Right of Entry Requested from Landowners to Help Resolve Project Questions
The Moorhead Clay County Joint Powers Authority on behalf of the Diversion Authority asked Clay County on Nov. 26, 2019 to move forward on the next step in the process to obtain Rights-Of-Entry (ROEs) on 17 properties located throughout Clay County in order to complete cultural and historic building surveys, geotechnical borings, hazardous, toxic, and radioactive waste surveys, biotic surveys, geomorphologic surveys, and land surveys.
ROEs were initially sought for 26 properties, nine of which a ROE Agreement has been voluntarily agreed to. Clay County Commission approved a Resolution of Necessity to acquire the right to enter for the 17 remaining properties and also directed staff to send a letter from the Commission to each remaining property owner in hopes of reaching an agreement before additional action needs to be taken. Landowners will be given ten days from receipt of the letter from the Clay County Commission to voluntarily sign and return the ROE agreement.
The right to enter the 17 properties is required to comply with regulations by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). These temporary ROEs will allow for additional study to be completed which will, in part, help inform Diversion Project designers on the exact locations and specifications of Project features, including the exact location of the southern embankment and necessary road raises.
“Communication with impacted property owners is a top priority,” said Joel Paulsen, Executive Director of the Diversion Authority. “I know property owners have questions and these studies will help get the answers to many of them.”
Property owners were first notified of the need for ROEs between July 19 and Oct. 9, 2019. Since July, landowners have asked questions about the ROEs and the Project as a whole. One question commonly asked by landowners is what would happen if crop damage occurs during the surveys. Although efforts will be taken to conduct the surveys over winter to minimize disturbance, compensation will be provided for any damages to landowners if there is field or crop damage as a result of the surveys. These surveys will help the USACE complete their design and answer property owner’s questions.
“The Corps is aiming for the small window of opportunity between when crops are generally off the field and before winter takes hold or after the snow melts and prior to spring planting,” said Paulsen. “The land we are looking at is primarily ag-related and we are sensitive to the timing of farm operations.”