• 14Sep

    Edit: Thank you to Mike Anderson for some corrections that I was not aware of. They are in the comments, but I am also adding them at the end of the post.

    Here is the story of how the city participated in undoing an environmental mess created outside of the city. Even though the issues were caused by decisions made outside of the city, city taxpayers have contributed $245,000 to the joint effort to address flooding and erosion on cascade creek. A total of 3 major projects are planned for this area. Two projects are upstream and were aimed at reducing peak flood conditions. Based on heavy rain falls this year they appear to be quite effective.

    Stream Reconstruction:

    The 3rd and most significant, a complete reconstruction of the stream through the former Meadow Lakes Golf Course (recently annexed into the city). This project will return the natural winds in the stream and stabilize the banks. Previous erosion has contributed to sedimentation in Interlachen Lake (private) and to a lesser extent Manorwoods Lake (public and private mix). Both of these lakes have a fundamental design flaw that they were built with the stream passing through them. This coupled with the poor land use up stream has created a prolonged sedimentation issue. This stabilization project issue should greatly reduce the ongoing sedimentation issue. Cascade lake (public) was design to be spring fed and then drain into the creek so as to avoid sedimentation / pollution issues.

    Here is a before image of how the stream ran through the golf course. The section what was straightened was particularly bad for erosion.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 7.22.36 PM_zpsmpgivagk.png

    Creation of 40 new acres of parkland:

    Here is an image of what the stream bank will look like after reconstruction. The area shown here will have a 40 acre easement what will effectively serve as future parkland. I would expect to eventually have the city trail system extended here.

     photo Screen Shot 2016-09-14 at 7.23.20 PM_zpsfqwnnxft.png

    Hard to see in the picture, but the water in the new channel is visibly cleaner than old channel.

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    The new channel is well constructed and planted to prevent erosion.

     photo IMG_8422_zps6na0bh3m.jpg

    Coming development:

    The Northwest portion of the golf has been approved for medium density residential and a little bit of neighborhood commercial at the intersection of County Road 34 & 45th Street SW. I was the one no vote as I thought  special district was more appropriate.

    The Southeast corner is more complex and I am not aware of any current plans. There are a number of complicating factors and I recommend a community planning process for this area. There are multiple land owners. Vehicle counts are limited and will require a 2nd connection. This 2nd connection will require a bridge over Cascade Creek. This is expensive. The cost requires many units to support the cost. In addition there are town homes that will have back yard setback concerns. Throw in some private agreements, and future left turn limitations from Berkshire Road onto West Circle Dr and we have a total mess. Probably the only way this gets developed is a grand bargain through a neighborhood scale plan. Unfortunately the planning department does not have the staffing to do this.

    Meadow Lakes Town Homes (North of County Road 34):

    Since they were first built, these town homes have required an expensive private lift station to feed the gravity sewer. In addition to the work being done on the stream bank, the current work will also allow for these homes to be gravity linked to a different sewer access.

    You need to correct a couple of mistakes in your “Meadow Lakes” discussion.
    1) Interlachen Lake (I don’t know about Manorwoods Lake.) was not “built with the stream passing through” it. It was a spring-fed pit. Cascade Creek flowed southeast of it. The old creek bed existed (I have walked in it) until Avalon Cove was developed. Some time in the 1970s or 1980s, Cascade Creek broke through into the pit. Apparently a decision was made (by the city? county?) not to restore the creek to it’s original route.
    2) Interlachen Lake is not a private lake. Although the land around it is privately owned, now that Cascade Creek flows through it, Interlachen Lake is a public waterway. It’s the same situation that occurs all along Cascade Creek. There might be private property on both sides of it, but it is still a public waterway. The was confirmed a couple years ago by the DNR.

    Please correct the mistakes so visitors to your web site are not misinformed.

    Thank you.

    Mike Anderson

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  • 24Sep

    Just remember every time you pay the city sewer charge on your RPU bill (city charge), you are subsidizing the luxury homes of others. I find this policy to be unfair and unwise. Every year we are giving away about $5 million which translates to the equivalent of 10% of city taxes… The give away to unsustainable single family detached in on the order of $3.5 – $4 million per year. Approximately 0% of these single family homes are considered affordable ($160k). Rochester has prioritized this subsidy over affordable housing, transit, and infrastructure maintenance. I disagree and will continue to fight the policy.

     photo Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 3.49.21 PM_zpseifvzjpo.png

    Read more…

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  • 30Mar

    Here are some details on our potential Fats, Oils, and Greases Ordinance. This seems like good responsible policy.

    Here’s a summary of the Ordinance:

    1.       All (400-500) Food Service Establishments (FSE) in Rochester will covered by the Ordinance.

    2.       Existing City Ordinances prohibit the discharge of substances that could block the sewer or adversely impact the waterwater treatment process.

