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Commissioners meet with Olmsted counterparts to discuss collaboration

Fri, May 9th, 2003
Posted in Features

As the county board made their way through the morning’s agenda on Tuesday, there were deep vibrations overhead as construction started on the long awaited courthouse remodeling/ addition project.

"They’re starting," laughed Commissioner Randy Dahl as the first order of business in the construction work was to relieve the site of its sidewalks. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud joking told their Olmsted County guests that the vibrations were under six on the Richter scale.

Olmsted County Commissioners Matt Flynn and Paul Wilson, County Administrator Richard Devlin, had requested an audience with Fillmore County to discuss possible collaboration on common issues that might help relieve some of the financial pressure state budget cuts have created. Olmsted County, who will lose $7 million in funding next year, is touring area counties, gathering input on mutual interests. Richard Devlin gave a slide presentation depicting how Olmsted perceived important concerns and their view of the two counties’ assets.

"Common ground, one voice and proactive partnership", were words Devlin stressed throughout the presentation. Though Olmsted has such impressive resources as Mayo Clinic and IBM, the county recognizes the importance of its neighbors. It has been a growing trend for employees of Rochester to seek residence outside of the city, some individuals traveling many miles each day, to the smaller rural communities. A private bus service stops in many of the area towns picking up Mayo Clinic employees, lessening traffic, and parking congestion. Both Olmsted and Fillmore agreed this is a real asset.

Devlin said Olmsted has 76,748 people and 98,605 jobs available. He says the opportunity is out there.

What are the risks of not working together?

Devlin sited five negative reactions when counties don’t work together. 1) More competition for state money. 2) Businesses may go elsewhere. 3) Deterioration of crucial infrastructure if businesses pull out. 4) Tax base can erode. 5) Environmental degradation.

The benefits of pulling together? Devlin cited 1) Stronger impact in numbers. 2) Continual vitality. 3) Vibrant communities. 4) Attractive places to live. 5) Solid economy. The two counties, as well as several others, have already seen the fruits of joint efforts in such areas as Dodge-Fillmore-Olmsted Corrections, Gang Strike Task Force, D.A.R.E., and S.E. MN Water Resources.

Conference Call to

Rep. Greg Davids

Both counties shared the same concern over a reverse referendum, state legislation that is being considered in regard to bonding.

Commissioner Amunrud suggested making a conference call to Rep. Greg Davids to voice their opinion. A reverse referendum means that 5% of the voters can petition to have a bonding decision put to a referendum. In Fillmore County’s last general election, there were 9,400 voters, meaning itt would take 470 voters to petition for a referendum.

Davids was on the floor at the state capitol when the call was made. Through the noise in the background, Davids assured the boards he didn’t feel a reverse would happen. In a later call, Davids said the local elected officials must be accountable for their actions, but a reversal is "heavy handed handcuffs" for any official and that can be harmful as well.

Another mutual interest shared by the two counties concerned overcrowding jails. Olmsted is working on a project that would house 90 inmates, and allow for future expansion. Fillmore is still considering a minimum-security jail. Many counties are in the same dilemma. Both counties commented on the steady growth of meth labs and related crime.

Where to go from here?

Fillmore, Olmsted and nine other counties meet twice a year through the AMC District meeting to discuss current issues. The next meeting is schedule for June. It was decided that the two counties and any other interested parties would get together and do more of a one-on-one session to try and hit on specific concerns.


•Jeffrey Griffin, representing Secluded Land Company of DeSoto, WI, spoke about the petition for a Conditional Use Permit to subdivide an approximately 50 acre parcel located in Newburg and Preble Townships. It is the company’s intention to subdivide 12 lots to be collectively known as the Nolan Valley Subdivision.

The company has 15 requirements listed under protective covenants that are to be followed within the subdivision in order to maintain its intended quality level. Several of these focus on excluding mobil homes/manufactured homes, no clear cutting of a lot (the area is highly vegetated), completing the exteriors of structures within six months after construction has begun, and proper maintenance of said structures in relation to normal wear or damage due to Mother Nature.

In keeping with the county’s concerns over underground water contamination, each residence will be required to have the septic system on a maintenance schedule every other year. There is also a secondary septic site identified, should the primary fail. Groups of four homes will share a well. The board gave approval.

•Norm Craig, Zoning presented an amendment resolution that outlines requirements for Country Inns. The definition is "a home which provides lodging, meals, special facilities and other organized activities for overnight registered guests". The inn may have one to five rooms available for guests and cannot operate on a lot less than three acres.

The resolution was approved. Inn keepers are encouraged to review a detailed copy of the resolution.


Commissioner Randy Dahl touched on the deteriorating condition of Hwy 30 from Rushford to Chatfield. Rep. Greg Davids contacted the MN Dept. Transportation, District 6 and was told in a letter that though the need has been identified, " this segment of Hwy 30 is not prioritized very high for federal funding within the Area Transportation Partnership because of its low traffic volume.” Milling off the existing surface and replacing with new pavement is estimated at $2.6 million. There are plans to replace several bridges along this stretch of road.

MN/Dot District 6 plans to reconstruct Hwy 52 from Preston to Fountain in 2004. Traffic will be detoured via Co. Rd. 22, Harmony, to Co. Hwy 17 through Preston to Co. Hwy 8, Fountain. Hwy 16 traffic will be detoured via State Hwy 80, Wykoff to Co. Hwy 8, Lanesboro.

A segment of road from Lanesboro to Peterson has also been identified for repair within the next two to three years.

Other business

•Entered into agreement with Warren F. Plunkett & Associates, Austin, in regard to an employee Patrick Oman who will be the Acting County Attorney while Brett Corson is on military leave.

•Appointed Matthew J.Opat as Assistant County Attorney at a .3 position while Corson is on leave.

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