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June 13, 2019 Board Minutes

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

 

June 13, 2019

 

CALL TO ORDER

 

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers was called to order by President Sherry White at 7:00 p.m. at the District office, 15320 Minnetonka Boulevard, Minnetonka, Minnesota.

MANAGERS PRESENT

Sherry White, William Olson, Richard Miller, Kurt Rogness, Jessica Loftus, Arun Hejmadi.

MANAGERS ABSENT

Eugene Maxwell (designate).

 

DISTRICT STAFF AND CONSULTANTS PRESENT

 

James Wisker, Administrator; Cathy Reynolds, Operations Manager; Telly Mamayek, Communications and Education Manager; Mike Hayman, Project Planning Manager; Tom Dietrich, Permitting Program Manager; Heidi Quinn, Permitting Technician; Erin Manlick, Permitting Assistant; Todd Shoemaker, District Consulting Engineer; Chuck Holtman, District Counsel. 

 

HENNEPIN COUNTY REPORT

 

Hennepin County Commissioner Jan Callison gave a brief presentation to the Board on County initiatives and trends.  She presented the County recycling report and excerpts from the 2019 assessment report indicating general and local property value trends.  She noted that the Board of Commissioners held a public hearing yesterday on a proposal to raise the age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21.  The ordinance would operate only in a part of the County due to jurisdictional limitations.  The County is seeing positive trends in child protection and more investment in affordable housing.  The legislative session did not measurably change funding to Hennepin County.

 

The managers thanked Commissioner Callison.

 

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

 

Gabriel Jabbour, Orono, expressed his appreciation for the Board and particularly for staff as concerns recent Gray’s Bay dam management.  He emphasized that he and others on the lake do not think of lake interests as elevated over creek interests; District staff has done an excellent job in balancing the lake and creek needs.  The District’s communications effort has been excellent, and staff have been communicative, respectful and responsive.  Mr. Jabbour added that he, and those who joined his sentiments, appreciate having had their ideas and help considered and accepted.  He was joined by Richie Anderson, North Shore Marina, who concurred in Mr. Jabbour’s comments.  President White added that the Board too is very happy with staff’s work in this area.  Manager Loftus reciprocated that staff has expressed appreciation, as well, for Mr. Jabbour as a resource. 

 

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

 

Manager Miller moved, Manager Olson seconded, to approve the agenda with a switch of agenda items 10.1 and 10.2.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.

 

CONSENT AGENDA

 

Manager Miller moved, Manager Rogness seconded, to approve the Consent Agenda, consisting of the minutes of the May 23, 2019 Board meeting.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0. 

 

REGULAR AGENDA

 

Board, Committee and Task Force Reports

 

President’s Report:  President White reported that Manager Hejmadi had his last on-boarding session on June 5.  She and Manager Rogness attended.  On June 10, she and Manager Hejmadi attended the Hennepin Watershed Partners meeting on the topic of climate resiliency.  District, City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) staff spoke.

 

President White noted the need to designate additional liaison roles and proposed herself and Manager Hejmadi as liaisons to Minneapolis and the MPRB; Manager Miller to join President White and Manager Loftus as strategic communications liaisons; and Manager Hejmadi to serve as a website development liaison.  Manager Miller moved, Manager Olson seconded, to approve the proposed liaison designations.  Upon vote, the motion carried, 6-0.

 

Citizens’ Advisory Committee:  President White reported that the CAC agenda included members meeting Manager Hejmadi.  There was discussion of the 2020 budget; the CAC will provide its comments to the Board by July 11.

 

Manager Olson will attend the July 17 CAC meeting.

 

Operations and Programs Committee Report: Manager Loftus reported that the O&PC met today.  Brian Beck and staff presented the history of the District’s aquatic invasive species management program and future programming and budgeting were discussed, as was the shift to an ecologic management framework.

 

President White directed the Board to the upcoming meetings and events listed in the agenda. 

 

Permit 19-110: The Blake School, Hopkins

 

Ms. Manlick presented the staff permit report.  She began by distributing an email that an adjoining property owner, Karen Lundholm, transmitted to staff today, and which Ms. Manlick earlier had forwarded to managers.

