Tuesday, April 24, 2012

County Board Meeting & Highway Department Worksession for April 24, 2012

County Board Chair Jan Hall and Commissioners Sue Hakes, Jim Johnson, Bruce Martinson and Fritz Sobanja were all present for today's County Board meeting which included a Worksession with the Highway Department.  Also present were Braidy Powers, Janet Simonen, David Betts, and Russ Klegstad.

Garry Gamble, representing the Citizen's For Cook County Group, presented their group principles, a list of requests for the Community Center Steering Committee, an informational sheet on Feasibility Studies and an example survey.

Molly Hoffman gave her opinion about the results of the SEER Analytical survey recently presented by the YMCA regarding Cook County demographics.

Superior Cycling Association
Tim Kennedy and Mark Spinler of the Superior Cycling Association gave a presentation of their group's plan for extending the mountain bike trail systems in Cook County.  The group hopes to build 30 miles of single track trail on Pincushion Mountain and Britton Peak.  Kennedy and Spinler asked the County Board to support a MN Legacy Grant proposal they intend to submit this Fall.  The County Board made a motion to support the grant.  And, while the County Board was very positive about existing and planned mountain bike trails, they were unable to give financial support for the project at this time.

Highway Department
The County Board approved a Cooperative Construction and Development Agreement between the County and Lutsen Mountains Corporation to share the costs for the CSAH 5 reconstruction project.  Total cost for the project is anticipated to be $662,222 with Lutsen Mountain Corporation cost sharing $135,322.

The County Board approved a request to trade a 2008 CAT 450E Backhoe/Loader for a 2011 CAT 430EIT Backhoe/Loader, plus the purchase of attachments and warranty.  The cost of the attachments and warranty is $17,023.  The larger 450E is too large and cumbersome for use on any of the Highway Department's roadway projects.  The 430EIT is more appropriately sized for the needs of the Highway Department.  The $17K is not in the 2012 budget, but will be paid for with the savings achieved by buying a used forklift instead of a new forklift.

As requested by Highway Engineer David Betts, the Board approved the purchase of office furniture for $3763 to replace a mismatch of poorly designed and improperly configured tables currently being used as a workstation.

Maintenance Department
Brian Silence recommended hiring Jackie Meyers to fill the open Custodian position.  Eight applications were received for the position.  The Board approved the hiring recommendation from Silence and Janet Simonen.

Land Commissioner/County Assessor
The Board approved a cleaning contract with Gloria Johnson for Leo and Clearwater Lake landings at the same terms as last year.

The Board approved a tax abatement in the amount of $528 for Great River Energy.  The abatement was necessary to correct a clerical error made in GRE's personal property.

Hovland Dock Property
The Board authorized $2236.59 for a survey to clear up a discrepancy found along the west line of the county property at the Hovland Dock.  A quiet title action was conducted in 2002, but quit claim deeds were never granted to the adjoining land owners.  Quitclaim deeds will be issued once the survey is complete.

Cook County Historical Society
Gene Erickson and Carrie McHugh, representing the Cook County Historical Society, requested $350,000 of One Percent Sales Tax funding to expand the History museum.  Commissioner Sobanja had concerns about the close proximity to Lake Superior of the proposed addition.  Commissioners Hakes and Johnson stated that because this project wasn't identified at the time the Referendum vote was taken, that the project would have to wait until there was resolution on the original projects proposed for One Percent funding and voter-approved.  The request was rejected unanimously by the board.

A Public Hearing was held to discuss Cook County Redistricting.  The proposed redistricting plan was approved by the Board.  No public input was received.

Planning & Zoning
The Board approved a capital purchase request from Planning & Zoning Director Tim Nelson for a 20 cubic yard capacity trailer with bins to replace the 20-year old trailer that has rusted out.  The cost of $18,550 is in the 2012 budget.

In March 2011, Walter and Nancy Sellman were issued an Interim Use Permit (IUP) for the use of a recreational vehicle for habitation on their Greenwood Lake property.  Conditions attached to the IUP stated that the property must conform to MN Rule 7080 and Cook County septic requirements.  This condition has not been met over a year later.  Several attempts at communication with the Sellmans went unanswered and ultimately a notice of the intention to revoke the permit was issued by the Office of Planning & Zoning.    Subsequently, the Sellman's completed a permit application and submitted the $150 processing fee.  The Planning Commission met and ultimately passed a motion that the Sellmans must install a Type 1 standard or Type 2 holding tank on their Greenwood Lake property before June 15, 2012 or the IUP shall be revoked.  The County Board supported the Planning Commission recommendation by 4-1 with Hakes opposed.

A Conditional Use Permit was granted to the Lutsen Trail Breakers Snowmobile Club allowing placement of a recreational storage building in the FAR-3 zone district on 4.6 acres owned by Cook County.  Several conditions were attached to the CUP including the condition that "any lighting on the site shall be directed downward or otherwise positioned to minimize impacts to adjacent property owners and to preserve nighttime ambience."

A Use Permit was approved for the Lutsen Trailbreakers Snowmobile Club to maintain a base of operations on the Caribou Trail to maintain snowmobile trails.

Community Center Financial Projections
Duluth YMCA President/CEO Chris Francis presented the Board with the results of the SEER Analytical Study for Cook County.  He also presented the YMCA's best estimates for an operating budget.  This budget is subject to change as programming and building design is defined.  Current projections show an estimated annual loss between $175,000 and $192,000.  By comparison, the Grand Marais City pool looses approximately $225,000 annually.

Options for making up the annual deficit include fundraising, growth in membership, government subsidy or a combination of all three.

Lutsen Fire Hall Expansion
Lutsen Township is planning an expansion to its existing Fire Hall/Town Hall.  This expansion is projected to cost just under $600,000.  The township intends to ask the County for a $350,000 loan.  There appears to be willingness on the part of the County Board to make this loan; Braidy Powers will first prepare an overview of the balance and terms for all monies currently being loaned by the County to other entities.

Cross County Ski and Snowmobile Trail Assistance Programs
A motion was passed for Cook County to act as the legal sponsor for (2) trail grants:  cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Emergency Management Conference
Cook County's annual Emergency Services Conferences is being held April 27-28 at the Community Center.  All are welcome.

MN Power Foundation has given a $3000 grant for this conference.  Emergency Management Director Jim Wiinanen will send a formal thank you.

The Board authorized $6,000 for boreal.TV to videograph all regular and special Cook County Board meetings held at the Courthouse.  Meetings will be available on boreal.TV within 24 hours of occuring.  A DVD will also be provided to the library for viewing.

AT&T Tower on Gunflint Trail
The County Board unanimously approved an agreement between the County and AT&T for a new tower on the Gunflint Trail.  The new tower will be built on the same footprint as the current tower and paid for 100% by AT&T, but owned by Cook County.  AT&T will also remove all equipment from the current tower and reinstall on the new tower at the same heights.  In return, AT&T will use the tower at no charge for 25 years.  The new tower will be used for public safety communications, WTIP radio, and cell phone communications.

A worksession between the County Board and David Betts, Highway Engineer, and Russell Klegstad, Highway Department Supervisor.  The worksession began at approximately 2 pm and was adjourned at approximately 5:45 pm.  Topics discussed included the 10 year Equipment Replacement Schedule, road maintenance in the Special Tax Districts, Signage, Permitting Processes, Facilities and Roads.