Kevin Peterson, Washington County engineer working on the Norrell Avenue project, reported to the Board of Supervisors on the results of the first public engagement period in July and August. The online video, scrolling boards, map and questionnaire resulted in much more involvement than a typical open house: 687 online visits, 127 online survey responses, 27 mapped comments. Eighteen residents attended the open house in person, and 14 comments were received offline. 

Two clear themes emerged:

• Minimize impact to protect and preserve the scenic characteristics of the route.

• Improve safety for all, with many comments about bike safety and some requests for a bike path.

As a result of this input, the County proposed the following goals for the Norrell project:

• Maintain the alignment of the roadway. Do not flatten the curves. 

• Install 11-foot travel lanes (currently lanes are 12 feet)

• Evaluate the shoulders for minor widening, if and where feasible

• Complete a long-term reconstruction of the area of the roadway that is sloughing off into a nearby pond

• Review opportunities for future railroad crossing improvement at this low-volume rail crossing (no major reconstruction)

• Review areas for responsible stormwater treatment

Kevin Peterson, Washington County engineer working on the Norrell Avenue project, reported to the Board of Supervisors on the results of the first public engagement period in July and August. The online video, scrolling boards, map and questionnaire resulted in much more involvement than a typical open house: 687 online visits, 127 online survey responses, 27 mapped comments. Eighteen residents attended the open house in person, and 14 comments were received offline. 

Two clear themes emerged:

• Minimize impact to protect and preserve the scenic characteristics of the route.

• Improve safety for all, with many comments about bike safety and some requests for a bike path.

As a result of this input, the County proposed the following goals for the Norrell project:

• Maintain the alignment of the roadway. Do not flatten the curves. 

• Install 11-foot travel lanes (currently lanes are 12 feet)

• Evaluate the shoulders for minor widening, if and where feasible

• Complete a long-term reconstruction of the area of the roadway that is sloughing off into a nearby pond

• Review opportunities for future railroad crossing improvement at this low-volume rail crossing (no major reconstruction)

• Review areas for responsible stormwater treatment

The engineers did not consider it a priority to have this section of the roadway designated a natural historic preservation route. (Resident Laurie Allmann, who has been advocating this designation, said she was OK with it being scaled back for now and was happy that so many people had become engaged.)

Since bike safety was a major concern, Supervisors asked about the width of the shoulders. Peterson said the driving lanes would be narrowed slightly to increase the shoulder by 1 foot on each side. The engineers would not be designing for a certain width of shoulder but instead to minimize impact on the environment. 

Board chair Bill Voedisch said a one-foot increase would be a concern. “There are bikes on that road all the time. They aren’t going away.” He asked the engineers to do provide more width where possible. 

The engineers will be doing a drainage analysis and developing alternative plans to present at a future open house. No date has been set. 

Panorama Stormwater 

The Board of Supervisors approved a resolution, formalizing the township’s decision last month not to financially support the Panorama stormwater project. The resolution, and a cover letter, will be forwarded to the Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District (CMSCWD).

Voedisch said it had become clear that what had begun as a $125,000 road project had become a $360,000 water quality project. It was the Board’s view that rather than the township and residents paying 2/3 of the bill and the Watershed paying 1/3, it should be the other way around. 

A resident asked about the township’s plans to prevent pollution of the lake from road runoff. The supervisors said the township still has an interest in solving the water problems and a well-vetted process with engineering staff and the Board so the problem would not fall by the wayside. Discussion continues with the Watershed District. 

Fire Contracts

The Board of Supervisors approved fire response contracts with the Marine on St. Croix Fire Department and the Scandia Fire Department. Both contracts had very small yearly increases.

Arcola Mills 

Several representatives from the historic Arcola Mills Historic Foundation were present to respond to last month’s discussion about the dilapidated cabins remaining on the property. Voedisch pointed out that Arcola Mills had come before the Board many times since 2003. The township had been asking for action for 17 years and the properties are still unsafe. He said the town planner will make a recommendation and the Board will make a decision. 

Scott Eickschen said he is fairly new to the Arcola Mills board and that Arcola Mills is taking action. He reported that three structures had been removed and they are meeting with the DNR and Park Services about additional removals. Testing had been done on one building for asbestos and professional abatement is scheduled for Nov. 2. 

Eickschen said one building – the Mill Cabin – is on the national historic registry and is in the process of a historic conditional assessment with the MN Historical Society. They urged the Board of Supervisors to view that structure through a different lens. While the cabin is not the original mill house, having been rebuilt in the 30s or 40s, it is the foundation underneath that is protected. Funders would like to see that site redeveloped. 

Eickschen outlined what they can do to improve safety and welcomed advice on resources and funding to help them complete the work. 

Chicken Ordinance

In response to a citizen complaint about the amount of acreage a resident must have in order to keep chickens, Nate Sparks, May Township planner, conducted a review of chicken ordinances in other communities in Washington County. He suggested an ordinance that would include the following:

• Lot must be a minimum of 2 acres

• No more than 5 fowl, no roosters

• All fowl must be kept within a confined area or structure

• No waste may accumulate on-site and should be discarded regularly

• Feed shall be stored in rodent proof container within a building

The Board discussed a 100-foot setback and exclusion of geese. They asked the planner to draft a proper ordinance for review at their next meeting. 

Dog Kennel Ordinance

The Board approved the ordinance to amend the definition of a private kennel and a small business kennel, to specify the requirement of an interim use permit, the limit on the number of dogs, what happens with a violation of the nuisance ordinance, and how long an owner has to fix problems. 

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