Skip to main content

March 11, 2021 Board Meeting Minutes

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

 

March 11, 2021

 

CALL TO ORDER

The regular meeting of the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District was called to order by President Sherry White at 7:03 p.m. on March 11, 2021.  President White noted that this meeting was convened electronically through WebEx, pursuant to Minnesota Statutes 13D.021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and her determination that it is not prudent for the Board of Managers, or any committee thereof, to meet in person, and it is not feasible to provide for any member of the Board, or of the public, to meet at the regular meeting location.  For this reason, until this determination is withdrawn by the District’s presiding officer, chief legal counsel or chief administrative officer, the meetings of the Board and its committees will be convened by telephone or other electronic means as the presiding officer determines appropriate.  All such meetings will be noticed and conducted in accordance with §13D.021 and all other applicable terms of the Open Meeting Law.  President White noted that, pursuant to §13D.021, all votes will be by roll call.

President White called the roll to note attendance:

Hejmadi:         Present

Loftus:            Present

Sando:             Present

Miller:              Present

Olson:              Present

Maxwell:         Present

White:             Present

DISTRICT STAFF AND CONSULTANTS PRESENT

James Wisker, Administrator; Erin Manlick, Permitting Assistant; Laura Domyancich-Lee, Planner-Project Manager; Becky Christopher, Policy Planning Manager; Brian Beck, Research and Monitoring Program Manager; Chris Meehan, Consulting Engineer; and Louis Smith, District Counsel.

OATH OF OFFICE

Mr. Smith administered the oath of office to newly appointed Manager Steve Sando and reappointed Manager Sherry Davis White. 

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

None.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

President White noted the staff request to add Item 13.1 to the Discussion agenda, Climate Adaptation and Watershed Model Update.  It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Olson to approve the Agenda as distributed with this addition.  Upon roll call vote, the motion carried 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:            Aye

Sando:             Aye

Miller:              Aye

Olson:              Aye

Maxwell:         Aye

White:             Aye

CONSENT AGENDA

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Hejmadi, to approve the Consent Agenda consisting of approval of the February 25, 2021 Board minutes; and the following resolutions:

Resolution 21-017: Authorization to renew Metro Watershed Partners membership

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorize the District Administrator to spend $6,000 to renew MCWD’s Metro Watershed Partners annual membership.

Resolution 21-018: Acceptance of Tort Liability Limits on the District P&C Insurance Policy Renewal

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers accepts the statutory tort liability limits as set out in Minnesota Statute 466.04 and authorizes the Administrator to advise the LMCIT accordingly.

Resolution 21-019: Authorization for Long Lake Creek Subwatershed Watershed Assessment Contract Scope Adjustment and Extension

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers authorizes the District Administrator, on advice of counsel, to execute an amendment incorporating additional work

into the Long Lake Creek Subwatershed Nutrient Assessment and increasing the not-to-exceed to $61,000.

Upon roll call vote, the motion carried, 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:            Aye

Sando:             Aye

Miller:              Aye

Olson:              Aye

Maxwell:         Aye                                    

White:             Aye

BOARD, COMMITTEE AND TASK FORCE REPORTS

President’s Report:  President White expressed her appreciation for the Hennepin County Board’s recent appointments and noted that it reflected an affirmation of the work of the District.  She noted that two more commissioner briefings are planned with Commissioners Conley and Fernando. 

Operations and Programs Committee Report:  Manager Loftus reported that the committee met earlier and received a staff review of active responsive model opportunities, which includes four potential opportunities under consideration.  The committee also received an update from staff on Phase 1 of the organizational assessment of the Citizens Advisory Committee.  Much more work on this assessment will be reported in the months to come.

Citizens Advisory Committee Report;  Manager Maxwell reported that he attended the recent CAC meeting on March 3, which focused on the extensive staff briefing on climate adaptation which is later on this meeting’s agenda.

Upcoming Meeting and Event Schedule:  President White directed the managers to the meetings listed on the agenda; all of the meetings to be noticed and held via WebEx.  She noted that Manager Miller would be the Board liaison to the Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on April 14.

PERMITS REQUIRING A VARIANCE OR DISCUSSION

Permit 21-065: Target Knollwood, 8900 Hwy 7, St. Louis Park

Ms. Erin Manlick appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the permit report, noting that Target is seeking a permit for the replacement of a portion of Boone Avenue, a private road adjacent to the Target store parking lot.  She noted that the applicant is requesting a variance from the wetland buffer requirement and reviewed the application in terms of compliance with the floodplain alteration, waterbody crossings and stormwater management rules. She noted that the application proposes to exceed the MCWD stormwater management requirements by providing excess stormwater volume abstraction. She explained that the MCWD has responsibility for the Wetland Conservation Act in St. Louis Park and staff recommends approval of Target’s request for a de minimus exemption and no-loss determination.  Ms. Manlick reviewed the request for a variance from the wetland buffer requirement, including site constraints due to the proximity of the road to the delineated wetland boundary.  The applicant proposes a 40-foot buffer on the northern and southern boundaries, and the overall result is a buffer area deficit of 3,482 square feet.  She reviewed the requested board actions to approve the WCA de minimus exemption and no-loss determination; grant the variance; and approve the permit with conditions. 

