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Spring Road Embargo Plan Is Adopted

By Staff | Mar 4, 2010

With hopes that the start of snow melting is signaling the advent of Springtime, the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors approved the implementation of a temporary weight embargo for the county’s hard-surfaced roads during the Spring thaw. The action came during Tuesday’s meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors.

“The way things are starting to look, we may be seeing our embargoes going into effect in the next couple of weeks,” Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz told the supervisors. “Hopefully, we can get the signage up in the next week or so and then be able to remove the embargoes by mid-April.”

The embargo program started in the Spring of 2008 on four of the county’s paved roads, in an attempt to extend the useful life of the roadways, especially during the Spring thaw when the road’s substructure was not as solid due to the frost going out. The move helped reduce repair expenses on the roads significantly.

But, in the Spring of 2009, a stretch of county road B14 west of Graettinger was severely damaged by heavy truck traffic during the spring thaw, resulting in over $300,000 in repairs being required. Due to that experience, the Supervisors agreed last year that a countywide embargo on paved roads would be implemented from that point on for the spring thaw.

“As always, our goal with these weight restrictions is to strike a balance between the commerce that is essential to the county and the high cost of taxpayer funded repairs or replacements of our pavements,” Fantz noted in a letter sent to various trucking firms, producers and commercial truck operators in the county, explaining the embargo, which is limited to six tons per axle. “Our desire is to minimize the time the restrictions are in place, depending on the speed of the thaw and how quickly the road base recovers some of its strength.”

“The six tons will allow a truck to operate empty,” Fantz noted. “And there is a possibility for special exemption permits from the engineer for hardships. We will try to delay implementing the embargo as long as we can, and when we put it on, we’ll try and get if off as soon as we can.”

Supervisor Leo Goeders moved to introduce and approve the resolution for the embargo and following a second from Supervisor Keith Wirtz, the resolution was approved on a unanimous roll-call vote.

In other business, a final plat for the Shores of Five Island Lake was presented to the board for consideration and possible adoption. County Zoning Administrator Joe Neary informed the supervisors that the county’s Planning and Zoning board had met, reviewed the proposed plant and voted to recommend adoption.

“The recommendation for adoption was made contingent on the final closing and transfer of title of the land to Secluded Land Company,” Neary noted, “And it is my understanding that closing is to take place this Friday.”

Mike Pfister of Secluded Land, the developer, explained that the Shores of Five Island Lake consists of 27 lakeshore lots, each with approximately 100 feet of lakeshore and consisting of one acre of land. “There are also five back lots, off the water, and one out lot, which will give the back lot owners lake access. There will be no camping, no parking or storage on the out lot. It will be just for the use of the five out lot owners.”

Pfister also explained the protective covenants for the development, including requirements that any dwelling be at least 1,000 square feet in size. No single-wide mobile homes are allowed under the covenants, and any camper, recreational vehicle or trailer can be on lots from December 1 through April 1. Additionally, no businesses are allowed under the covenants.

It was also noted that as part of the plat, a provision making the landowners responsible for any upgrades to the private road to bring it up to current county road standards was in place.

“Was there any public comment offered at the Planning and Zoning meeting?” asked Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

“No,” Neary replied, “There was no one at the meeting other than the commissioners.”

“What is defined as a business?” asked Supervisor Ed Noonan.

“Any activity that would interfere with the quality of life or become a nuisance or hindrance to the other residents would qualify,” Pfister said, citing an example of someone wanting to raise dogs and sell puppies. “If you had people driving out there all the time to look at puppies, parking all over, that would be interfering with the quality of life. That wouldn’t be allowed.”

With no further discussion, the final plat for The Shores of Five Island Lake was adopted following a motion offered by Supervisor Ron Graettinger and seconded by Wirtz with a unanimous vote by the board.