The question of how to fund the township’s portion of the $360,000 Panorama stormwater project continues to stymie board supervisors as an August deadline looms for watershed district to apply for grant funding. 

The Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District portion of the project may begin as early as summer 2021 if its funding request is approved. Watershed staff have told the board that this project is at the top of their list right now but a delay could mean the project gets buried. The Watershed wants confirmation of the township’s commitment to its share of project funding- $120,000. 

“The town needs to know where we will be with revenue before we can make a commitment,” said board chair Bill Voedisch. “We are absolutely driven by the revenue side based on property taxes being paid.”

The township has not yet received information from Washington County regarding the May tax collection. Local taxes collected via mortgage escrow accounts are paid to the township the first week of July. The remaining mail-in taxes are paid to the township by the end of July. (The COVID-related tax deadline extension applied to those who do not escrow.) When asked if budgeting wasn’t normally based on assessments, Voedisch said yes, that would be the case, but noted that property owners affected by the Panorama project will also be subject to the township nitrogen assessment and stormwater assessment. Some may have lost jobs or income due to COVID. 

A representative from the affected community said the neighbors were ready to pay their assessment. 

The township could apply for a zero-interest loan for its part of the work to begin in 2022. Voedisch said that the board needed to look at the cash position, the potential for a levy increase next year, and what loan repayment would do to levy percentages over the years it would take to make repayment. 

Dog Issues Continue 

The county has not yet taken action on the potentially dangerous dogs reported at 14890 Ostrum Trail at the last township meeting. The neighbor whose animals were the victim of the attacks continues to work with the township attorney. 

Annette Friedheim’s application for a private dog kennel permit at 16740 Norell Avenue resulted in Nate Sparks, the city planner, providing the board with four possible courses of actions. The options varied regarding acreage requirements, number of dogs, requirement for a public hearing (before the planning commission or the board of supervisor), and fees. 

Sparks said the township’s current kennel application fees and escrow are so low that it won’t cover the cost of a public hearing, much less any reporting or investigation: “What is in the code now has not been realistic.” (The application form currently informs applicants that they may have to pay overages related to their application.)

The supervisors approved amending township ordinance 501.14 to add a new limited private kennel with a 2.5-acre threshold, with a $600 escrow and a $100 application fee, with an intended use plan and a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors. Friedheim’s application for a private kennel can now move forward to a public hearing. 

They asked Sparks to consider how he could produce an abbreviated planners report in line with the $600 escrow. 

Building Violations and Complaints

In the ongoing effort to bring 13003 177th Street into compliance with town code, the city attorney met with the homeowner and crafted an agreement that the homeowner will secure additional acreage needed for compliance by a certain date. The homeowner posted a $10,000 bond to be used to take down the non-compliant building if the agreement is not met. 

Neighbors complained about cars near the road, litter and a canvas structure at 12550 Otchipwe Avenue. A drive-by inspection determined that one of the vehicles was no longer present and it was unclear what was considered litter. The canvas structure/tent was visible. 

Voedisch said there are more of these structures in town than one might think and they aren’t covered by the building code because they aren’t permanent accessory buildings. “Do we want to make criminals of a dozen people?”

In this instance, the structure has drawn a complaint and it is larger than allowed in the building code for a permanent structure so it is a temporary use and only allowed for 180 days. The renters who reside at the home will be sent a letter informing them a complaint has been made and they have six months from the date of the letter to remove the structure.

Scenic, But Dusty Roads

Neighbor Laurie Allman reported that she had raised the idea of designating a portion of Norell Avenue near Long Lake as a natural preservation route at a County Road 3 project meeting. Roadway design work is just beginning so this is the ideal time to talk about including context-sensitive design. She also talked to county commissioner Fran Miron and he has asked public works about constraints this would place on them. 

On a separate note, calcium chloride was recently applied to the roads for dust control at a cost of $60,446. Early reports are unsatisfactory, with dust already picking up in some areas, much more than expected. 

Marine on St. Croix recently purchased a used vacuum truck (street sweeper). The township will contact the village to see if it could team up with their public works department to achieve some cost savings on street cleaning. 

Road repairs identified on the spring road tour will begin next week, at a cost of $4,000.

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