It was moved by Manager Olson, seconded by Manager Maxwell to approve the Wetland Conservation Act de minimus exemption and no-loss determination as recommended by staff.  Manager Miller commented that the entire site was once a wetland and had been filled before enactment of the Wetland Conservation Act.  He noted past conversations with Target about potential opportunities at the site.  Manager Olson stated that he appreciated that the application is addressing a complex problem and that staff has done good work with these issues.

Upon roll call vote, the motion carried, 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:            Aye

Sando:             Aye

Miller:              Aye

Olson:              Aye

Maxwell:         Aye                                    

White:             Aye

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Hejmadi to grant the requested variance from the Wetland Protection Rule based on the reasons set forth in the staff report.

Upon roll call vote, the motion carried, 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:            Aye

Sando:             Aye

Miller:              Aye

Olson:              Aye

Maxwell:         Aye                                    

White:             Aye

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Hejmadi to approve the permit application with the conditions set forth in the staff report. 

Upon roll call vote, the motion carried, 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:            Aye

Sando:             Aye

Miller:              Aye

Olson:              Aye

Maxwell:         Aye                                    

White:             Aye

ACTION ITEMS

Resolution 21-020: Authorization to Release the Request for Proposals for Six Mile Marsh Prairie Trail and Interpretation Design

Ms. Laura Domyancich-Lee appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the request for board action.  She reviewed the history of the Six Mile Marsh Prairie restoration and planning for the trail and interpretation. 

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Maxwell to adopt Resolution 21-020 as follows:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District Board of Managers hereby authorizes the release of the request for proposals for design services for Six Mile Marsh Prairie trail and interpretation and allows the Administrator to make non-substantive edits to the document and schedule based on advice of MCWD legal counsel.  

Upon a question from Manager Sando, Ms. Domyancich-Lee reviewed the trail point of access to the Dakota Rail Regional Trail. 

Upon roll call vote, the motion carried, 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:            Aye

Sando:             Aye

Miller:              Aye

Olson:              Aye

Maxwell:         Aye                                    

White:             Aye

BOARD DISCUSSION ITEMS

Climate Adaptation and Watershed Model Update

Ms. Becky Christopher and Mr. Brian Beck appeared before the Board of Managers and provided an update on the MCWD’s planning efforts concerning climate adaptation and improved watershed modeling.  Ms. Christopher reviewed the process of engaging with the CAC to explore the MCWD’s potential role and contributions of value in adapting to climate change.  She reviewed the MCWD’s emphasis on climate science, a careful review of governance and roles among state, regional and local governments; and consideration of the MCWD’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  She noted that the primary insights include focusing on adaptation rather than mitigation; taking a data-driven approach; enhancing the MCWD’s data analysis capacity; develop a systems understanding; and build a coalition of willing partners.  Staff is developing a three-part framework to approach this work across three areas:  understand and predict; communicate, convene and plan; and implement, measure and adapt.

Mr. Beck reviewed the MCWD work in the “understand and predict” area, which include work on the Real Time Sensor Network (RESNET), development of a machine learning model using real time data, and creation of a two-dimensional model integrating regional landscape data and municipal infrastructure to create a high resolution planning tool. 

Manager Miller reflected on his observation of rising water levels in wetlands and expressed his appreciation that the staff’s approach is for the MCWD to keep within its lane.  Upon a question from Manager Maxwell, Ms. Christopher and Mr. Wisker explained the MCWD’s effort to engage cities as partners through developing the data, modeling, and analytic capacity that will provide value to partners.  Manager Loftus noted that she appreciated learning about climate change through this local lens and felt that it would be important not to duplicate the efforts of other agencies.  Manager Hejmadi expressed his congratulations to the staff for excellent work.  Upon a question from Manager Hejmadi, Ms. Christopher reviewed the composition of the technical advisory committee.  Upon a question and comment from Mr. Smith, Ms. Christopher and Mr. Wisker noted that watershed activities can make contributions to soil health and carbon sequestration, thereby mitigating impacts of climate change.  Such activities could potentially be a part of the planning and communications, though the staff envisions the primary role for the MCWD to be adaptation. 

Upon a question from President White, Ms. Christopher noted that these issues do not necessarily portend substantive changes in the MCWD rules, but the MCWD will continue to learning from this work and adapt as warranted.  Manager Miller referred back to the discussion of soil health and mitigation, and Mr. Wisker noted that soil health is another lens through which to consider the MCWD’s work concerning climate change, though the MCWD’s mission and expertise with hydrology indicates that adaptation is the key role for the District.  The managers thanked the staff for this briefing and discussion.

STAFF UPDATES

Administrator’s Report

Mr. Wisker reported on the following items: 

 - Sadly, former Manager Pam Blixt passed away recently.  She served on the Board of Managers for 24 years, many as President, and also served on the Clean Water Council.  The MCWD will communicate its sympathies to the Blixt family;

 - Construction on the Auburn Lake carp barrier has begun and should be completed within the coming week;

 - Listening sessions are planning for the 325 Blake Road project, including a session with the Hopkins City Council on March 16, and a public session on March 25.  A video and survey are posted on the MCWD web site; and

 - Water levels are now seeing the impact of Spring melting.  Lake Minnetonka remains below 928.6 and the dam is still closed.  The Nokomis weir was open all winter but is now closed.

Adjournment

There being no further business, President White declared the meeting of the Board of Managers adjourned at 9:07 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Eugene Maxwell, Secretary Pro Tem

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers