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Patrick Springer, Published June 22 2010

Cass commission reviews joint powers agreement

Cass County commissioners offered their suggestions Monday for a joint powers agreement with other local governments for a metro flood diversion.

They agreed, for instance, that they favor a nine-member board, with six votes coming from North Dakota and three from Minnesota.

The lopsided voting reflects the fact that North Dakota would receive most of the benefits of a diversion and therefore would assume most of the financial burden of paying for it.

The five-member commission went through each paragraph of the draft joint powers agreement with State’s Attorney Birch Burdick.

He said he will take the recommendations with him when he meets with fellow attorneys representing local governments as they continue drafting the agreement.

“This sets the stage for the future, no doubt,” said Darrell Vanyo, chairman of the Cass County Commission and a member of the local flood work group.

Also Monday, commissioners decided they will seek a meeting with the city of Briarwood to try to resolve differences involving buyouts of flood-prone homes.

Briarwood refused to allow the removal of some homes sold at a public auction because trees would have to be cut down.

County commissioners are concerned that significant county taxpayer dollars have been allocated to help Briarwood, including more than $208,000 of the cost of buying properties the city refused to allow to be moved.

The county’s share of another four homes seeking buyouts is $330,000, and the county also could provide another $100,000 for demolition costs.

The county sold flood buyout homes at auction to defray its costs. As matters now stand, buyers of homes bought with the intent of moving them to a new location would be left paying 10 percent of what they paid for the homes, with the county absorbing 90 percent.

Vanyo suggested the idea to seek a meeting with Briarwood officials “to attempt to negotiate a win-win situation out of this.”

Meanwhile, the Oxbow Country Club has expressed a willingness to allow buyout homes to be removed by crossing its driving range, for a fee of $40,000, plus the cost of replacing trees or other damage.Commissioners agreed it is reasonable to restore the golf course and appreciate Oxbow’s willingness to work with the county but want to discuss the $40,000 fee.

Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners were briefed on plans for a proposed high-voltage transmission line, CapX2020, that 11 utilities plan to build connecting Fargo to Monticello.

Officials with the city of Fargo and Stanley Township, located south of the city, are concerned that placement of the power line corridor could be detrimental to landowners and could impede Fargo’s growth.

“We understand that the south part of Fargo is the area with the growth,” said Tim Carlsgaard, a CapX2020 spokesman, who was asked why the line couldn’t cross the Red River into Minnesota north of Fargo.

Reasons include other power lines north of the city and to serve the growing south side with power. The line also would carry wind power and other energy generated in western North Dakota.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522