 

Ms. Manlick reviewed the proposed building addition and parking lot reconstruction on the Blake School campus in Hopkins.  It is the fifth phase of campus improvements permitted by the District since 2015.  Ms. Lundholm requested that the permit come before the managers for consideration.  Ms. Manlick reviewed the applicable rules and the finding of the District engineer that the proposal meets District stormwater volume management and rate control standards.  There is no wetland disturbance, however one downgradient wetland will be subject to a vegetated buffer on that portion that will receive runoff from new hard surface.  The buffer will be subject to a recorded declaration to protect it in perpetuity.  Stormwater will be managed by two new underground infiltration basins, an existing infiltration basin and an existing pond.

 

Ms. Quinn added that the District has tracked the prior site work as “connected actions” under the rules.  The cumulative impact remains under the rule threshold so the present permit requires only that new and reconstructed hard surface be treated.

 

Ms. Quinn also described the permit review process, specifically concerning Ms. Lundholm’s concern as to increased flows into the wetland, which lies in part on her property.  The wetland, classified as a Manage 2, has a bounce and period of inundation allowance under the rules, which the original plan met.  However, with Ms. Lundholm’s comments and the fact of other property owners sharing the wetland, the applicant redesigned to redirect a part of the stormwater.  As a result, the rate and volume of stormwater to the wetland in fact will decrease over present.

 

Ms. Manlick summarized and recommended approval with the conditions recommended in the report.

 

Manager Miller moved, Manager Olson seconded, to approve the permit with staff-recommended conditions.  Manager Olson asked how the redirected water is being conveyed to the other stormwater practices.  Ms. Quinn replied that the applicant will install piping for that purpose.  Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Manager Miller observed that Ms. Lundholm was present and wished to speak.  Manager Miller moved, Manager Rogness seconded, to reconsider the motion just acted on.  Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

Ms. Lundholm, 309 Arthur Street, Hopkins, asked whether the managers had received her email and had a chance to review it.  The managers generally affirmed that they had.  Ms. Lundholm expressed her objection to a permit approval action tonight.  She would like an accurate survey of the wetland boundary.  In her view, the applicant is creating a holding pond on her property.  She said that she only learned on May 16 that her property is involved.  She would like a continuance until the issues are resolved.  She believes that the applicant has alternatives to directing the stormwater from the new hard surface into the wetland.

 

Dan Kelly, Chief Financial Operations Officer for the applicant, expressed his respect for Ms. Lundholm.  He said the relationship extends into the past, and the applicant takes her comments and its relations with its neighbors seriously.  He emphasized that the rate and volume of runoff will decrease from the present condition, and said that the applicant’s engineer specifically advised not to redirect any additional portion of the runoff, in order to protect the hydrologic supply to the wetland.

 

President White called the question.  Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Permit 11-140F: Woodland Cove Lake 3rd Addition, Minnetrista

 

Mr. Dietrich reviewed the proposed development of a 40-lot subdivision addition within the Woodland Cove development.  The present proposal is the sixth phase of the buildout on 490 acres on the southwest side of Halsted Bay.  Each phase is reviewed and permitted separately under the umbrella of permit 11-140, with details reviewed for conformance to the standards established under that permit, specifically standards of volume management, peak flow control, water quality and downstream impacts.  The last of these explicitly includes the effect on bounce and inundation period of the receiving water.  In this case, an amendment is requested because the proposed plan would increase the single-event volume (SEV) leaving the site under relevant precipitation events, which is used to calculate bounce and inundation period.

 

The reason for the amendment is that under permit 11-140, this phase was to use an infiltration basin for volume management.  However, infiltration basins constructed for earlier phases have performed poorly, leading to additional geotechnical investigation in the area of the proposed basin here.  This work indicates clay-till soils and seasonally high groundwater, leading the applicant and the District engineer to conclude that an infiltration basin in the proposed location likely would perform poorly as well.  Mr. Dietrich noted that methods of soils evaluation in 2011 were less revealing and groundwater elevation likely has risen in this location over time.  As a result, the applicant has proposed an irrigation re-use system.  The basin will serve as a reservoir and stormwater will be piped and applied to green space within the development.

