6/29/2017 3:44:00 PM Ditch alignments to be
addressed with legal help
The county is heading into a process of redetermination, or what might be a lengthy expensive tussle over the locations of some official ditches.
The ditch system rarely makes headlines. Ditches meander through the countryside as unobtrusive amenities facilitating commerce, draining fields for agricultural uses.
Over the last year or so the county ditch system has come into the spotlight due to the fact that; in the process of gearing up for enforcing ditch buffering environmental regulations, meant to protect water quality statewide, the county discovered that lengths of ditch are nowhere near where they’re supposed to be. Other ditches are less seriously out-of-alignment but still require legal attention.
Ditch clearing, maintenance and major repairs are paid for by abutting/benefitting landowners. These taxpayers are charged a ditch assessment as part of their property tax. The amount charged against each numbered ditch is based on taking into consideration the land being drained and useable surface.
Should ditches not be where they were understood to be, it affects everything.
Rinke Noonan, an attorney firm in St Cloud that specializes in ditch law, will assist Chisago County in “drainage matters”
The firm was hired on a 4-0 County Board vote last week--through 2017-- for the main goal of redetermining the ditch system.
Legal descriptions must be re-written to match up with where some of the ditches are, and other ditches may need to be physically re-routed, it’s not clear yet the extent of what has to happen, county commissioners were advised by staff.
At this time the county commissioners were told the costs for redetermination will come out of the ditch fund.
Joe Triplett, county engineer, says the ditch committee will come to the Board with recommendations. The season is here when repairs and cleanout get done but the potential for alignment of the ditches first needs to be addressed. Triplett hopes to have the recommendations ready for the second County Board meeting in July.
County Commissioner Mike Robinson advised that he’s “getting calls” about Ditch #9. Triplett said that’s one the committee is looking at.