Minutes - April 1, 2010

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

April 1, 2010

CALL TO ORDER

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Jim Calkins at 6:59 p.m. at the District offices, 18202 Minnetonka Boulevard, Deephaven, Minnesota. 

MANAGERS PRESENT

James Calkins, Brian Shekleton, Lee Keeley, Pam Blixt, Jeff Casale, Mike Klingelhutz.

MANAGER ABSENT

Richard Miller.

OTHERS PRESENT

Eric Evenson, District Administrator; Mark Ten Eyck, District Land Conservation Program Manager; Ellen Heine, District Land Conservation Specialist; James Wisker, District Planner; Michael Panzer, District Consulting Engineer; Louis Smith, District Counsel.

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

None.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

Mr. Evenson recommended deleting Item 11.2, as the Metropolitan Council staff indicated they would not appear for the presentation on land use planning.  President Calkins requested that this item be kept on the agenda for Board discussion.  Mr. Evenson requested that an update on a meeting with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and other parties for the Minnehaha Glen project be added as Item 8.3.  It was moved by Manager Keeley, seconded by Manager Casale to approve the agenda with this change.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

CONSENT AGENDA

It was moved by Manager Casale, seconded by Manager Klingelhutz to approve the items on the Consent Agenda, including the minutes of March 18, 2010.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

REGULAR AGENDA

Committees and Task Force Reports

Citizens’ Advisory Committee

Manager Keeley reported attending the recent Citizens’ Advisory Committee, where the Committee elected officers and heard a presentation on the District’s capital improvement program. 

Manager Shekleton arrived at this point of the meeting (7:05 p.m).

Information Technology Committee

Manager Shekleton reported that the Information Technology Committee met on March 30 to receive an update on the development of Sharepoint; mail merger and database leverage; the possibility of a T-1 line and phone system review; and a staff inventory of the District website issues.

Property Search Consultant Task Force

Manager Casale reported that the Task Force met on March 29 and interviewed firms; the Task Force will recommend a firm for selection to be considered at the meeting of April 8.  Manager Casale also stated that he felt that the Blake Road area in Hopkins would be an appropriate first scope of work for this consultant

Minnehaha Glen Project Meeting

Mr. Evenson reported on a meeting convened by Senator Patricia Torres Ray, along with Representatives of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, the Army Corp of Engineers, Congressman Keith Ellison’s office, Representative Jean Wagenius.  The purpose of the meeting was to review issues with the pending project as well as permitting and historic resource review.  Following that meeting, District and Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board staff developed an approach to resolving outstanding issues that would involve amending the Cooperative Agreement.  These proposed changes will be brought to the Board of Managers at the meeting of April 8.  Mr. Evenson mentioned that the proposal will likely involve the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board taking over responsibility for work on the vegetation and the development of an alternative design and construction of overlook areas instead of the upper trail.

Mr. Evenson also reported on meeting with Joel Settles of Hennepin County to discuss groundwater planning, and representatives of the Department of Natural Resources to consider inspection options to address invasive species on watershed lakes.

Public Hearing:  2009 NPDES/Annual Report to Board of Water and Soil Resources

President Calkins convened the public hearing on the annual report of the District activities and report to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for the NPDES program.  Mr. Evenson provided an overview of the report and noted that no comments had been received to date.  Manager Blixt asked about the status of water quality and TMDL activities.  Mr. Evenson noted that the Nine Lakes TMDL is nearing completion and currently under review by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  There were no persons present wishing to comment on the report at the public hearing.  Manager Calkins closed the public hearing.  It was moved by Manager Klingelhutz, seconded by Manager Shekleton to accept the report and authorize staff to distribute the report as required.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

Board Liaisons

Manager Shekleton distributed a handout with proposed liaison relationships for Board members.  He noted the absence of Manager Miller and stated that he would prefer all managers be present for more input and discussion of these proposed liaison relationships.  Manager Blixt stated that she felt such an arrangement would merit review annually by the Board, and that liaison relationships should focus on areas with District projects.  Manager Calkins noted that some municipalities were not on this list and should be considered for inclusion.  Manager Calkins noted that he would be absent on April 15, but would be comfortable with the Board of Manages discussing this matter upon the return of Manager Miller.  

