10/11/2019 12:24:00 PM Ditch process near public hearing point
The re-establishment of ditches in Chisago County has hit an important point in a very lengthy and complicated process.
The County Board last week set a public hearing date for redetermining benefits and for creation of a new record for county ditches 1, 2 and 3. Several other ditch routes are involved in some level of the review-- but Deputy Auditor Bridgitte Konrad told the county commissioners last week these three ditches are at the point where a public hearing is held.
To get landowners affected by Ditches 1,2 and 3 up-to-speed there’s also an informal meeting, where ditch viewers can provide information to affected parties and County Board attendance is not required. Dates are: the informational meeting is 5 p.m. October 29 at the Government Center. The hearing on benefits is at 9 a.m. November 19. There is a short break for lunch and then the hearing on re-establishing the records for the three ditches is at 1 p.m. November 19.
Konrad advised there will be similar proceedings in the future for the other ditches when work on those is completed. She said dates and hours for meetings and hearings were based on the ditch viewers’ availability and schedules.
The experts are with H2O Viewers, a firm that specializes in redetermining benefitting parcels and they also were asked to estimate buffer strip impacts to operations.
Bolton and Menk engineering firm was hired for reviewing how the construction and alignments compare from original plans to what’s actually the ditch system situation in the field.
The ditch review began in earnest in 2016. The County Board acting as the Drainage Authority was responding to a state buffering law that eventually spelled out mandated setbacks from public waterways and or ditches, to slow run-off from farm fields that had been carried away directly by the ditches. Buffer strip rules were applied at different setbacks depending on if the ditch was considered a public waterway or not.
The ditches were visited and assessed by soil and water agency staff and the county ditch inspector from February to May 2016.
Along with maintenance needs and installation of underground piping in some locations-- it was discovered that not all Chisago County ditches were where they were shown on original (late 1930s) maps.
Ditch maintenance is paid for through a special assessment on property tax statements against parcels that benefit from the drainage provided. The ditch funds were also potentially affected when parcels, believed to be improved by a ditch were not, and other properties were getting a benefit but not paying into the fund.
The re-determination process was started by Board action in August 2018.