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Annexation of Drainage District Causes Controversy

August 3, 2017
by Anesa McGregor , Emmetsburg News

Thirty-four landowners met with the Palo Alto County Board of Supervisors to discuss annexation of land and improvements to Drainage District 61 in the southwest part of the county on July 19.

Drainage Attorney Jim Hudson from Hudson Law Firm in Pocahontas began the meeting by explaining that lands considered for annexation are lands, which have benefited from drainage into DD 61 but have not paid for drainage.

Hudson also explained that lands that are considered for annexation do not have a say in the process. Once these lands become part of the drainage district, they then become eligible to reject any proposed improvements by creating a remonstrance. A remonstrance is when more than 50 percent of the landowners owning more than 70 percent of the land within the district submit a rejection letter on the proposed improvements.

"Extensive repairs were done in this district in 1990," Don Etler, Drainage Engineer from Bolten and Menke of Spencer began. "Annexation of the same area was suggested at that time and the Board ultimately rejected the recommendation."

"At the request of the Supervisors, we did a survey to determine how many acres are within the watershed of DD 61," Jonathan Rosengren, Project Engineer with Bolten & Menke of Spencer said. "It has been determined there is 20,660 acres which benefit from drainage that have never paid into the district, we are recommending annexation of the 20,660 acres into Drainage District 61."

"The estimated cost of the project is $850,000," Rosengren continued. "When assessment are made on all current and annexed lands, those lands having direct access will pay more than the acres farther away."

Comments was made referring to land south of DD 61 declaring that if they don't start at the bottom and work your way up, then there is no point in doing any improvements.

"It's apparent that once you get rid of the water, that's it," Jerome Kuyper, landowner stated. "You don't care about downstream."

"A drainage district can cast off as much water as they can get rid of and the district south is responsible for dealing with the water," Hudson commented.

Discussions continued regarding the impact of land south of DD 651 and also what the potential impact to the City of West Bend.

"When doing improvements on our own ground, we start at the bottom and work our way up," Dean Gunderson said. "I have no idea what things look like south of the bridge, but it would make sense if we looked at the land south of the district and work our way back up.

There was further discussion regarding the options for lands that are recommended for annexation a date to be determined was set for continuing the annexation hearing.



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