Minutes 10-4-12





October 4, 2012

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by Manager Pam Blixt at 6:50 p.m. at the District offices, 18202 Minnetonka Boulevard, Deephaven, Minnesota. 
James Calkins, Brian Shekleton, Richard Miller, Sherry Davis White, Pamela Blixt, Jeffrey Casale, William Olson.
Eric Evenson, District Administrator; James Wisker, District Planning Director; Renae Clark, District Projects Manager; Steve Christopher, District Regulatory Program Manager; Michael Panzer, District Consulting Engineer; Chuck Holtman, District Counsel.




The agenda was approved by unanimous consent. 


It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Olson to approve the minutes of September 27, 2012.  Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.


Olson reported that the Aquatic Invasive Species Task Force has had contentious and productive meetings.  Most recently, the task force has identified aquatic invasive species (AIS) vectors and prioritized those vectors and approaches to AIS management.  He noted that education has scored very high.  A draft 2013 prevention plan has been produced by the Task Force working with District staff.  The plan was discussed on October 3 and supported by a vote of 11-1 from a group that included representatives of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District, the Lake Minnetonka Association, the Three Rivers Park District, lake associations, marina owners, the fishing/sports industry and others.  The Department of Natural Resource observed but did not participate.  He noted the strong teamwork and participation to date in working to develop a program.

Mr. Evenson informed the Board that the task force next will transmit the draft plan to the Hydrodata Committee for review on October 15 and then the intent is to proceed to the Board for discussion on October 25.  The Board will be asked to authorize a broader distribution for review and the Citizens’ Advisory Committee will discuss the plan on November 15.  This would bring the plan back to the Board in late November.

(Manager Casale arrived at this time.)

Mr. Evenson noted that the Executive Committee meeting was cancelled but will convene at the rescheduled time of October 8, 4:00 p.m., St. Louis Park City Hall.  Manager Shekleton said that the Legislative Committee met and discussed legislative initiatives but is not prepared to present a program to the Board at this time.  Manager Casale advised of an Information Technology Committee meeting on October 23, tentatively scheduled for St. Louis Park City Hall.  Mr. Evenson noted a meeting of the Metro Minnesota Association of Watershed Districts on October 16 and identified Managers Olson, Blixt and White as liaisons.  Manager Calkins noted the October 15 date for the Hydrodata Committee.


Approval of the checking account check register was removed and placed on the action agenda as item 9.2.


Permit 12-363, Ashland Woods, LLC (Shorewood)

Mr. Christopher presented the permitting matter, which involves a proposed seven-lot residential subdivision on 4.35 acres that drains to the East Upper Lake of Lake Minnetonka.  Final hard surface will be 1.05 acres.  Mr. Christopher advised that peak rate control measures meet regulatory standards and that there will be no net phosphorus increase.  He reviewed the volume control approach outlined in the rules and the analysis that was done on site to determine the amount of abstraction that could be accomplished in light of poor soils and site topography.  Mr. Christopher recommended supporting the request for variance on a part of the volume control standard and recommended approval of the permit with six conditions as outlined in the staff report.

Responding to Manager Miller’s question, Mr. Christopher advised that the extra volume would flow into a heavily wooded area of Freeman Park, a public park.  Manager Miller expressed concern about just moving water downgradient.  Manager White asked about the option of developing six houses rather than seven. 

Cara Otto, Otto Associates, appeared as the engineer for the applicant.  She responded that the question is whether the development can remain economically viable.  She stated that normally three to four percent of site area is devoted to stormwater management in similar residential developments and that in this case the proposal already encompasses eleven percent of the area.

Manager Blixt asked what effect the poor soils would have on confidence that the planted trees will remain healthy over the long term.  Mr. Christopher replied that poor soils for infiltration purposes does not mean that they will be compromised in supporting trees.  He noted the surrounding woodland. 

Responding to Manager Calkins, Mr. Christopher stated that staff recommends granting the variance because the peak flow and phosphorus standards are met and the volume control would be met to the extent feasible.  Manager Calkins noted the importance of the volume control standard.  He asked about collecting roof water.  Ms. Otto replied that roof water presently is going into the stormwater system, except for two backyard roofs.  Manager Calkins noted that this does not provide volume control and suggested that the use of cisterns would accomplish control.  Ms. Otto replied that they would still be requesting a variance because such measures alone could not meet the remaining volume requirements.

Responding to Manager Calkins, Mr. Christopher said that the permit could require the maintenance declaration to include terms on tree health, similar to vegetative health as treated in buffer declarations.

Manager Miller said he is inclined to vote against the variance but also noted the teardown activity in urban areas such as the City of Edina where hard surface is maximized.  He suggested that if such building came before the District, it would be rejected.  Ms. Otto reiterated that the high percentage of area devoted to stormwater management becomes a hardship regarding the ability to develop.  She emphasized that the developer met with the District engineer and staff and that collectively they explored all possibilities.  Manager Calkins said he appreciates that but nevertheless questions the reasonableness of sending the water downgradient.  Manager White asked if water currently leaves the property and if the amount would increase with the proposal.  Ms. Otto replied that there would be a slight volume increase, but no peak flow increase.  Mr. Panzer quantified the increase as about 1,000 cubic feet for each one-inch rain event.  He noted that even if the standard is met, there still will be a slight increase.  He further observed that one option would be a central irrigation system, but in a residential subdivision such as this it would not be certain who would operate and maintain the system. 

