Moorhead, Clay County form Joint Powers Authority to Support Implementation of the FM Area Diversion Project

(Aug. 15, 2019) The City of Moorhead and Clay County, MN have formed a Joint Powers Authority (MCCJPA) to reaffirm their support and involvement in the implementation of the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion Project. The MCCJPA had its first meeting on August 14 at the Clay County Courthouse.

The MCCJPA’s primary objectives include the responsibility to acquire necessary property rights in Minnesota for construction and operation of the Project and to pursue additional funding for the Project from the State of Minnesota.

The MCCJPA unanimously adopted five charter goals:

  1. To acquire the property rights necessary for the FM Area Diversion Project, in compliance with State and Federal guidelines and in accordance with the philosophy of being fair, friendly, and flexible to those whose property is required for the Project.
  2. Provide uniform and equitable treatment of persons whose real property is acquired or are displaced in connection with the Project.
  3. To be respectful to the taxpayers and strive to keep acquisition costs within the Project’s annual budget
  4. To be consistent, where possible within State law, with practices being used by the Cass County Joint Water Resource District, which is the entity that has been working to acquire property rights in North Dakota for a number of years.
  5. As a last resort measure, use Eminent Domain to acquire the necessary property.

“The FM Area Diversion Project is a huge component of the future safety and vibrancy for Clay County,” Kevin Campbell, Clay County Commissioner and Vice Chair of the Diversion Authority, said. “The Project has followed all state laws and has successfully been through the permitting process established by the State of Minnesota. Our citizens expect construction to continue.”

The MCCJPA Board is made up of six individuals, including two members from the Clay County Commission (Kevin Campbell and Grant Weyland) consistent with its appointments to the Diversion Board of Authority, three people appointed by the City of Moorhead (Mayor Johnathan Judd, Chuck Hendrickson, and Shelly Carlson) consistent with its appointments to the Diversion Board of Authority, and one member appointed by the Buffalo Red River Watershed District (BRRWD) Board of Managers (Jay Leitch).

At its first meeting, the MCCJPA Board unanimously approved a funding request for $46 Million to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources through the Flood Damage Reduction Grant Assistance Program. This request is in addition to previously submitted requests from the City of Moorhead for work within the City consistent with the Diversion Project “Plan B”.

“The State of Minnesota has been an important and generous partner in our flood protection efforts. The Diversion Project will take another step forward with the latest funding request,” said Moorhead Mayor Johnathan Judd.

The Diversion Project includes properties in Minnesota located along the Southern Embankment and within the Upstream Mitigation Area. In total in Minnesota, approximately 500 acres are needed for construction of the Southern Embankment along with approximately 6,600 acres in the Upstream Mitigation Area where flowage easements need to be obtained.

“The MCCJPA joins Clay County, Moorhead, and the Buffalo-Red Watershed District to work in concert as we acquire property. Anytime an entity has to work to obtain land from a private property owner for a project, it is imperative that the acquisition process is fair and transparent,” said Judd.

In other business, the MCCJPA elected Mayor Johnathan Judd as Chair and Clay County Commissioner Kevin Campbell as Vice-Chair. Clay County will serve as host for all administrative duties of the MCCJPA. The MCCJPA Board’s regular meetings will be held on the 4th Thursday of each month at the Clay County Courthouse to act on the acquisition of property rights needed for the FM Area Diversion Project. The next meeting will be held on August 22 at 1:30 p.m.

For more information about the MCCJPA, please contact Clay County Administrator Steve Larson at 218-299-5002.