 

Mr. Dietrich reviewed the quantities of volume abstraction and peak flow under permit 11-140, under the current rules, and as proposed.  The review shows that the proposed plan achieves better results for these parameters than either the earlier proposal or the current rules standards.  If the abstraction standard is met, then the water quality standard is met as well.  The SEV will increase, but there will be no impact on bounce or period of inundation because the receiving water is Lake Minnetonka.

 

Mr. Dietrich recommended approval with the conditions stated in the staff report.

 

Manager Rogness moved, Manager Miller seconded, to approve the permit with staff-recommended conditions.  Replying to Manager Loftus, Mr. Dietrich advised that the volume added to the lake from the development is not measurable and meets the rule standards.  Manager White asked if the applicant’s original design exceeded the rule standard as a trade-off that the District now would be sacrificing.  Mr. Dietrich replied that a rule change was on the horizon and the applicant was attempting to meet anticipated standards, which it ended up exceeding.  Manager Olson asked about the future development phase that drains toward Stone Lake.  Mr. Dietrich said that the District is looking at each phase individually.  Staff met today with the developer for that phase.

 

President White recognized the applicant’s representative present.  He did not wish to speak.  Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Resolution 19-059: Authorization to Execute Contract for Strategic Communications and Engagement Plan

 

Ms. Mamayek introduced John Himle and reviewed the background, and the project scope and budget, for development of a strategic communications and engagement plan.  The last such plan was prepared in 2013, by Mr. Himle.  An organizational plan is needed to tie existing communications plan elements together.

 

Mr. Mamayek reviewed the 2019 request for proposals process.  The committee reviewed seven proposals and interviewed four finalists.  At the conclusion, the committee decided that none of the proposers had fully assimilated the project goals.  The committee realized that the request for proposals didn’t get precisely at the key for the project, which is external and internal change management.  After consideration, the committee concluded that Mr. Himle is uniquely qualified for the work, and that retaining him would be a sound approach.

 

Ms. Mamayek reviewed the draft goals for the communications program, the key audiences and the project team.  There will be a parallel process of audience and outreach assessment.  The project scope will encompass what the District knows, what it doesn’t know, conclusions, strategic development, and implementation, with an implementation plan to be completed by February 2020.  There are funds in the communications budget for the work and a 10 percent contingency.

 

Mr. Himle reintroduced himself to the board.  He reviewed his past work as a principal in the Himle Horner firm, which continued after Tom Horner separated.  In 2017 he left the firm and formed Himle LLC to work with key clients.  When first asked about the present work, he felt the scope was too large for him to properly accomplish, but then thought to bring Mr. Horner in to collaborate.  Key to their approach is to conduct interviews themselves, for the nuance to be gained.

 

Manager Rogness moved, Manager Miller seconded, adoption of the proposed resolution as follows:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the District Administrator, on advice of counsel and with any non-material changes, to execute the contract with Himle LLC for the Strategic Communications and Engagement Plan in an amount not to exceed $55,000.

 

Manager Hejmadi offered that residents are critical stakeholders, particularly to move toward climate change action.  He asked how Mr. Himle would approach them.  Mr. Himle replied that the plan suggests the website as the chief platform for this constituency, but he expects that interviews will get into the relationship between the District and residents.

 

Manager Miller added that the District’s focus is to have an impact on those who have an impact on the land and waters.  Many in the realm of city staff, engineers and landowners have viewed the District as a nuisance, but its partnership work seeks to change this perspective.

 

Mr. Wisker affirmed that the strategic plan prioritizes communicating the District vision to land development stakeholders, and that the website vendor, with staff and the CAC, will focus on a website strategy.

 

Manager Loftus stated that as a project liaison, she finds aiming at alignment and effectiveness to be exciting.  She appreciates Mr. Himle’s having examined the project scope and helped to refine it.  She supports the contract and the project’s direction.

