If it’s not winter, it’s road repair

Town engineer Mark Erichson reported that pothole repair and curb repair was completed in June, at a cost of $25,065 and then presented the bids received for repair of 15 roads identified in the 2020 improvement plan. The Board faced a difficult decision. 

The 2020 levy allocated $30,000 for road repair, but the cost for improvements will run $43,121. Seven more roadways are slated for repair in 2021, with bids amounting to $45,453. 

The Board had asked Erichson to get bids for a 2-year and a 3-year repair plan to spread out the costs but none of the bidders would do a 3-year bid because of the uncertainty of material costs. Only one bidder, Allied Blacktop, would honor their prices for a two-year plan. 

In pushing for the Board to approve a transfer of funds in order to move forward with the 2020 roadwork, Voedisch told the Board there are two things they have got to do – roads and fire safety. “Residents expect roads to be repaired,” he said, adding that the work done this year should reduce costs next year. 

The Board asked Erichson if he could remove some of the projects from 2020 and do those repairs later. They were told a new bid would be required and it is unclear if the companies would be willing to bid for a smaller project. 

The Board moved to transfer the additional approximately $13,000 from the general fund to pay for the full 2020 road improvement plan. The Board did not commit to a 2-year contract and will put the 2021 road improvements out for bid next year. 

Dust: Erichson talked to Northern Salt about the poor performance of this spring’s dust control application. (Typically dust is reduced for 5-6 weeks but this year’s application lasted half of that time.) The Board had made a partial payment to Northern Salt in June. Erichson recommended moving forward with the 2nd application and making final payment on the original contract for work done to date. This action was approved. 

Highway 3 Project/Norell Natural Preservation Route Designation: Kevin Peterson and Wayne Sandberg, Washington County road engineers, attended the meeting to discuss the Norell Avenue N/Highway 3 road improvement project planned for 2023. The roadwork would take place between County Highway 7 (Square Lake Trail N) and County Highway 4 (170th St. N).

A public open house (and an online open house) is tentatively scheduled for July 29 at the Town Hall. For COVID safety reasons, county staff will be doing in-person meetings with residents by appointment and they will post all materials online for two weeks for resident viewing and comment. 

The county is seeking community input on safety issues and possible improvements to Highway 3. The roadway project will, at minimum, fix pavement sloughing off into a nearby pond just north of Boot Lake, and address safety concerns at a railroad crossing. 

But the county has heard concerns from residents about drainage issues, a dry hydrant, and narrow shoulders posing a safety risk for cyclists. Indeed, it was noted that the distance from the white stripe to the edge of the pavement ranged from 6” to 39” (averaging 16”). The recommended standard shoulder width for roads with bicyclists is 6’ (though 2’-3’ is common). 

Resident Laurie Allman had come before the Board at previous meetings to seek support in requesting that Norell be designated a Natural Preservation Route (NPR) because of its environmental and pastoral characteristics. Such a designation minimizes the standards for lane and shoulder width (2’ feet, but 6’ if used by bicycles), and narrows the “clear zone” where all vegetation is removed. She said the Gateway Trail will be coming through the area in future and will run near Norell. 

The engineers said they believed it was premature to move forward with an NPR request and recommended waiting until public input had been received and the plan was complete. 

Allman said safety is a concern to everyone, it’s not a matter of preservation over safety. Norell runs through the Carnelian Creek Corridor, one of Washington County’s top 10 conservation priority areas. There is a high concentration of state-listed threatened species in woodlands and small wetlands along the road (Blanding’s turtles, red-shouldered hawks) and important habitat for sandhill cranes, otters, wild turkeys, and more. “Norell is a bright spot for native plant communities.” 

Sandberg said road reconstruction standards require a 30” clearance but they do not believe the road will need reconstruction, only reconditioning, and that doesn’t require a specified clear zone. 

Auditors Report

Troy Gable and Dennis Hoogeveen presented the 2019 audit report. General Fund revenue of $276,670; Expenditures of $264,762. Total revenue for the year, $25,000 more than budgeted. General Fund revenue for licenses and permits dropped by $63,497. General fund expenditure for public safety increased by $2,168; but decreased for general government costs by $72,245.  No major projects paid out of the Capital Projects fund. 

Stormwater Project

Decision Delayed

Although tax revenues were good for the first half of the year, the Board was still concerned about committing $120,000 to the Panorama stormwater project and the financial burden to impacted residents. Resident representative Greg Glenn offered to re-poll the impacted households to assess their support for the $7,500 to $8,000 per household assessment. Glenn encouraged the Board to make a commitment so the Watershed District could move forward with seeking funding. The Board put off a vote until the August meeting. 

Kennel Ordinance

Changes

The township attorney submitted revisions to the township kennel ordinance (2020-02) for personal private, extended private, and small business kennels, all of which require a permit. 

• A personal private kennel may house 4-6 dogs on a lot at least 2.5 acres. All dogs are owned by the occupant except those onsite for breeding purposes. Breeding and selling of animals is secondary or incidental. Application fee is 0; escrow of $100. 

• An extended private kennel may house 4-6 dogs on a lot at least 2.5 acres. Dogs may be a combination of personally owned and dogs receiving foster care, transitional care, rehab or recovery care. Such uses are incidental to the residential purpose of the property. A public hearing is required. Application fee is $100; escrow is $600.

• Small business kennel may house 4-6 dogs for a business-related activity such as breeding and selling, overnight boarding, training, rehab, accessory grooming. Dogs may be owned by owner or others. Operation of kennel is secondary or incidental to primary residential use. A public hearing is required. Application fee is $100; escrow established in small business IUP.

Violations

• 177th Street Building Code Violation: The owner has entered into an agreement with the township to remedy the situation by July 1, 2021. 

• May Avenue Alleged Animal Violation: Property was visited and determined not to be in violation. 

• Atchipwe Avenue Building Code Violation: The township will be enforcing its code limiting temporary structures, like canvas buildings, to a maximum of 180 days. The Atchipwe Avenue resident and another resident on County 15 will receive a letter from the township requesting removal. 

Board approved

election judges

The board approved concept plan for Dittman-Greenhaugh subdivision. Because this is in the shoreland district of the St. Croix River, the county has zoning authority. 

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