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Drainage Hearings Address Pair Of Projects

By Staff | Jan 26, 2016

The Palo Alto county Board of Supervisors, along with Rick Hopper, Drainage Engineer from Jacobson-Westergard of Spencer and Jim Hudson, Drainage Attorney from Hudson Law Firm of Pocahontas, held separate meetings for two Drainage Districts, Tuesday, January 19 at the election center in Emmetsburg.

Drainage District 48 Lateral 3 had a voluntary annexation request filed by Fred Wirtz for a portion of his acres in that area that will benefit from any improvements made to this section of the drainage tile. The report on that annexation, filed by Hopper was approved unanimously.

The supervisors then opened a continuation of a hearing on Drainage District 61 Lateral B.

“Objections, approvals or changes in filings will continue to be accepted until the Supervisors make a decision on what will be done,” Hudson began. The attorney went on to explain that DD61 Lateral B was about the most confusing drainage district he has seen, because of lands being annexed out that shouldn’t have been allowed out, and other lands that would benefit from repairs or improvements not being included in the dis

trict.

“The Supervisors are required to make repairs on a Drainage District, but an improvement cannot continue if a remonstrance is met. A remonstrance is met when more than 50% of the landowners by population who also own more that 70% of the land by area object to the improvement. We have gotten some new objections and some have changed their original filing,” Hudson explained.

A parallel tile with a half-inch drainage coefficient met the requirements for a remonstrance with over 50% of landowners who also own more than 70% of the total acres objecting to this improvement. The open ditch option, however, did not meet the requirements for a remonstrance with 48.6% of landowners who owned 69.1% to the total acres filing objections.

Discussion then turned toward what needed to be done to improve drainage in the district.

“How many here would prefer tile over an open ditch?” landowner Fred Wirtzr asked.

“I would much rather see a tile go in than an open ditch,” replied landowner James Miller.

Other area landowners were in agreement that they would prefer a tile to an open ditch; just not a 66-inch tile.

“Would it be possible to expend the open ditch at least another half mile and how much more do you think that would cost?” Althea King, landowner asked.

“Costs should be minimal,” Hopper replied.

“Another question that needs to be addressed is how many farmers that are here think or know that they will have mitigated acres?” Supervisor Craig Merrill asked.

“My mom thinks our pasture is,” King said.

“I know that there are still some determination that have to be completed yet,” stated Jeremy Thilges, Field Technician for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

“If you haven’t requested a determination yet, the Supervisors cannot do it for you. You, as the landowner, need to request this,” Merrill said.

“How many acres are we destroying with this open ditch?” Miller asked.

“Not many. Permanent easements would be required for 17.3 acres,” Hopper said.

“We are still waiting on a ruling from the NCRS on mitigated wetlands in this district. Not having all the determinations makes it had to decide what we are going to do,” Merrill said.

After more discussion on the issue, it was conceded that landowners would prefer tile to an open ditch, just not one that is 66-inches in diameter.

“I can come up with two options to compare, a one-fourth inch coefficient and the open ditch fairly quickly,” Hopper said.

“Here is what I propose you do, summarize the cost of an open ditch and the Supervisors should direct the engineer to amend the report to a parallel tile that is 36 to 48 inches in diameter, giving a one-fourth inch coefficient. Then submit it to the Supervisors for approval, file it with the Auditor and get it to Jeremy for NRCS consideration,” Hudson said. “Start over with objections, that way there is no confusion even though the process is delayed a little longer. Send a letter to every landowner with the two proposed options and have them object or approve and be specific in their response. I would wait until we get the final wetland determination from NCRS to set another meeting.”

“Anyone who has requested a determination and has not received it let me know and I can try to get it moved to the top of the pile,” Thilges told the landowners.

With little more discussion, it was determined by the Supervisors that the formal hearing should be continued at a later date, once all wetland determinations are done.