A policy addressing the upgrading of Level B gravel roads in the county was amended following action by the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning. The action came as an outgrowth of a meeting a week earlier regarding the county's "Good Neighbor Policy" on livestock confinements.
In the meeting last week, developers of confinements and livestock producers brought up the county's policy of charging owners a portion of the costs incurred when a Level B road is upgraded to handle the increased truck traffic created by a confinement operation.
Under the county's policy, adopted in 2005, a producer requesting a road be updated would be charged one-half of the county's cost to regrade, build up, re-rock and re-gravel the road, which averaged $15,000 per mile. The county would cover half of that cost, with the producer paying the other half.
However, in last week's meeting, it was pointed out that the tax revenues generated by confinement operations should be taken into account when such requests are made.
Members of the county's Planning and Zoning Commission agreed with the idea, which prompted Tuesday's discussion by the Supervisors.
As the board discussed the policy, it was noted that the road policy could be tied to the Good Neighbor Policy, thereby giving the policy an aspect of enforceability it had lacked since its inception.
"In my case, I moved a building a quarter mile to meet the Good Neighbor Policy,"?noted Lee Wagner, a producer from the West Bend area. "I have to pay $6,500 to bring the REC to the site, and then I?have to pay to fix the road, too?"
"If you follow the Good Neighbor Policy, you have to spend another $6,000 to $7,000 to improve roads,"?Ed Schmidt, another producer building a confinement said. "If you just follow the DNR regulations, you don't have to pay for a road."
Schmidt also noted by upgrading a road, adjacent landowners also faced costs for new culverts in farm drives as well, which would also be unpopular.
It was noted that neighboring Kossuth County did not charge for such road upgrades to confinements.
"What does Planning and Zoning think?" asked Supervisor Linus Solberg.
"The road policy is contradictory to the Good Neighbor Policy," replied P&Z?member Mike Brown. "With this policy, heaven forbid if someone wants to build a new house on a Level B road."
The supervisors agreed that there was a need to support the taxpayers and that charging for a road upgrade seemed to be unfair. After several minutes of discussion, Supervisor Ed Noonan moved to amend the road policy to read "if a requester is in compliance with the Good Neighbor Policy, the policy will be to upgrade the road to Level A status."
On a roll call vote, all five supervisors voted for the motion,
"This should give the Good Neighbor Policy some teeth,"?Noonan said. "If you don't comply, you will pay for your road."