Kevin Peterson, Washington County engineer, provided an update on the $1.6 million Norell Avenue/County State Aid Highway 3 project, which has been rescheduled for 2025 to the May Town Board last week He reported design meetings had ruled out the options of 6’ and 4’ paved shoulders. County engineers are still exploring 2’ shoulders or a hybrid design with 2’ shoulders except in areas where that would be too impactful. The design options do not change the existing 11’ travel lanes.
He explained that curbs would be replaced in areas where curbs already exist, and that new curbs would not have an abrupt rise so bikes can exit the roadway (and turtles would more easily be able to cross).
A community open house is slated for April to bring design options to the community for review and feedback. A township resolution of support will be sought in the summer of 2021.
Resident Laurie Allman asked if the roadway would still have trees overarching the road or would there be a 15’ or 30’ clear zone (measured from the center of the road). Peterson said that is still being evaluated but a review of past crash data showed that trees had not been a factor in past accidents.
Resident Laurie Carlson expressed concern about bike safety. In a letter to the Board, she said Norell Avenue is identified on numerous regional bike maps as a bicycle-friendly road, and as the best route north from the Gateway Trail. “It is easy to say ‘this is not a safe road for bikers so they should not use it,’ but the reality is, bikers are using it with increasing frequency.” Shoulders along Norell vary widely, providing considerably more space for bikers both south and north of the area under consideration.
Following the presentation, Supervisor Adams moved to postpone until the next Board meeting a vote on his motion from December to support the project but with conditions.
Twin Lakes Water Rise
The water level in Twin Lakes has been rising for decades and now threatens septic systems on two nearby properties. Mike Isensee, administrator for the Carnelian Marine St. Croix Watershed District, reported to the Board on two potential solutions to the problem.
One solution would be to pump lake water into a landlocked depression on the east side of the lake. A 2019 evaluation by the Watershed District determined that the water would head toward the St. Croix and not back into the lake, making this a feasible option if the property owner agrees. If the water level of the lake continues to rise, this may not be a final solution.
Another option is to move the septic systems at risk and to add berms. The Watershed District is completing work on a large-scale hydrological model of the watershed. Once this work is done – in the next 2-3 months - they will be able to advise the homeowners on this option.
DNR Boat Launch on Big Carnelian
Resident Julie Andrich brought forward a concern for pedestrian and vehicle safety due to parking on public roadways near the DNR boat launch on Big Carnelian Lake. She requested:
• No Parking signs on Otchipwe Avenue, from the railroad tracks to Square Lake Trail (road curvature and rise do not allow proper sightlines)
• No Parking/No Turnaround signs at the entrance of 127th (blind curve, single lane without shoulder)
• No Parking/No Turnaround signs at the entrance of Ozark Trail (blind curve, single lane without shoulder)
There are already No Parking signs in the area but they have not been enforced. Commissioner Miron suggested enforcement begin with warning tickets to give people a heads up that the No Parking rules are now being enforced, then eventually adding tickets and fines to enforcement efforts. Miron also said he would coordinate with the country traffic engineers to come out and look at the sightline concerns.
Andrich will send a survey to impacted residents and will report the results to the Supervisors at the February meeting.
Building Code Violations
Board chair Voedisch met with the homeowner on 177th Street whose building code violation has been before the township for 17 months. He asked if the Board would consider a variance as a way to resolve the problem and was told that variances are granted for setback and terrain issues but not for lot size. The Supervisors did not want to set a precedent for such action.
Voedisch said the homeowner had technically met their requirements, even though the manner in which it was done did not result in a lot that could be legally combined. Final consideration of the matter was postponed until the March meeting to allow more research. In the meantime, the homeowner has agreed to pay the township for expenses incurred.
River Grove Conditional Use Permit
River Grove Elementary School has again submitted a request to amend its conditional use permit to allow for an increase of up to 300 students and 50 staff. The current CUP allows for 235 students and staff. The school is requesting that 500 people be allowed on-site for events. There are no plans for additional buildings, but an overflow parking lot is included in the plan.
The Board was concerned about the significant increase in traffic, and its impact on the condition of Oldfield Avenue N and Ostlund Trail N. The number of vehicles and weight of vehicles affect the life of a road. The school is asking for a 150% increase in daily vehicle visits, from 100 to 250 vehicles per day. The roads are additionally used by the MN Food Group and nearby residents.
A school-conducted traffic study and determined that the existing road was adequate to handle the increase, but it was unclear how local traffic had been taken into account. City consultants note that the average daily traffic volume used to justify paving a gravel road ranges from 300 to 500.
The school submitted a transportation plan, a site plan, a septic analysis, but not an emergency management plan (which they will provide). The submission can be found on the township’s website under AGENDA for the January 2021 meeting. The Supervisors accepted the application and scheduled it for discussion at the January planning commission meeting.
Don Rolf and Jason Husveth have been reappointed to the planning commission. Walter Peterson was moved from an alternate to a regular member.
The next planning commission meeting will consider a request for a variance for the Froiland property subdivision. Elevation changes on the property are such that one lot would not be buildable without a variance of the required amount of road frontage.
The planning commission will also review proposed revisions to the lot frontage ordinance, including:
• Allowing no permits to be issued for a lot created by Statutory exception until the Town Board has reviewed it for zoning compliance.
• Requiring that a lot have frontage before receiving a building permit. This would prevent inaccessible lots from receiving a building permit until the Township has reviewed and approved a variance.
• Bringing minimum lot width standards from the Subdivision ordinance and the Zoning districts into alignment.
A budget meeting will take place at the end of January, date to be determined.