By Steve Peterson
At their Dec. 3 meeting Plymouth County Supervisors denied a request from a Le Mars manufacturer for a street vacation and closure but then the matter was scheduled for another meeting.
SmithCo Manufacturing officials had requested vacation of 212th Street for a total of one acre. However, nearby landowners raised several concerns about the street closure. Supervisors voted 3-2 against it. Supervisors Jack Guenthner and Jim Henrich voted in favor while supervisors Don Kass, Craig Anderson and Mark Loutsch dissented. Guenthner made the original motion for vacation and after some time, Loutsch seconded so a vote could take place.
SmithCo representatives were told to bring back an economic development Letter of Agreement guaranteeing the land will be used within two years. Also, a clause stating an easement would be maintained for Mid-American Energy of 25 feet was needed.
The street vacation was to be discussed again Dec. 10 following review by County Attorney Darin Raymond.
Attending the Dec. 3 meeting were Randy Strong of SmithCo; Kirk Maxville of Mid-American Energy and nearby landowner Tom Lehner. If no action to change the Dec. 3 decision took place on Dec. 10 then new notices may have to be sent to property owners.
“In every other economic development action we have approved, there has been a letter of agreement,” said Kass. “That’s been my worry all along.”
“I don’t remember if we’ve ever vacated a road when all of the neighboring landowners opposed it,” said Anderson. “I struggled with this five years ago when we first discussed it. I agree with Jack (Guenthner) that a business in motion is better than a business that might be in motion. We should also have some kind of a commitment over a period of time.”
“It is better to grant something for an existing business then possibly something down the road,” said Guenthner.
Lehner said there has been interest from those who wish to develop his property.
“We may have to build on to what we maintain as 212th Street,” said Kass. “Depending on the nature of the future business and its size.”
“Do you have an agreement with SmithCo?” asked Lehner. The answer was no, just a verbal agreement.
“I’ll commit to that right now for a physical structure to be in place,`” said SmithCo’s Strong.
Strong pledged a physical structure would be on the acquired land within two years and later agreed to send county officials an agreement.
“I would like to know today if possible,” he said. “We have been working on this for a very long time. Circumstances have arisen to make time of the essence so we can move forward on two projects.”
SmithCo had requested the land for further possible future expansion of his side dump trailer manufacturing business.
“You (Lehner) will still have a way in and a way out,” said Henrich.
“It’s a road that goes nowhere,” said Lehner. “The only ones who use it are NIPCO and SmithCo trucks. What is the sense of closing the road? It will not affect their expansion. What will they gain, 20 feet, the width of the road?”
“I would like something written stating within two years,” said Lehner. “There is not sufficient progress.”
Any drainage changes could not impact neighboring lands, said Secondary Road County Engineer Tom Rohe.
An issue which could be resolved with the street vacation would be setbacks.
“The county would maintain control of the 1.86-acre area off U.S. Highway 75,” said Rohe. “The drainage comes from the northwest down to a 48-inch culvert that is currently on SmithCo’s property. When a building was constructed, that drainage was moved over through the culvert and outlet pipe to a ditch.”
“Would you have to bring that back onto county property?” asked Lehner.
“Depending on what they want to do in the future, they could maintain the drainage as is, or use the new area for an open area for loading and unloading. They could drive across the culvert and leave the drainage where it is at. If they wanted to build out to the point where the culvert ends, they would have to change the drainage,” said Rohe.
“If they are not going to build past where the water is already going why close the road?” said Lehner.
“You would still need a certain amount of the area south of the building for a setback,” said Rohe. “On the adjoining property line, the setback distance is less. That would eliminate the setback problem that they have right now.”
“I know that there would have to be ditch work done on the south side of the road,” said Lehner. “It could not handle a four-inch rain. I would end up with excess water.”
“That would become SmithCo’s obligation to control that water,” said Anderson.
“We would have to move the culvert that we have to the north of the road,” said Strong. “We could use the easement so we could have a turning radius for our trucks.”
“They could give to you everything up to the right-of-way line,” said Rohe. “The easement for the transition line would need to be maintained. It goes north to C-38 then to Key Avenue.”
“Twenty-five feet is what we would be looking at,” said Mid-American Energy’s Maxwell, “and they can be extended by a reservation.”
Landowner Dale Stinton of Evansville, Minn., sent a written notice of objection to the vacation. He asked the county to delay the street vacation until additional appraisals would could be done.
“There is no current access off his property onto the road,” said Rohe.
“If a south piece development would happen to come into there, then yes, the land to the west of that road would be impacted,” said Lehner. “There are waterways dividing that piece of ground into three pieces. We’ve had people interested in developing south of that road (212th). I would not lose my access next to the highway. Dave Pick’s property is to the south and west.”
“Did you ever consider expanding to the north, or west,” asked Lehner to Strong.
“The grade going north is prohibitive. To the west is a possibility and that is part of what we’re considering. That’s why we’re here today so we can have that availability south,” said Strong.
“I’m in favor of the expansion but the trucks already park on the county road. Look for future development it is a great possibility to follow that access road,” said Lehner. “Something is intact, why take it out and say five years from now, ‘why did we take it out,’” said Lehner.
in the paragraph above “There is no current access off his property onto the property,” said Rohe.
Should the second “property” be “road”