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Supervisors Adopt Reclassification Report

By Staff | Jul 1, 2015

A reclassification hearing for a main drainage ditch and related lateral tile occupied the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors during its weekly meeting Tuesday. The Supervisors also granted approval for a pair of conditional use permits and a utility permit during the meeting as well.

Rick Hopper, drainage engineer from Jacobson-Westergard and Associates of Estherville was on hand to present the reclassification report for work complete on the Drainage District 7 Main Tile and Lateral 3 Tile. The main tile was done at a cost of $350,000 and the cost for work on the lateral tile totaled $290,000.

In reviewing the reclassification amounts, the board discussed a letter received from Joel Horsley, a landowner in the district, who questioned his assessment on 6.88 acres of lands that are a permanent, unfarmable wetland, according to the National Resource Conservation Service. Hopper was in agreement that a revision of that assessment was justified, due to the NRCS determination.

“I don’t want to see us setting a precedent on reducing a tract if a farmer comes in and tells us his land is a permanent wetland,” Supervisor Ed Noonan said. “Sometime in the future, he might want to drain that land, and he has access to do that with this work. And, the Waters Of The United States rules could change a lot of things in the future.”

“That’s very true,” agreed Hopper.

But after some additional discussion, Supervisor Keith Wirtz moved to reduce the assessment on Horsley’s tract by 50 percent because of the NRCS determination. The motion was approved on a 4-1 vote of the board, with Noonan casting the dissenting vote.

The board then approved the assessment report for the project on a unanimous vote, noting that 20-year waivers will most likely be offered to the landowners when the assessments are sent out.

The board met with Zoning Administrator Joe Neary to discuss a pair of conditional use permits. The first permit, for a free-standing communications tower, was requested for Section 21 of Highland Township. Julie Shebeck of USCOC of Greater Iowa, LLC, explained the 300-foot tower would be used by US Cellular to upgrade service to 4G for the area. The tower would be located just off U.S. Highway 18, a mile east of Ruthven.

“Planning and Zoning recommended approval of this permit,” Neary told the board. The Supervisors also approved the request on a unanimous vote.

Neary presented a conditional use permit from Mike Myers to add an additional confinement building at his location in Section one of Booth Township.

“I went out and did face to face with the people around the location,” Neary explained, “and there were no objections.”

Noting that the closest residence was just over a half-mile from the location, Neary acknowledged the permit met the county’s Good Neighbor Policy and also met the requirements of the state’s Master Matrix.

The board approved Myers’ request, and thanked him for his compliance with the Good Neighbor Policy.

Meeting with Palo Alto County Engineer Walter Davis-Oeth, the supervisors granted approval to a utility permit in sections 25 and 32 of Fern Valley Township for West Bend Municipal Utilities to bore 900 feet of underground lines to a confinement facility.

Davis-Oeth then brought up a request to upgrade a Level B road between 470 Avenue and 475 Street to a Level A road to better serve an acreage.

The board noted that in the past, policy called for a 50-50 split for costs of such upgrades between the county and the requestor.

“I would like to see each situation looked at individually for determination at the time on those,” Noonan said.

The board agreed with the comment, and approved the upgrade at county expense.

Noonan also asked when landowners around Silver Lake would be contacted regarding right of way land purchase for the Silver Lake road project. Davis-Oeth stated that the engineer’s office is waiting for clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency to go a head with the project but does not foresee any problems and has submitted permits to the Department of Natural Resources but do not have them all back yet. The wetland surrounding the project is currently the biggest issue.

Noonan also reported that representatives of the DNR held a meeting in Ayrshire and asked that a steering committee be formed to help the Silver Lake Restoration Committee. Noonan stated he was willing to serve, and Wirtz, along Merrill, also volunteered to serve on the group.