

Dave Bucklin spoke about water quality, and quantity and improvements needed and the possibility of obtaining legacy funds for the improvement.

The line is out of repair and will eventually need to be done and any existing tile becomes private tile was stated.

Lavonne Hansen simply said she could not afford the tile on 170 acres. Dennis Kuhn has three lines going through his farm yet they will not let him tile a wetland. He was told the Department of Natural Resources makes the call.

Commissioner Sauer asked if the ditch can handle extra water and what is the impact downstream.

On a 5-0 roll call vote the preliminary report was accepted and viewers were approved. It will be next spring before there is a final hearing on the project.

Schmitz Grain was granted a conditional use permit for a fertilizer warehouse, chemical warehouse, seed warehouse and future construction plans for a shipping, office and scale, anhydrous tanks, and two approximately 300’ diameter grain piles in Section 16 Slayton Township. The special conditions were added - 1. A preconstruction meeting, 2. Maintenance of the roads, 3. Copy of easements. The area is 60 acres total. There was further discussion of the speed limit in the area which had been talked about some time ago. It is in city boundaries therefore it is the city’s responsibility to have it changed.

Jean Christoffels, zoning administrator and Randy Groves, highway engineer met with the commissioners concerning a parcel of land that the owner would like to have the dimensions adjusted. There is a state statute to adjust platted areas. Christoffels has been in contact with Groves, Jim Johnson - recorder, and Scott Anderson - attorney about the procedure. Some of the criteria to be used are surveyors pins, high water mark, maintenance of the property and effect on other parcels in the area.

Josh Schafer, Murray County Racing Association, told the board the races went very well this year although the go carts didn’t have a successful year. They are working on next year’s schedule for the carts already. The ticket system has been corrected and the association is financially ahead of expectation. The fire and ambulance departments are at every race and with a safe year not used. Fencing along the front stretch is slated to be done yet this year.

A donation from the family of John Dirks was accepted for flag poles to be installed at the race track. Dirks had watered the track for races for a number of years.

Schafer said they had a fantastic year and will celebrate with a banquet at the 4-H building.

A Veteran’s Service Officer grant of $2,298 for community outreach for a veteran outreach activity was accepted. The grant must be used by May 31, 2013. The Emergency Man-agreement Performance Grant activities of $15,773 with a 50 percent match was also accepted.

A contract for a Frontier Circuit for 36 months for communication at SWHSS was signed. Murray County will recover the $18,000 cost through the lease agreement with SWHHS.

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