Metropolitan Council Land Use Planning

Mr. Evenson noted that he had received an email in the late morning advising that the Met Council representatives would not attend this evening’s meeting.  Manager Calkins stated that it was important to hear from the Metropolitan Council in a timely matter on these issues.  He also requested that staff seek to obtain relevant correspondence exchange between the Metropolitan Council and cities in the District on these issues. 

Woodland Cove:  Natural Resource Inventory (City of Minnetrista)

Mr. Mark Ten Eyck appeared before the Board of Managers and introduced Mr. Tony DeMars with Cross River Consulting.  Mr. DeMars reviewed the process for developing the draft natural resources evaluation for the Woodland Cove Development.  He noted that next steps following completion of the natural resources assessment would be to develop a regulatory program gap analysis and a conservation development framework.  Mr. DeMars noted that he had developed a list of key issues and a regulatory program matrix to review with City staff, and this process would lead to development of the gap analysis.  Mr. Ten Eyck also noted the presence of Ms. Brianne Rothstein, Planner with the City of Minnetrista who would also be present to answer any questions.  

Manager Shekleton stated that his initial reaction was that the proposed development would mean the loss of natural resources which the District’s role is to protect.  He stated that he could not see how the proposed development would work economically, and was concerned with the requirements imposed upon the City of Minnetrista by the Metropolitan Council, which made natural resources protection more difficult.

Manager Casale noted that the Metropolitan Council density requirements were the key issue regarding the development’s design.  He stated that he would prefer that the gaps analysis not be performed and that instead the District wait to see the developer’s stormwater and natural resource preservation plans, then the District could work with the developer to creatively enhance those plans through it Land Conservation and Low Inpact Development programs.  Manager Casale stated that he believed that the density requirements here were a reality because of the Met Council’s Comprehensive Plan agreement with Minnetrista.  However, since the District does not have a copy of that Agreement, he asked that  legal counsel obtain a copy of it and provide a legal opinion to guide the District in this or any other development within Minnetrista.

Mr. Ten Eyck stated that the gaps analysis would be approached in the spirit of cooperation with both the City of Minnetrista and representatives of the developer, all based on information generated by the City stakeholder process.  He noted that the gaps analysis was requested by the Board of Managers and would also be a statement of the application of District rules to the proposed development.  The land conservation program consideration of additional conservation efforts at this site would be the product of a collaborative discussion.

Manager Casale stated that he was concerned with language in the natural resources evaluation that suggested that wetlands may be reclassified for the purpose of enlarging buffers.  Mr. Smith explained that the function and value assessment of wetlands is always updated by developers and permit applicants with site specific information.  Mr. Smith also stated that the gap analysis was essential for the District to be able to consider what conservation benefits are achieved by regulation, compared to other benefits that could be obtained through the land conservation program options. 

Manager Casale stated that his concerns regarding the report had to do with its tone.  He noted as an example that where the report suggested the District develop an “alternative development plan”, it would be more appropriate for it to state that the District would work with the developer to “enhance” the developer’s plan.  Manager Shekleton stated that he wanted to see how to address the conflict between the density requirement of the Metropolitan Council and the District’s natural resource protection mission.  He again requested guidance from legal counsel on this issue. 

Manager Blixt stated that she felt the tone of the natural resources evaluation report was appropriate.  At the request of Manager Blixt, Mr. James Wisker explained that the function and value assessment and classification of wetland on the site needed to be updated because the District’s assessment did not take into consideration the smaller wetlands on the site and those are the wetlands that need to be reclassified. 

Manager Klingelhutz stated that he was not interested in pursuing alternative development scenarios.  Mr. Ten Eyck explained that the purpose of the development framework is to explore the possibility of an appropriate role for the District in land conservation alternatives.  Mr. Ten Eyck underscored that this was only a possibility that the Board of Managers had requested to be evaluated.  Manager Klingelhutz stated that he was comfortable with the concept of “enhancements” but not creating alternative development scenarios, which seemed more confrontational with the developer.  Mr. Ten Eyck stated that the language suggestions were helpful and that the key is to promote a cooperative approach. 

