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Supervisors Approve Construction Easements and Continue Drainage Hearings

By Staff | Apr 12, 2012

Palo Alto County Engineer Joel Fantz sought a pair of temporary construction easements for a road construction project in Mallard. Drainage hearings were also continued for Drainage District 15 North and Drainage District 180 Lateral Tile 30. The actions came during the April 3 meeting of the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors.

“They would like to keep the golf course open while we do construction,” said Fantz. “We need a little more space along the edge of the road in order to do that.”

Fantz explained that the county would construct a road next to the existing road next to Sparky’s convenience store and Don and Judy Miller’s property at the Spring Hills Country Club.

“Palo Alto County will build the road,” said Fantz. “We’ll do something like we did on the Graettinger road where we did a bypass to get people around the back way.”

He said the idea is for the county to adopt the road into the road system so that the county would assume that liability.

Fantz presented the board with two temporary easements: one from Don and Judy Miller and one from Rolly Tiefenthaler (Al’s Corner Oil Co./Sparky’s).

“Are you actually going to move dirt?” asked Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

“Yes, we’ll be off that shoulder down in that lower end there. We’ll have an area where they can pull out and back out on both sides,” said Fantz. “Technically, it’s within the city of Mallard and they need to be party to the easement. After we do it here, we’ll send it down there.”

The supervisors unanimously approved the pair of temporary construction easements.

Also, the board approved a utility permit for underground electrical with Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative in Ellington Township.

In other business, the supervisors considered the appraiser’s report as part of a continued hearing on DD 15 North. Don Etler, engineer with Kuehl & Payer, and drainage attorney Jim Hudson were in attendance at the hearing.

Etler noted that the board has decided to move forward with the project and needs to acquire right of way for open ditch improvements. A question posed by a landowner addressed the issue of easements allowing the public to use an access road.

“The only people who have access are those maintaining it for the district,” answered Jim Hudson. “It’s not a public hunting, fishing, or trapping ground. You can give permission to whomever to access it. If you find people there, let us know.”

The hearing was continued to May 22, at 10 a.m. The agenda will include discussion on the acquisition of a nutrients-removal wetland site in Vernon Township. A minimum of 76.5 acres would need to be acquired. Also on the agenda will be discussion of an access easement. Etler noted that bids will be let on May 8.

In a separate drainage matter, a formal hearing on improvement to DD 180 Lateral 30 Tile was also conducted. Kent Rode, engineer with Kuehl & Payer, and attorney Jim Hudson participated in the hearing, as well as several affected landowners.

Emmetsburg City Administrator John Bird noted that he was aware of the drainage problem in the area of industrial park in southeast Emmetsburg.

“We know there’s a problem and something needs to be done. We’re willing to pay our fair share,” said Bird. “Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation owns the property, not the city. We would like to see all the parties involved sit down and find a solution.”

One concerned land-owner wondered if a suit against the drainage district would be possible.

Hudson explained that the supervisors have the discretion to move forward or to table the issue.

“We have always advised counties to stay neutral. There is no reason for them to object. They can veto any recommendation anyway,” said Hudson. “You can’t sue a drainage district because you can’t sue yourselves.”

A representative from Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative (ILEC) noted that the best option was to continue the meeting. He stated that ILEC met the zoning requirement and built properly.

“Everyone agrees there is an issue,” he said. “We’re not villains. We feel bad about what has happened. The parties affected north of the road need to come together.”

Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to continue the meeting, and Supervisor Jerry Hofstad urged the Palo Alto County Economic Development Corporation, City of Emmetsburg, and landowners to get together to discuss the problem.

The hearing was continued to June 12, at 10 a.m. Supervisors Leo Goeders and Jerry Hofstad will coordinate the meeting among the affected parties.