Manager Casale reflected on the fact that District staff and the District engineer have been engaged with the applicant and he does not think they would be cavalier in recommending a variance.  He is inclined to defer to staff.  Manager Calkins said he agrees but that the Board does not have full information about where the water goes, any downstream flooding and similar matters.  Mr. Christopher said that the flow would be conveyed through an open channel and culvert through Freeman Park to Lake Minnetonka.  Ms. Otto said that the City engineer reviewed the stormwater flows during the platting process and gave no indication of concerns. 

It was moved by Manager Shekleton, seconded by Manager Casale to return the application to staff to develop more information on the potential impacts of the excess off-site volume and any potential further means to mitigate it.

Mr. Evenson noted that the City of Shorewood approached the District a year ago to discuss a possible means of addressing erosion issues in the downgradient channel.  

Mr. Christopher advised that the application was deemed complete on September 25 so there is adequate time for further application review.  Ms. Otto noted that the developer has a closing date contingent on the District permit that will be passed before the permit returns.  Manager Miller replied that the Board is sympathetic to these concerns but that it must be responsible in its review.  Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

Steiger Lake Wetland Restoration 

Ms. Clark presented proposed resolution 12-092 under which the Board would delegate authority to the District Administrator to award the construction contract to Veit Companies on issuance of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers permit and closing on a property needed for the project, and further to amend the project budget.  Three bids were received.  Veit submitted the low bid at $448,507.25, which is $50,000 more than the engineer’s estimate.  The proposed new budget is increased by $88,000 and includes land acquisition cost as well as the bid price with a 10 percent contingency.  The resolution also would direct the Administrator to return with a proposed fund transfer and the additional funds would be part of the 2014 levy. 

Manager Miller asked about maintenance cost for the project.  Ms. Clark replied that the project basically involves excavation and two water control structures with a 40- to 50-year life.  Maintenance cost would be primarily for native vegetation and would be relatively low.

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Olson to adopt the proposed resolution as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the MCWD Board of Managers delegates authority to the District Administrator to award the contract for construction to Veit Companies in the amount of $448,507.25 on issuance of the USACE permit, closing on property necessary for the Project and advice of counsel, and authorizes the Administrator to execute a construction contract for the Steiger Lake Wetland Restoration Project and to return and otherwise administer bid bonds in accordance with the terms of the request for bids; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCWD Board of Managers establishes a project construction budget in the not-to-exceed amount of $493,507.25 and authorizes the District Administrator, in his judgment and on the recommendation of the construction manager, to authorize change orders obligating the District up to that amount; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the MCWD Board of Managers authorizes the Administrator to issue a formal notice to proceed to Veit Companies on advice of counsel, receipt of a signed contract and required sureties and insurance documentation.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the MCWD Board of Managers amends the total project budget to $628,207 and directs the Administrator to return with a proposed action for fund transfer in order to accommodate the increase in the Project fund.

Manager Blixt asked why the engineer’s estimate was low.  Ms. Clark replied that staff has discussed this and is reviewing past capital project estimates to look at the history.  One other bidder said that there is uncertainty about wetland drying even under cold conditions due to the hummocky substrate.  She added that all three contractors are considered good companies with sound bidding practices.  Manager Calkins noted that the contract price still is lower than the work plan estimate.  Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0. 

Check Register

Mr. Evenson asked that check number 32199 in the amount $20,304.74 be removed from the check register as the cost-share project is not yet complete and ready for payment.  The only remaining item on the check register is payment to Hennepin County of $18,476.46 for second half property taxes. 

It was moved by Manager Calkins, seconded by Manager Miller to approve the check register consisting of check 32198 in the amount of $18,476.46.  Upon vote, the motion carried 7-0.

Mr. Wisker said that the District has applied for the property tax exemption for a number of the Districts properties so that next year’s taxes should be substantially reduced.


2013 Legislative Report

Joel Carlson, the District’s legislative consultant, discussed upcoming legislative prospects.  He reviewed changes in legislative districts due to redistricting and the large number of retirements, and consequently the large number of seats where the outcome is more uncertain than is typical.

Mr. Carlson advised that the Governor’s staff is now preparing the budget for the next biennium with expected funding increases for the Department of Natural Resources, tourism and promotion, K-12 education and paying back the school-aid shift.  The present deficit as well as the funds owed the schools mean that the Governor will need new revenue to pay for any such increase.  Mr. Carlson suggested that any discussion of legislative initiatives and prospects await the election.   


There being no further business, the regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was adjourned at 8:45 p.m. 

Respectfully submitted, 
Sherry Davis White