Wright County approves surface water ordinance

By John Holler

In 2011, during a time when Wright County was battered with numerous heavy rain storms that were enough to raise county lake levels, the Wright County Board of Commissioners enacted an emergency No Wake Zone on county lakes. A year later, at the Aug. 21 meeting of the county board, the county adopted a water surface use ordinance.

Assistant County Attorney Greg Kryzer brought the ordinance to the board saying that the county attorney’s office wasn’t taking an official position on the matter and allowing individual lake associations to decide whether they wanted to be included in the ordinance or not.

“Wright County had an unprecedented amount of rain which resulted in a number of lakes being at a high elevation,” Kryzer said. “Looking back at the historical data, Wright County had over 18 inches of rain between May and July 2011 and the county was approached by lake shore owners requesting emergency no-wake ordinance.”

The county left the decision of setting no-wake restrictions at times of high water events up to individual lake associations. Of the 27 lake associations in the county, only four decided to enact the surface water ordinance — Cedar Lake, East West Lake Sylvia, Howard Lake and Lake Ann.

At the Aug. 21 public hearing, only four members of the public spoke up and the only negative comments came from a lake association that didn’t opt in to the program. The commissioners unanimously voted to approve the ordinance and allow lake associations that wish to enact the ordinance on their lake the opportunity to do so in the future if they choose.

“I want to thank the lake associations and the sheriff’s office because this was a laborious process,” Board Chair Rose Thelen said. “Last year was a learning process and I think we’re better off for it now.”

In other items on the Aug. 21 agenda, the board:

ACCEPTED the July revenue/expenditure guidelines. Auditor/Treasurer Bob Hiivala said that, through seven months of the budget year, both the revenue and expenditure budgets are on-line with budgeted amounts.

AWARDED the contract to resurface the parking lot at the Human Services Center. The low bid was received from Mind-Minnesota Hot Mix of Annandale for $155,814 — more than $50,000 less than the estimated cost of replacing the pavement in the lot.

AUTHORIZED the county’s delegates for the Association of Minnesota Counties fall policy committee meetings Sept. 27 to 28 in Brainerd.

BY a 3-1 vote authorized filling a vacant full-time administrative specialist position, which has been vacant for the last two years. Commissioner Pat Sawatzke voted against the proposal, claiming it could “open the floodgate” for other positions that have been frozen during the current economic downturn.

ANNOUNCED the cancellation of the Oct. 2 board meeting due to five Tuesdays in October.

APPROVED an amendment to the county joint powers agreement with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to include court data services. The current JPA covers the criminal justice data network but didn’t include court data services. The board unanimously approved the amendment on the recommendation of the county attorney’s office.

SCHEDULED a public hearing for 9:30 a.m. at the Sept. 11 board meeting to review grant applications being prepared for submission to the non-metro regional parks grant program and the park and trail legacy grant program.

ADOPTED a resolution conveying a pair of tax-forfeit land parcels to the city of St. Michael.

REAPPOINTED Mark Kampa to the Clearwater River Watershed District and authorized advertising for a second vacant position.

AUTHORIZED payment of $1,274 to the law firm of Madden Galanter Hansen for work done on behalf of the county in union negotiations in July.

SET a tentative meeting date to discuss a cleanout of Joint County Ditch 14 for either Sept. 12 or 13, depending on the availability of landowners in Stockholm Township. The ditch is shared by Wright, Meeker and McLeod counties.