 

Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Resolution 19-064: Authorization to Distribute Capital Improvement Plan for Annual Review and Comment

 

Mr. Hayman presented the proposed resolution.  The capital improvement program (CIP) is refined based on the District’s watershed management plan, its partnership work, any shifts in priorities and the staff and resources expected to be available.  The District also uses the distribution process to communicate its implementation approach to its public stakeholders and to encourage their engagement through the District’s responsiveness model.

 

Manager Olson moved, Manager Hejmadi seconded, adoption of the proposed resolution as follows:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the MCWD Board of Managers authorizes staff to distribute the Draft CIP for 30 day review and comment.

 

Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

Resolution 19-054: Authorization to Release RFP for Accounting Services

 

Ms. Reynolds reviewed the background and purpose of the solicitation.  In November 2018, the Board took action directing staff to develop a request for proposals (RFP) to separate accounting services from audit services for the benefit of a greater separation and independence.  Staff has developed the proposed RFP for this purpose.

 

Ms. Reynolds reviewed the $85,000 budget for 2019 accounting/audit.  She reviewed audit and accounting expenses already incurred and is hopeful that the accounting transition will keep the year’s spending within budget.  She reviewed the proposed scope of services.  One key is to bring all accounting work under a single monthly accounting fee and move away from charges for additional services, which introduces unpredictability.

 

Manager Loftus moved, President White seconded, adoption of the proposed resolution, as follows:

 

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Board of Managers hereby authorizes staff to release of the request for proposal for accounting services.

 

Manager Miller reminded that at earlier meetings he objected to having a consultant help prepare the budget.  He finds it critical that the budget be program- and policy-driven, not dollar-driven.  He will support the action on the basis that this orientation will be preserved.

 

Manager Loftus supports Manager Miller’s comment.  She would like proposers to present a template for quarterly reports they will supply.  Ms. Reynolds will include that in the RFP and will ensure that the present accountant, Redpath, provides the 2019 2nd-quarter report.  Manager Loftus thanked Ms. Reynolds for her detailed work to develop the RFP.

 

President White asked how many accounting firms specifically have the “watershed district experience” for which the RFP asks.  Ms. Reynolds replied that experience with governmental bodies is the key, and work with watershed districts is a bonus.  President White pointed to the scope item of responding to surveys and information requests, and asked whether the accountant wouldn’t supply the data, with District staff responding to the request.  Ms. Reynolds said that both approaches occur.

 

Upon vote, the motion carried 6-0.

 

STAFF UPDATES

 

Administrator’s Report

 

Mr. Wisker noted the Board retreat scheduled for June 20, 5-9 p.m., at the Minnetonka Regional Park.  He has worked with President White to develop the agenda, which will be distributed on June 17.   District counsel Louis Smith will facilitate, and the leadership team and District engineer will participate as well.  The retreat will be structured as two sessions: current strategic initiatives and emerging issues.  The latter will include, in particular, the question of the District’s posture on climate adaptation.  A state/regional/local scan on that subject will be supplied to the managers before the retreat.  A list of strategic initiatives will be sent tomorrow.

 

Mr. Wisker provided an update on District water levels.  Yesterday the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District terminated its high water declaration.  The lake level today is 929.8 feet ASL.  Staff is gradually reducing the discharge at the dam; lake level is dropping but creek flow still is high: 310 cubic feet per second at Hiawatha Avenue.  Ideally, late next week the lake elevation can be brought to about 929.6 feet.  The MPRB has opened the Nokomis weir.  The level of Lake Nokomis is 816.1 feet.

 

Staff has been in conversation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as to potential adjustments to winter dam operation under evolving precipitation and weather conditions, in order to prepare for spring.  Tiffany Schaufler is working with the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and the U.S. Geological Service state and regional offices to continue to develop coordination for water quantity management.  Ms. Schaufler also met with Hennepin County emergency managers to arrange for County installation of real-time flow sensors at creek crossings.

 

ADJOURNMENT

 

There being no further business, the meeting of the Board of Managers was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

 

Respectfully submitted,

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers