Scandia PC OK’s update of water management plan

Scandia City Council will discuss plan on June 19

Mary Bailey
Scandia Reporter

At their June 5 meeting the Scandia Planning Commission, led by Vice Chair Tom Krinke, voted unanimously to send the updated Local Water Management Plan to the city council. Commissioners Christine Maefsky and Jan Hogle were absent.

No one spoke at the public hearing. The council will discuss the plan on June 19. After that it will be submitted to the Metropolitan Council, and to the three watershed districts that cover Scandia, for a required 60-day review period.

The Local Water Management Plan is an appendix to the city’s Comprehensive Plan. It must be updated by September to be consistent with new plans adopted by the three watershed districts that cover Scandia.

In addition to the St. Croix River and Falls Creek, Scandia has 15 named lakes, three named ponds and 20 unnamed bodies of water over two acres in size.

Eight bodies of water are listed as impaired: the St. Croix River with mercury and PCBs, Big Marine Lake with mercury, and six lakes with excessive nutrient levels.

For Fish Lake, Hay Lake and Long Lake, the report identifies storm water runoff as the major source of pollution. Individual sewage treatment systems are blamed for Goose Lake.

White Rock Lake, located in an agricultural area, was added to the impaired waters list in 2010. Sand Lake was removed from the impaired waters list.

For the sixth lake on the list, Bone Lake, an implementation plan of the Comfort Lake/Forest Lake Watershed District includes rough fish management, pondweed management, an infiltration basin, shoreland survey, lake plant/invasive species survey and possible wetland restoration.

The plan also identifies natural areas in Scandia. The city includes 5,440 acres of forest and woodland, 2,851 acres of wetlands, and 3,051 acres of open water. Falls Creek is classified as an outstanding natural area.

Other regionally significant ecological areas are along the St. Croix River, west of Big Marine Lake and east of Sand Lake.

Scandia plans to complete an inventory of its culverts by 2015 at an estimated cost of $10,000. Projects planned by the Carnelian/Marine/St. Croix Watershed District include river bluff erosion control at 205th Street, storm water management incentives downtown and in lake neighborhoods, and ravine reconstruction on 197th Street.

Accessory Structures

Also ready for council review are changes to the zoning ordinance requirements for agricultural buildings.

The city regulates the number of buildings residents can have and how big they are. In Scandia, in order to have an unlimited number of buildings besides the house, a person needs at least 80 acres. Surrounding communities have no limit after 20 acres.

The planning commission recommends that Scandia allow an unlimited number and square footage for agricultural buildings on parcels over 20 acres.

On parcels over 10 acres but under 20, the commission would allow one agricultural building, in addition to the two non-agricultural buildings already allowed, up to a total of 5,000 square feet. (The current limit is two buildings, up to a total of 3,500 square feet.)

The council referred this issue to the planning commission with a recommendation to change the required acres to 30. Council member Chris Ness explained to the commission why he preferred using 30 acres. When the land is no longer used for agriculture, he said, 20 acres with a lot of buildings may become a trucking company.

Council member Jim Schneider, who also attended the planning commission meeting, said, “If somebody moves off the farm and somebody else brings in a trucking company, that’s the time to permit.”

Equine Support

The planning commission also heard support for the ordinance change from May Township resident Bill Voedisch.  He and his wife Laurie Carlson operate a non-profit, We Can Ride, for disabled children and adults.

Voedisch urged Scandia to treat equine operations as agriculture. Otherwise, he said, limits on buildings lead to no equine operations.

Horse farms need buildings for hay and machinery storage, and “the real need is an indoor riding arena,” Voedisch said, for year-round riding, rain or shine.

A riding arena that is 60 to 70 feet wide and 100 to 140 feet long is necessary for breeders, single families, and the performance show circuit, he said. “That’s the kernel of the square footage, and that’s why you don’t have any new horse operations in Scandia.”

Equine operations are great consumers, Voedisch added.  “A horse costs $2,000 to $2,400 per year to maintain,” he said. “Crabtree’s has substantial pallets of feed and bales of shavings. If you had more equine operations, that’s where they would go.”

Voedisch said the Saturday mornings and Wednesday nights when people come to ride are the highlights of his week. “Horses are a good thing,” he concluded.

The planning commission vote was unanimous.