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Pipeline Company files amended route proposal

Three members of the Carlton County Land Stewards were in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting of the Carlton County Committee of the Whole. Though they already knew the information that was about to be announced, they wanted to hear it first-hand anyway.

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Planning and Zoning Administrator Heather Cunningham informed commissioners thaton Monday, the North Dakota Pipeline Company LLC (an affiliate of Enbridge) officially submitted a route amendment to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the portion of its Sandpiper Pipeline slated to run through Carlton County.

That came as welcome news to the Land Stewards, since the amended route complies with much of what the county — and the Land Stewards — had asked for.

Cunningham said the company fashioned its amended route proposal utilizing a number of alternate routes, but explained after entering the county from the east the pipeline would basically jog northward along Highway 3 to I-35 and then follow existing utility corridors across the balance of the county. She estimated that only about half a mile of the pipeline route cuts across private land at two separate points.

She told commissioners that the next step will be for the PUC to hold a series of public meetings with each of the counties that stands to be impacted by the pipeline. The meeting in Carlton County is slated for6-9 p.m. on Thursday, March 13,at the Carlton County Transportation Building, 1630 County Road 61, Carlton. The meeting will address the proposed pipeline route as well as environmental impacts of the project. Citizens will have the opportunity to offer oral comments, written comments, or both, into the record at that time. The Public Utilities Commission, Department of Commerce and the North Dakota Pipeline Company staff will be available to answer questions about the permitting process and the project.

In other business, Cunningham asked the county board to consider the revision of Zoning Ordinance 27 as it concerns conditional use permits, suggesting the ordinance provide for interim uses as well. She explained that a conditional use permit, once it is issued, remains with the property indefinitely and the county cannot impose a sunset date on it. She said interim use permits provide for a temporary use of the property that ends on a stated date. Cunningham said interim use permits would be a “useful tool” for county zoning and would be especially beneficial for home-based businesses and re-occurring events.

“Many cities around the state are already doing this, and lots of counties are jumping on the band wagon,” said Cunningham. “We want to jump along with them.”

Committee members recommended that Cunningham be allowed to develop a draft of the amendment for the planning commission to review, followed by a public hearing and final board action.

Committee members unanimously supported the hiring of a professional design consultant to develop a preliminary marketing plan for the county by way of a logo, color scheme and possibly a standard brand document that would distinguish any and all communications as being from Carlton County.

“The first thing a business consultant advises its clients is ‘how you present yourself’ is as important as the product that you are selling,” explained Economic Development Director Connie Christenson in a memo to Committee members. “This is why such great thought, consideration and funding is placed on the marketing component of business development. The same level of effort is required to differentiate Carlton County as part of our competitive strategy.”

Christenson acknowledged that such a “recognition factor” requires repetition of a common theme, but it does not necessarily mean just a logo, though she added a logo is a good place to start.

County Coordinator Dennis Genereau said the county upgraded the design of its logo not long ago, but the design has already been refined at least once and several departments aren’t using it at all because they want it to be something different than it is. Genereau said the complexity of the logo’s design makes it more like an official seal than a usable logo, which is generally simpler and more refined in its elements.

Cost of the preliminary design work is expected to range from $1,500 to $3,000.

Board members expressed the desire for any changes to be incorporated in the county’s new website, which is currently under construction.

Dave Lee, director of Carlton County Health and Human Services, informed Committee members that the county was named the overall winner of the state’s 2013 Local Government Innovation Awards for its Txt4Life Suicide Prevention Program. As part of the award, the county received a professionally-made video production about the program, which Lee showed during the meeting. He explained that the Txt4Life program has expanded to 22 of Minnesota’s counties and is on track to be adopted by all 87 in the near future.

The county also received statewide recognition for its Breastfeeding Support Program from the Minnesota Department of Health. WIC (Women, Infants and Children) supervisor Kathy Blais told Committee members that the county exceeded the state’s Healthy People 2020 goal, with over 84 percent of Carlton County WIC infants initiating breastfeeding by December 2012. The 2020 goal for all counties was set at 81.9 percent.

Public Health and Human Services also received a third statewide award from the Minnesota Department of Health — this time for having the highest immunization coverage rate for a county with more than 350 and less than 1,000 children 2 years of age.