Manager Calkins stated that he agreed with the importance of the gap analysis and felt that the tone in the natural resources evaluation was fine.  He asked Mr. Ten Eyck about the proposed timetable for next steps.  Mr. Ten Eyck explained that the next steps would be to be in communication with the City staff, to proceed to complete the gap analysis and then based on that analysis to explore the potential enhancements that could be pursued in a cooperative and creative manner.  Ms. Rothstein stated that the developer is planning to submit a preliminary plat in mid-summer.  Following discussion, it was moved by Manager Blixt, seconded by Manager Keeley to direct the staff to proceed with the gap analysis.  Manager Casale stated that he agreed with the proposed course of action, but also felt it was important to be sensitive to the tone of these discussions.  He further stated that he felt legal counsel should evaluate the issues between the Met Council and the City as they impact the District’s objectives.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

Manager Calkins noted the concern with erosion in the gullies at the Woodland Cove site and asked Mr. Panzer if there would be any merit to a prompt action for restoration, even if this were to be voluntary.  Mr. Panzer stated that he could explore possible suggestions to address this issue.  

Conservation Corridor Partnership Presentation=

Mr. Smith presented work on the concept of developing public private partnerships in conservation corridors.  Following the presentation, Manager Shekleton noted that partnerships can achieve great results but they require hard work.  Manger Klingelhutz stated that he felt that the key to success would be identifying appropriate private partners and the in strategic interests.  Manager Blixt stated that the partnership approach was important because it is not possible to achieve all of the District’s goals through capital improvement projects and regulation.

Manager Keeley stated that she felt that long term perspective is key to success in these partnerships.  She also noted that there is merit to the concept that trails may encounter initial opposition in planning stages, but upon construction are often quite popular. 

Mr. Evenson noted that the District has a strong foundation to build on partnerships and that his recommended approach for next steps would be to enlist this partnership model for key segments of the creek corridor. 

Hopkins Corridor Planning Update

Mr. James Wisker appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the ongoing discussions with the City of Hopkins concerning the Minnehaha Creek corridor near Blake Road.  He stated that pursuant to the direction of the Board of Managers, the District is developing an option agreement with the owner of the apartment buildings in the Northeast quadrant of Blake Road and Lake Street.  Mr. Smith provided an update on the status of developing that option agreement, and noted that the outline of such an agreement would be presented to the Hopkins City Council on April 6.  The City has also communicated a request that the District pay for any relocation and demolition costs involved in this project.  Manager Casale stated that he felt it was important for the District’s new property acquisition consultant to be available for the April 6 council meeting.  It was moved by Manager Casale, seconded by Manager Keeley to authorize staff to obtain these services for the April 6 meeting.  Mr. Evenson stated that there may be alternative concepts to explore with the City and that the consultant would be useful in this regard.  Upon vote, the motion carried.

Samaritan Tire Property

Ms. Ellen Heine appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed potential conservation interest in the Samaritan Tire Property.  Mr. Evenson noted that the next appropriate step would be to obtain an appraisal.  The Board of Managers authorized staff to obtain that appraisal and also to explore potential trade concepts with MnDOT and other neighboring parcel owners.

New Business

Manager Casale stated that he was concerned with particular language in the proposed amendments to the Shoreline Improvement Rule, noting that in his review of the recent distribution of the latest proposed Shoreline Rule language and summary documents that he noticed a discrepancy between the two.  He pointed out that the written communications stated that maintenance of existing riprap did not trigger natural vegetation stabilization requirements, but that a portion of the original proposed language remained, which “requires” rather than “encourages” the use of vegetative shoreline stabilization techniques during riprap maintenance.  He requested that the Board reconcile the language of the rule to reflect the published communications or that those communication documents be revised to accurately reflect the actual rule language and then redistribute the communication documents.  Manager Calkins recommended that this issue be addressed in the process of reviewing comments to the proposed rules amendments. Manager Casale requested that it be addressed in a timely manner and not wait until the public hearing.  Manager Blixt noted the late hour and asked that staff provide the Board with the relevant documents at an upcoming Board meeting.

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, the meeting of the Board of Managers adjourned at 11:24 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Lee Keeley, Secretary