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Informational Meeting on Proposed Road Reconstruction

June 13, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

An informational meeting on the N26/B25 reconstruction project north of Ruthven was held on Wednesday, May 31. Palo Alto County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth presented the group of about 20 landowners with a projected timeline for the project and exactly what will happen with the roads. Also on hand to help answer any questions was Chris Towell, Assistant County Engineer, Patrick Boggess, Professional Land Surveyor and Scott Brunsvold Civil Engineer both from Jacobson-Westergard out of Estherville.

"We are still working on the design of this project but our goal is to have all right-of-way acquisitions complete and all the permits needed this fall or early winter," Davis-Oeth said. "Then I would have a letting in January/February and have construction completed by next fall."

The standard set by Palo Alto County are for 24-foot wide highways with an eight-inch fly ash treated base. This is then covered by four-inches of crushed concrete and topped with and eight-inch concrete pavement. The N26/B25 pavements are only 22-inches wide.

"In order to meet the deadline that Walter is talking about for bid letting, all right-of-way acquisitions must be complete by December," Towell added. "We will be doing some surveying and landowners wll be contacted throughout various aspects of this process. To assess value I will be producing a CSR to dollar curve that will have to be approved by the Board of Supervisors and that will dictate what the offer is."

"With such a short timeframe, we have hired Jacobsen-Westergard to help us with surveying and land descriptions," Davis-Oeth added.

"The County has the right to use eminent domain but that puts a lot of responsibility on the county," Towell said.

"We are currently looking at a 10 foot ROW to do these roads according to the standards that the county has set. I know that there are some issues out there such as the Cornbelt power line and two United States Department of Natural Resources wetlands and we will not even be looking at acquiring ROWs from them," Davis-Oeth stated. "I also know that there are some residents that have tree windbreaks already established or that do not have much front lawn and we will look at those individually. I just want to be clear that I am not interested in using eminent domain."

I know you want this road fixed as much as we do, so I hope that we can work together to get this project completed as soon as possible," Davis-Oeth continued.

"So if you will not be taking ROW from Cornbelt or the USDNR, will you take more from the opposite side of the road?" Eugene Berkland landowner asked.

"That is not our goal right now," Davis-Oeth stated.

"So will Clay Rural Water have to relocate their lines?" Berkland questioned.

"We have had a lot of conversations with them," Davis-Oeth responded. "It is my understanding their line is outside of the right-of-way as it is right now."

"Ours is right in front of our house in the ditch," Angie Reed. "So if you are going to go 10-feet onto my property, you will be going right over the water line and the fiber optic."

"The fiber optic should be buried deep enough, I'm not terribly worried about that," Davis-Oeth said. "But there is certainly a concern there."

"I'm assuming that the county is going to pay for other fees besides the property," Kirby Sampson landowner said.

"Are you referring to damages or tree removal?" Davis-Oeth asked.

"An abstract fee for one," Sampson responded.

"And we will include a $50 payment for future abstract updates," Davis-Oeth replied.

"Fifty dollars per forty acres?" Sampson asked.

"That would be per parcel that we acquire," Davis-Oeth clarified.

"If you go to the courthouse, they break it down into 40 acre chunks," Sampson said.

"That's for your taxes but your abstracts are by your title," Towell stated.

Some further discussion regarding payments to landowners turned to assess value of the ROW areas. As Towell mentioned at the beginning of the meeting, a CSR to dollar curve would be produced and approved by the Board of Supervisors.

"I want the road to go in, but if you are taking 10 feet of my ground you are going to compensate me for it," Sampson stated.

"The curve we put out has always been fair," Palo Alto County Supervisor Ron Graettinger. "You can have an assessor value the property but if the County pays for it and it is lower that what we initially offered, you must take the lower value."

"Why do you need 10 feet?" Ron Kropf asked.

"I feel that the road doesn't need to be any wider because you are infringing on peoples property," Karen Thu stated.

"We don't need a wider road," Kropf said. "The road and shoulders are wide enough now. It's the chunks that are coming out of the road."

"I know the condition of the road, that's why I've been pushing. We are trying to fast track this project because it was not slated to be done until later," Davis-Oeth said. "We are talking a $5,000,000 project here."

"We want to be as open as we can be throughout this process,



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