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Supervisors Conduct Formal Hearing

By Staff | Sep 9, 2015

With 40 landowners and citizens of Cylinder present on Tuesday afternoon, August 25, a formal hearing on proposed improvements and repairs for Drainage District 28 was conducted by the Palo Alto county Board of Supervisors. Drainage Engineers Jon Rosengren and Don Etler of Bolton and Menk of Spencer were on hand to present a final proposal to improve drainage in the area, with Drainage Attorney Jim Hudson of Hudson Law Firm of Pocahontas on hand to give legal instruction and advice on the project.

Etler reminded those in attendance that the district being talked about, which lies in northeast Vernon and northwestern Independence Townships, drains some 2,700 acres of farmable land.

“Why should we have to pay the assessment for something that will not benefit our farm? My wife’s farm is being assessed five different ways and the farm will not benefit from any drainage. It already drains good enough,” questioned one landowner.

“Unfortunately, your land is along several tiles. Even if you do not hook into a tile, the opportunity is there for you to do so. This is why you are assessed in so many different ways,” Etler explained.

“That may be, however, we don’t want or need it so why should we have to pay for something someone else wants,” the landowner said.

One Cylinder resident said, “I read last week that you said this will not dump any more water into Cylinder Creek. It is common sense that if you are putting in a larger tile or making the open ditch bigger, more water will flow downstream. It is perfectly flat around Cylinder. There is no way this is a good idea for the town.”

“The best thing farmers upstream from Cylinder can do is to make surface runoff less. This can only be done by making the ground hold more water and this is done by tiling,” Etler said.

“You can’t tell me that Cylinder won’t have more flooding problems with more tiling and a bigger open ditch,” was another comment.

“I can tell you what research and past experience has shown us and that is, if subsurface drainage is improved, surface runoff will be also,” said Etler.

“The District is really divided into two parts. The East side which is flat with poor drainage and the West side, which slopes and has good drainage. By looking at the proposed improvements and repairs, the drainage ditch definitely needs to be looked at first and can be separate from the rest of the proposal. The rest of the proposal or just parts of it can be done at a later date. I do feel the need to take care of the open ditch as soon as possible with the Waters of the United States taking effect August 28. We just don’t know how this will affect drainage going forward,” Etler stated.

“As it is, no one can tell us how a nexus to a traditional stream will be determined. So if the Environmental Protection Agency can’t interpret the law, we need to worry about how this will affect us in the future,” Hudson said.

“Do landowners who may potentially be annexed into this district have a vote on the proposal?” was a question asked.

“Once the land has been annexed, then the landowner has a vote but not until then. It would not be fair for someone who is not even in the district to be able to vote for or against the drainage improvement before they are really affected by it,” Hudson said.

“Jim, would it be legal to continue this hearing and read objections or supports at a later date?” Supervisor Linus Solberg asked.

“Yes, I would recommend that you take time to digest the information you have been given,” Hudson advised.

“If you are going to do this drainage work, then I feel that you should look at drainage improvements in the Cylinder area first since this will affect the town just as much as the farmers,” one Cylinder resident said.

“We can look at this area in the future. I agree that the information you’ve been given needs to be digested. I would not make any decisions today. I would recommend looking at this project in two parts the open ditch and the tiling,” Elter said.

“Remember, you may file a written objection anytime up until a final decision is made. Once a decision is made, if you have filed a written objection, you may have a lawyer file and appeal on the matter. I also recommend filing a written report if you are to be annexed. It won’t be counted but your thoughts will be known,” Hudson added.

With all this in mind and some further discussion, Supervisor Linus Solberg moved to continue the formal hearing on Tuesday, November 10 at 1:00 p.m.