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Commissioners navigate critical issues in recent meeting

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday, Jan. 9 in the Lincoln County Boardroom. With all but Commissioner Tiffani Landeen present, commissioners heard agenda items including conditional use permits, courthouse approaches, pre-disaster mitigation plans and more 

Planning Director, Toby Brown brought forth the first agenda item, a public hearing for an appeal of a decision by the Lincoln County Planning Commission to approve Conditional Use Permit #USE-0072-2023 to allow an agriculturally related operation involving the handling, storage, transportation, and shipping of farm products on the property legally described as S1/2N1W/4, Section 19-T96N-R48E Eden Township. 

“The applicants are proposing to lease a portion of the property to develop a digester which allows methane gas to be captured and then converted to natural gas which is a separate part of the process. This part of the process is really just the digester tanks and the associated equipment,” Brown said. 

Members from Novilla RNG, LLC joined the meeting to explain to commissioners how the equipment would work and that it would make an equivalent of nearly 800,000 gallons of gas as well as share stories from people who have already installed their equipment. Motion carried.

Chief Civil Deputy from the State’s Attorney’s Office, Drew DeGroot presented a resolution of necessity to acquire real property necessary for opening and constructing a highway. 

“This resolution is an update to the resolution that was passed by this board on July 11. I had an opportunity to go back and listen to that meeting, and I know it’s a decision this board did not take lightly when they made it, but what this would do is update the legal descriptions. The property has been surveyed by Stockwell Engineering and you can see it’s been designated as lots H2 and H3. Stockwell Engineering did have permission from the landowners before entering the property, we made sure of that. What we’re seeking here is a vote on the resolution of necessity, this would update those legal descriptions and allow us to move forward in this action,” DeGroot said. 

The Commissioners voiced their frustration in finding a solution to this problem. 

“I don’t take this lightly, by no means if this site could not have an access off of Highway 18 versus a township road would have been a site that would be considered, the next option frankly for this community was to consider moving it outside of the County Seat completely. There are no willing sellers of property in this community or adjacent to this community that met the criteria that was necessary for the future of the county. There’s always a great scenario if there’s land that for sale, that works, there wasn’t. This is not an easy decision, the City of Canton as well said that we need access directly off of 18 for services into this property. This isn’t just to make some grandiose entrance, it’s a necessity and if we don’t fully support the necessity of that, I cannot support this and I nor can support the site at all. So, if this is not a unanimous decision, I will be voting no and then we start looking at possibly moving the county seat because there is not an acceptable land for sale without some kind of hiccup and a 2.8 acre access point for the site, if that is not an acceptable condition, then lets move the county seat,” Commissioner Poppins said before the final vote. Commissioner Schmidt tried to calm the room before the vote. “We have a lot of things going on here, we have plans, we’ve approved architectural plans, we’ve approved everything and we’re about ready to go out for some requests for proposals. We have to either table this thing and come to an agreement amongst ourselves before we take a vote that may have some repercussions that we don’t necessarily want to have to address,” Schmidt said. 

Motion failed in a 2-2 vote, Arends and Poppins voting no. 

Harold Timmerman joined the meeting for a resolution of the Lincoln County Commission declaring support and adoption of the 2023 Pre-disaster mitigation plan for Minnehaha and Lincoln Counties. 

“This plan gets reviewed and updated every five years, and this started in 2023 because the plan officially ended in September. By adopting this plan, it makes it possible for entities within the county to apply for mitigation money to help do projects and that money comes from 15 percent of every presidential declaration that’s been held in the state. That money gets put into a fund in and once this is adopted by the county, it makes our local entities eligible to apply for that funding,” Timmerman said. Motion approved.

Highway Superintendent, Terry Fluit joined the meeting to request board action to request bids for the 2024 road striping project for the Highway Department. 

“In the past, this has been done through the DOT, they have facilitated this bid, but they came to us about a year and a half ago looking to delegate this back down to the counties to do on their own if they so chose. We have a group of us in the Eastern end of the state, there is about 13 counties that are going together, we are doing a regional bid of local counties to get our own striping bid because the last few years it’s kind of been a mess with the DOT, they’re short staffed, and it gets really late and then we have carry over from year to year that don’t get striping and your have to carry things over and plan for the next year,” he said. 

Fluit is looking to go to bid in February with 120 miles in Lincoln County needing striping. Motion approved.

Fluit also requested board action to approve the purchase of a 2022 307.5 Caterpillar Excavator from Butler Cat in the amount of $89,073. 

“This unit is a budgeted item in ’24, back in August or September last year, we started renting this unit, it was on their rental list from Butler and it had very few hours on it. We kept renting it month after month and finally they came to us and told us we could do this purchase and all your rental will go towards your purchase, so that’s what we’re going to do,” he said. 

The new unit will replace an old JCB Backhoe for the department and they will be surplusing the unit later. Motion approved.

Fluit next asked for board action to approve the removal of structure 42-110-253 from the National Bridge Inventory (NBI). 

“This structure, several years ago, when Northern Natural Gas was replacing pipeline down in the southern part of the county, they were following 475th Avenue and this structure got a lot of attention as the pipeline folks were crossing this structure and this was a five ton bridge at the time, but we ended up closing the structure and that got replaced in 2023 as a part of our local project and we put pipe in there instead. This is no longer classified as bridge on the NBI,” Fluit said. 

Motion approved.


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