Lake Independence outlet is clogged


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The Independence City Council Tuesday, June 26, learned that overgrowth of vegetation is blocking the outlet from Lake Independence and resulting high water is destroying shoreline improvements.

In effect, money spent on preventing shoreline erosion is being washed away.

City Councilor Brad Spencer reported on the problem and said that an engineering assessment is needed to determine what needs to be done and what it would cost to relieve the flooding. The engineering study is estimated to cost $4,000. If five entities – including the city of Independence – were to share costs, each share would amount to $800.

If all five entities participate in the study, Independence would partner with the Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed District, the Lake Independence Citizens Association, the Three Rivers Park District and the city of Medina.

The City Council approved the cost sharing arrangement for the feasibility study, but the vote was not unanimous. City Councilor Norm Wenck voted no.

He said that if there is a problem with the water level in Lake Independence, it is the DNR’s (Department of Natural Resources) problem. Paying for a feasibility study is "a slippery slope." "We’ll end up being responsible for fixing it," he said.

Spencer said that a number of years ago a study revealed that overgrowth of vegetation was blocking the Lake Independence outlet.

City Councilor Linda Betts said things "have changed dramatically in five years." High water now has resulted in trees falling down.

The City Council also took up other business on June 26. Here are some meeting highlights.


City Planner Mark Kaltsas asked for and got City Council approval of a comprehensive plan amendment to accommodate expansion of Vinland National Center, located on the north side of Lake Independence. Among other things, Vinland offers residential chemical dependency treatment for people with cognitive disorders.

Kaltsas said the Metropolitan Council has approved Independence’s application for the comp plan amendment, which is needed for extending sanitary sewer service to Vinland. The amendment changes the land use of 10 acres from Agriculture to Medical Institutional Campus.

Vinland has announced a June 27 groundbreaking for the expansion project that will add 20 chemical health beds to the current 41-bed facility.


Planner Kaltsas asked the City Council for direction on what to do about a request from a Lake Independence resident who owns two acres of property in the Shoreland Overlay District. The resident wants to split the property into two lots. However, two different sets of rules might be applied to the situation. And previous city councils and city staff might have interpreted similar situations differently.

City Attorney Bob Vose said regulations for the Shoreland Overlay District "do not speak to" whether a lot could be subdivided. They only talk about the minimum lot size of one acre.

Planner Kaltsas noted that city ordinances do talk about subdividing properties. An owner of Rural Residential property needs at least 7.6 acres in order to subdivide the parcel.

City Councilor Wenck commented that one-acre lots are okay if sanitary sewer serves them.

City Councilor Spencer suggested looking at surrounding properties and making a decision that is in keeping with the neighborhood.

City Councilor Linda Betts suggested looking at the topography and what the land will be used for.


The City Council also:

APPROVED the purchase of a 2012 plow truck with gravel box, plow, wing and sander at a total cost of $197,034.94. This one truck will replace Independence’s two trucks. Public Works Director Dan Koch recently sold one of them "as is" for $400.

APPROVED a conditional use permit that enables Rick Altendorf to split property at 6785 County Road 11 into two 10-acre rural view lots and one 62-acre principal lot.

CANCELLED the July 10 City Council meeting due to lack of an agenda.

CANCELLED the Aug. 14 City Council meeting because of primary elections and rescheduled it for Tuesday, Aug. 21.