County Board finds little compromise found on road issuesCarlton County Commissioners postponed decisions on the two most contentious issues at Tuesday’s meeting, noting that the Board needed more information on both matters before voting.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
Carlton County Commissioners postponed decisions on the two most contentious issues at Tuesday’s meeting, noting that the Board needed more information on both matters before voting.
The first issue, a proposal recommended by County Highway Engineer Wayne Olson to give County Road 126 to Lakeview and Beseman Townships, was met with vocal opposition from township officials. Olson explained the reasoning behind the proposed transfer has to do with the local – versus the state share – of bridge replacement, which is much lower for townships than counties.
“The local share for townships has been $10,000, which covers engineering and the township’s share of the bridge replacement,” Olson said, recommending the county give the township $10,000 up front to take over responsibility for the road, which has one bridge, which will likely not need to be replaced for up to 20 years.
Doug Suhonen spoke on behalf of Lakeview Township, asking whether the money would have to be set aside for bridge repair or if it could go into the general fund, and wondering how the two townships were both supposed to take over responsibility for the road.
Suhonen also wanted the matter of a beaver dam under a private bridge near C.R. 126 to be taken care of before any “forced” transfer of the road took place.
“Lately there’s been a foot of water on the road due to a beaver dam,” Suhonen told the commission, noting that the private bridge had washed out as a result. “This problem isn’t going away until that bridge is fixed or the beaver is gone.”
County Commissioner Ted Pihlman said he thought the issue had been mostly decided at a previous meeting in the township.
“When we met at the fire hall I thought we pretty much figured it out,” Pihlman said. “I’d like to resolve it in a manner that we all agree on. I don’t want you [township residents] to feel like this is being shoved down your throats, and I don’t want Wayne to feel like he did all that work [as agreed earlier] and now it’s something else.”
County Commissioners voted unanimously to table the issue at least a month, until all the townships’ concerns were clearly identified.
The second issue revolved around a requested cartway (essentially, a public access road to an otherwise land-locked parcel of property). The petition for the cartway comes from Shawn Sunnarborg on behalf of Potlatch Minnesota Timberlands. The cartway would run across a farm owned by Robert and Laura Groth of Holyoke to a parcel currently owned by Potlatch.
There is an existing road there, which Potlatch has used in the past and which Sunnarborg said he assumed was a public road. The company discovered the road was private – it belongs to the Groth family – after negotiating a land sale of the approximately 1,400 acres of property to a company known as Land and Cabins, which plans to divide the property up and resell it as 40-, 60- and 120-acre parcels.
The Groths said they don’t want that many people crossing their dairy farm, and so far there’s been no deal with Potlatch. In a twist, however, the county is looking into purchasing or swapping the Potlatch land for land the county owns inside the Fond du Lac reservation, a proposal that requires working closely with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa as well. The county could then use the Potlatch land for timber management, gravel and a few cabin leases, a proposal Dennis Groth said was more palatable.
It is, however, only a proposal at the moment.
Sunnarborg and Potlatch representative Dave Pritchett both pushed for the board to vote on the cartway, asking at a minimum for a timeline, but commissioners pushed back.
“To me, if we wait another month or another six months, you just have to wait,” Commissioner Dick Brenner said to the two Potlatch employees. “I want to see a total analysis. And now we have another party involved – the reservation – the board should be willing to wait and see what [the Band] is doing.”