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Drainage Problem Area Troubling Supervisors

April 18, 2013
Dan Voigt , Emmetsburg News

An ongoing drainage issue kept the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors occupied during their weekly session on Tuesday, April 16. A classification report on a drainage project created considerable discussion before a partial resolution was reached by the Supervisors.

Drainage Engineer Kent Rode of I&S Group, along with Drainage Attorney Jim Hudson, were on hand as the board considered the classification report on Drainage District 180 Lateral 31. The lateral was created last fall in the Emmetsburg Industrial Park along 25th Street in Emmetsburg.

Following a petition for drainage relief, a 12" perforated plastic tile was installed from the west side of the Industrial Park to a detention basis on the northeast corner of the property, to help alleviate standing water issues at residences immediately to the west of the property. A report of the re-classification commissioners was reviewed and accepted by the supervisors, with the reclassification values being determined by the amount of area being drained, the amount of runoff of an area or imperviousness to water and on the proximity to the drainage facility for each parcel in the watershed.

On Tuesday, landowner Roger Chism, along with attorney Scott Buchanan, appeared at the hearing to object to the assessment proposed on his property.

Chism questioned why contractor had dug holes on his property, which have now created ponding issues since recent rains. "The contractor took dirt off my property too, and now it looks it did before with the water sitting there."

Rode replied he was not aware that dirt had been removed from Chism's property.

"Well, it appears I'm being surfaced drained for the power company's property," Chism stated. "I've had crop loss and will continue to have crop loss out there."

Chism filed a written objection to the assessment, and also presented a written objection to an assessment on behalf of neighboring landowner Bill Conway.

Drainage Attorney Jim Hudson read both objections, which requested to be exempted from assessments.

The supervisors began to discuss the two objections.

"We were told from the very start that this option would not solve the problems out there," noted Supervisor Keith Wirtz.

"I don't feel I should be paying for something I'm not getting any benefit from," Chism stated. "That's why I don't want to pay for something that don't work."

"To me the problem out there belongs to the Emmetsburg Development Corporation's and the City of Emmetsburg," Supervisor Linus Solberg said.

"I agree totally," Jim Hudson said.

"We're trying to put a band-aid on this, but if more development takes place out there, the area is going to need more drainage work," Kent Rode said.

"The city said they had the lots ready to go before Iowa Lakes Electric bought their lot," Solberg said. "At least they were supposed to."

"Why don't the people out there with the problem go to the city, instead of the drainage district?" Supervisor Ed Noonan asked.

"We tried to work out a deal with the development group on this, but they walked away," Hudson reminded the board.

After discussion the objection of Conway, the board voted 3-2 to reject Conway's objection, with Noonan and Solberg voting against the motion.

After hearing Chism's objection and request for exemption from assessment, the discussion continued.

"Every time you mix urban and Ag drainage, it goes sideways," Hudson observed.

Discussion on the idea of reducing Chism's assessment followed, but Hudson reminded the board that reducing one assessment would spread that assessment to the remaining landowners in the district.

"To abitrailarily lower assessments in wrong, in my opinion," Rode said.

"If we lower yours," Noonan told Chism, "then it's more unfair to the rest of the landowners. That's the dilemma I face, Roger."

"Well, if people don't come to these hearings to defend themselves, they can end up with a higher assessment," Chism said.

However, Chism's objection was also denied on a unanimous vote of the board.

With the objections overruled, the board considered the final assessment report.

"I'd like to lower the rural assessments, because I think the urban landowners are getting more benefit," Noonan said.

"Something should be done, but I'm not sure what," Solberg agreed.

"I just don't see how we can change any of this," Supervisor Jerry Hofstad observed. "It's all cut and dried."

"I'd say let's go with it the way it's all set up," Wirtz agreed.

"I agree," Graettinger said. "We have to go along with our commissioners report and accept this."

The board then approved the assessment report on a 3-2 vote, with Solberg and Noonan voting against the motion, bringing the meeting to a close.



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