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May 14, 2020 Board Minutes

MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF

THE MINNEHAHA CREEK WATERSHED DISTRICT

BOARD OF MANAGERS

May 14, 2020

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 May 14, 2020.  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  For this reason, until this determination is withdrawn by the District’s presiding officer, chief legal counsel or chief administrative officer, the meetings of the Board and its committees will be convened by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, joining later as noted below

Loftus:             Present

Rogness:         Present

Miller:             Present

Olson:             Present

Maxwell:         Present

White:             Present

DISTRICT STAFF AND CONSULTANTS PRESENT

James Wisker, Administrator; Heidi Quinn, Permitting Technician; Chris Meehan, Consulting Engineer; and Louis Smith, District Counsel.

MATTERS FROM THE FLOOR

None.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

It was moved by Manager Rogness, seconded by Manager Olson to approve the Agenda as distributed.  Upon roll call vote, the motion carried 6-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Absent

Loftus:             Aye

Rogness:         Aye

Miller:             Aye

Olson:             Aye

Maxwell:         Aye

White:             Aye

CONSENT AGENDA

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Maxwell, to approve  the Consent Agenda consisting of approval of the April 23, 2020 Board minutes. 

Upon roll call vote, the motion carried, 6-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Absent

Loftus:             Aye

Rogness:         Aye

Miller:             Aye

Olson:             Aye

Maxwell:         Aye                                    

White:             Aye

BOARD, COMMITTEE AND TASK FORCE REPORTS

President’s Report:  President White noted that the Citizens Advisory Committee has had one work group meeting focused on volunteer engagement, and will have recommendations to the Board in the near future.  A second work group will be meeting later this month to work on climate adaptation issues. 

Operations and Programs Committee Report:   Manager Loftus reported that the Committee received a presentation from Mr. Wisker on the analysis of staffing needs for the District to inform the 2021 budget process. 

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. 

ACTION ITEMS

Permit 20-030: Crown College Ball Fields, Laketown Township

Ms. Heidi Quinn appeared before the Board of Managers and reviewed the request for board action.  She presented an overview of the site and noted that the application is before the Board of Managers because of the applicant’s request for a variance from the wetland buffer rule.  She reviewed the stormwater management plan; based on the amount of impervious increase proposed in light of the site history, the applicant is required here to treat the increase in imperviousness.  Two filtration basins will provide for treatment.  The wetland buffer requirement is triggered by the application of the stormwater rule; wetlands A and B on the site are classified as Preserve wetlands and so require a 75 foot buffer.  Ms. Quinn noted that the proposed project exceeds to the total area of buffer required, but misses the minimum buffer in three locations, amounting to about 3% of the total buffer. 

Ms. Quinn reviewed the criteria for granting a variance.  She noted that site conditions, range of alternatives considered by the applicant, and the purposes of the buffer requirement, to provide water quality treatment and habitat.  Ms. Quinn noted that the total area of proposed buffer exceeds the requirement, and the excess may be considered to compensate for loss of habitat where the buffer minimum is missed.  She explained that the filtration basins are designed to provide treatment capacity in excess of the rule requirement, and thereby may be considered to compensate for the loss of water quality treatment.  She stated that staff and the engineer have concluded that there is adequate evidence in the record of the application to support the granting of the requested variance.

President White noted the presence of Mr. Roth and Mr. Woodruff in the audience, who are representatives of the applicant Crown College.  They stated that they had no comments to offer.

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Olson, to grant the requested variance based on the findings that the criteria for a variance are met and supported by the staff analysis and record in the staff report.  Upon a question from Manager Olson, Ms. Quinn and Mr. Meehan explained that the two culverts in the causeway over the drainage ditch are at different elevations by design to manage stormwater flow and that the District’s nearby carp barrier will not be impacted. 

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

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:             Aye

Rogness:         Aye

Miller:             Aye

Olson:             Aye

Maxwell:         Aye

White:             Aye

It was moved by Manager Miller, seconded by Manager Rogness to approve the permit application with the conditions recommended by staff in the staff permit report. Upon a question from Manager Maxwell, Ms. Quinn confirmed that the applicant had performed soil tests over the years with the various permit applications for work on the campus.  Upon roll call vote, the motion to approve the permit application with the staff recommendations carried, 7-0 as follows:

Hejmadi:         Aye

Loftus:             Aye

Rogness:         Aye

Miller:             Aye

Olson:             Aye

Maxwell:         Aye

White:             Aye

STAFF UPDATES

Administrator’s Report

Mr. Wisker reported on the following items:

Project updates:

Minnehaha Preserve Boardwalk: most recent repairs were completed on May 12, involving replacement of about 150 deck and rail boards, with oversight by legal counsel and District consulting engineer Wenck.  There will be an update on legal developments at the May 28 meeting.

325 Blake Road Redevelopment: staff has received a draft outline of the development process from Hopkins.  Continued discussions seek further clarity on the liaison role of council members and managers.

Water levels update: April and May precipitation to date has been below normal, but groundwater levels remain high.  Lake Minnetonka is currently at 929.24, below the Ordinary High Water mark, and the flow at Grays Bay is 20 cfs.  There are still concerns about high water, including at Zumbra Lake, where property owners have recently communicated concerns to agencies.  Staff will be monitoring water levels with upcoming rains in the forecast.

2301 Brunswick, St. Louis Park: additional information from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is under review and staff will provide an update at the May 28 or June 11 meeting.

Minnehaha Creek Parkway master plan process: the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board provided a draft for staff review.  Ms. Tiffany Schaufler will present an update to the Policy and Planning Committee in June.

Wasserman Lake Preserve:  construction is underway with tree removal and mass grading at the site.

Arden Park:  final site work is being completed.

The Citizens Advisory Committee is holding work group meetings as presented earlier in President White’s report.  The CAC work group on climate adaptation is reviewing the scan of best practices prepared for the Board Retreat last year

Cedar Lake water quality:  staff members have been in communication with staff from the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board concerning algae and bacteria at Cedar Lake and will be learning results from water sampling.

COVID-19 related work management: pursuant to the Governor’s orders and board resolutions, the staff continue to work safely from home.  There is no rush to re-open the office, and there have been no concerns about accessibility to the District staff expressed from the public.  New field monitoring work will commence soon; construction projects continue; land management programs continue.  A plan for eventual re-opening of the office is being prepared based on the template provided by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. 

Manager Maxwell stated that he felt there should be no rush to re-open the office.  Manager Hejmadi agreed, stating that it is better to take a cautious approach.  At the same time, he said, the crisis provides both danger and opportunity.  A dark winter may be ahead, but we are also learning much from reducing our environmental footprint.  Mr. Wisker noted that there are many aspects of the crisis with long term strategic implications.  For example, the District’s stakeholder engagement process has stressed a focus on interpersonal, face-to-face relationships.  The District will need to adapt with expertise in a new approach using powerpoints and electronic communication.  The pandemic crisis is also having economic impacts, including the market considerations for projects like the redevelopment of 325 Blake Road, or even opportunities for other conservation land acquisition. 

Adjournment

There being no further business, President White declared the meeting of the Board of Managers adjourned at 7:52 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kurt Rogness, Secretary

 

Minutes Type: 
Board of Managers