HLWD Project 2 Reestablishment of Records
Location: Sections 1, 2, 11, 12, and 14 in LaCrosse Township and Section 7 in Weimer Township
Size: 985 acres
Project: Open ditch and drain tile system with two tile branches
Status: Project was constructed in 1973 by the HLWD (formerly knowns as the Middle Des Moines Watershed District).
At the June 12, 2019 HLWD meeting, the Board approved the Findings and Order Initiating the Reestablishment of Drainage System Records for HLWD Project 2. The landowner information meeting was held on July 23. Chuck Brandel gave a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the ROR process, information on hand, and information that is needed. Landowners had the opportunity to ask questions and provide information. Ten landowners were in attendance.
The ROR report for HLWD Project 2 is mostly complete. It will be sent to the District Administrator for review before submission.
On March 5, Jacob Rischmiller submitted the draft report for the Reestablishment of Records (ROR) for HLWD Project 2. The report was reviewed and suggested changes submitted on March 10.
On March 10, Kent Freking inquired about the process and progress on the ROR for HLWD Project 2. Jan Voit contacted Chuck Brandel and Jacob Rischmiller about the possibility of a landowner information meeting. They agreed that it was necessary. A memo was drafted on March 11 and sent to them for review. The memo was printed and envelopes prepared. Given the situation with COVID-19, on March 18 the decision was made to hold off on the mailing.
The original viewers’ report identified tile takeover of a tile line on the Mathias property (now owned by Kent Freking). When the ROB was done in 2017, the viewers’ did not include this line. It was determined that a new ROB would be required, but in order for the viewers to have accurate information, a ROR would be needed to obtain information regarding tile size, depth, footage, or grade. On June 12, 2019, the Board of Managers of the HLWD ordered a ROR for HLWD Project 2.
Jackson County holds the funds for HLWD Project 2. As bills are received for the ROR, reimbursement is requested from Jackson County through HLWD Project 2 drainage system funds.
On March 31, Jason Freking contacted Jan Voit regarding his assessment for HLWD Project 2. It is his understanding, after speaking with Kevin Nordquist, that the costs associated with the ROR that have been submitted by the HLWD have been assessed based on the current benefits schedule, which does not include the land in which the ROR is being done. He believes that he, and several other landowners, are being unfairly assessed for costs that should not be borne by them. He wanted to know what would be done to recoup those costs from the landowner(s) who are directly impacted by the ROR, as well as whether an outlet fee or some other charge would be assessed to those property owners since they have not been officially part of the system. Jan Voit will contact legal counsel about this situation.
On April 6, Jason Freking contacted Jan Voit again regarding HLWD Project 2. He provided a Middle Des Moines Watershed District resolution from 1973 and an assessment report. He was adamant that these documents proved that Kent Freking’s property had never been part of the system and had not been assessed.
On April 7, Tom Appel contacted Jan Voit regarding his 2020 assessment for HLWD Project 2. She explained that the assessment was likely related to the costs incurred for the ROR. For specifics regarding the length of time, he would need to contact Kevin Nordquist, Jackson County Auditor-Treasurer.
In order to respond to Jason Freking’s questions, Jan Voit contacted Chuck Holtman, Smith Partners; Kevin Nordquist, Jackson County, and Chuck Brandel, ISG. She also reviewed meeting minutes from 1973 and the copies of the original documents that Jackson County had on file.
A letter and supporting documentation were reviewed by the above-mentioned parties. The letter was sent on April 8. The conclusion, “The question as to whether the existing private tile was incorporated into the system will be considered by the Board of Managers (Board) of the HLWD at the hearing. The tracts in Sections 11 and 12 listed above were included in the viewers’ report as benefited by the project. The landowners have been paying assessments for the original construction, as well as the Redetermination of Benefits that was completed in 2017, and for the costs of the ROR that have been assessed.”
Following the conference call on April 9, Chuck Brandel and Jan Voit discussed the need for a landowner information meeting. A memo was drafted, reviewed, and sent. The landowner information meeting will be held by Skype for Business on April 16.
Jason Freking contacted Jan Voit on April 13 regarding the correspondence. He understands that the property in question is part of the system. He strongly believes that only that property should be paying the costs involved with ROR. That afternoon, she spoke with Chuck Brandel regarding items to address at the landowner meeting.
On April 16, an information meeting was held for HLWD Project 2 landowners. The meeting was done electronically through Skype for Business and teleconference. Chuck Brandel and Jacob Rischmiller gave a PowerPoint presentation. Attendees Jim Appel, Dean Christoffer, Dan Cranston, Perry Cranston, Jason Freking, Kent Freking, Robert Mathias, Ryan Freking, Robert Wolff, Colleen Freking, Dave Freking, Tom Appel, and Jan Voit.
Since the meeting, one landowner requested that ISG put together cost estimates for an improvement to this system.
The ROR report was submitted to the HLWD, Rita Weaver, BWSR; and Tom Kresko, DNR on May 1. The hearing notice, conduct and order for the hearing, and the order for the updated redetermination of benefits were drafted and sent to Louis Smith for review. The revised order and hearing notice were received on May 14 and sent to managers.
On June 22, Kent Freking contacted Jan Voit regarding Project 2. He was concerned about information he had been told during a conversation with one of the HLWD managers.
On June 22, Joyce Pelzel contacted Jan Voit with questions regarding Project 2. She printed a copy of the ROR report for Mrs. Pelzel and met with her later that day.
On June 22, Jan Voit drafted a memorandum and completed a mailing to Project 2 landowners. The hearing notice was sent to the Tri County News for publication. The information was provided to ISG, legal counsels, and Jackson County staff on June 23.
On June 29, Jim Appel stopped at the office to get a copy of the ROR report. He had concerns about a missing 10” tile line and a rural water line.
On July 9, the Board held a hearing on the Reestablishment of Records (ROR) for HLWD Project 2. The Board ordered:
• The Board hereby corrects the drainage system records of HLWD Project 2 to reflect the alignment; cross-section; profile; hydraulic structure locations, materials, dimensions, and elevations; and right-of-way of the drainage system as detailed in the engineer’s report of findings dated April 29, 2020.
• The Board further directs filing and recording of documents necessary to reflect the reestablishment and correction of the public drainage system records established herein.
The Board also found that the benefited or damaged areas have changed, and therefore it is appropriate to initiate the redetermination of benefits (ROB) pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 103E.351, and accordingly:
• The Board hereby initiates a proceeding for the redetermination of benefits and shall follow the procedures of Minn. Stat. § 103E.351 to conduct an updated redetermination of benefits for HLWD Project 2.
• Ron Ringquist, Dan Ruby, Chuck Bowers, and Tom Peterson are hereby appointed as viewers to redetermine and report the benefits and damages for HLWD Project 2.
• Within five days of this Order, the Secretary shall execute an Order designating a time and location for the first meeting of the viewers and mail to the viewers a copy of the Secretary’s Order along with a certified copy of this Order.
Following the meeting, Jan Voit contacted Ron Ringquist, Dan Ruby, and Chuck Bowers regarding their appointment as viewers. On July 15, oaths of office were sent to the viewers. The signed documents were received on July 27 and filed. They were also sent to legal counsel and the Jackson County Auditor-Treasurer.
Draft minutes were sent to Chuck Brandel for review on July 14. On July 27, he contacted Jan Voit regarding the draft document. Louis Smith provided the Findings and Order for the ROR and ROB. Draft minutes were sent to Louis Smith and Harvey Kruger on July 29.
The hearing minutes were approved at the August 19 HLWD meeting.