    3.       Some existing FSEs currently pay septage haulers to dispose of FOG at significant expense because the City does not currently except FOG.

    4.       The new FOG Ordinance brings the existing Ordinance into line with the State Plumbing Code relative to grease interceptors and defines the responsibilities for maintenance and recordkeeping of an FSE’s grease interceptor.

    5.       All FSEs are “grandfathered” in based on their current status.  All FSE’s fall into one of the following statuses:

    a.       No grease interceptor install serving the FSE

    b.      Grease interceptor installed, but not properly maintained

    c.       Grease interceptor installed and properly maintained

    6.       New Ordinance to take effect January 1, 2016.  The State Plumbing Code requirements for installation of grease interceptors are already in and will be enforced.

    7.       There is NO FEE for the City’s initial inception of each FSE.

    8.       If an FSE is found to be in compliance with the Ordinance provisions related to maintenance and recording keeping of a grease interceptor a Compliance Letter will be issued.

    9.       If an FSE is found to be in non-compliance because no grease interceptor has been installed to serve the FSE, the FSE will be issued a Letter of Non-Compliance.  The Letter will set forth the requirements for payment of a monthly Surcharge Fee for discharging FOG to the sewer collection system and the requirements for installing a grease interceptor if and when modifications to the building in which the FSE is located occur.

    10.   If an FSE is found to be in non-compliance with the Ordinance provisions related to maintenance and record keeping of an existing grease interceptor a Letter of  Non-Compliance will be issued setting forth a date upon which a re-inspection will occur and the expected corrective actions by the FSE.  A re-inspection fee will be changed.  In addition, an Administrative Citation will be issued if the non-complaint issues are not resolved.

    11.   An FSE may file for an Exemption to install a grease interceptor as set forth in the Ordinance.  A Fee will be changed for the processing of the Exemption application.  The FSE would be required to pay a monthly surcharge for the discharge of FOG to the sewer collection system.

    12.   A FOG Program Coordinator position will need to be approved by the Council and hired in 2015 to implement and administer the Program.  FOG program revenues are anticipated to pay for the Program Coordinator position.

    13.   No significant capital expenditures are anticipated during the first 2-3 years of the FOG Program implementation.

    14.   The initially projected methane gas production and resultant energy savings at the WRP were over-estimated.  All the FOG Program benefits still exist, but the energy savings projections are less than originally estimated.

    Chet and I look forward to our discussion of the FOG Ordinance and Program Fees with you.   We appreciate your support of the Program.


    Richard W. Freese, P.E.

    Director Public Works / City Engineer

    Here are how the fees will work, the program will pay for itself, as it should.


    An FSE that meets all requirements of state code and City of Rochester FOG Ordinance will not pay FOG Program Fees except for the Disposal Fees paid to their FOG Hauler.   The FOG Program applies only to “brown grease” which is contaminated wastewater grease.  “Yellow grease”, found in fryers, is separate and not part of this Ordinance or fees.

    1. 1.      Inspection / Re-inspection Fees
      1. There are NO Inspection Fees.  There will not be charge to a FSE for the city’s inspection of an FSE.
      2. All establishments will be charged for re-inspections.  A re-inspection occurs only if the FSE is found to not be in compliance with the Ordinance; more specifically if they have not followed the grease interceptor cleaning requirements set forth in the ordinance and state plumbing code and a follow-up visit by the city staff is required to assure compliance has been achieved.  The Re-inspection Fees  are:

                                                   i.     $100 for first re-inspection

                                                 ii.     $200 for second re-inspection

                                                iii.     $300 for third and subsequent re-inspections

    1. The amount of the Re-inspection fee is based on staff time required to travel to the site, perform the re- inspection, follow-up correspondence with FSE owner, and record-keeping.
    2. 2.     Sewer Utility Surcharge Fees
      1. Surcharge fees will be charged to any FSE that does not have a grease interceptor.
      2. Surcharge fees  promote the installation of grease interceptors and  provide a more equal treatment of FSEs with ownership and operating costs for the grease interceptors compared to those FSEs who  do not have to install and maintain  a grease interceptor.
      3. A surcharge fee of $50/month is to be established for each FSE.
      4. 3.     Exemption Application Fees
        1. Exemption application fees are $100 per exemption submittal and pay for staff time to review and issue exemptions.
        2. 4.     Administrative Citation
          1. An Administrative Citation will be issued for a FSE who fails to maintain their grease interceptor as required by the FOG ordinance.   Administrative Citations are established by Chapter 5 ($60 first offense).
          2. Re-inspection fees are in addition to the Administrative Citation.
          3. This will only be used when a FSE is not in compliance with the Ordinance.
          4. If compliance is not achieved, then a Notice of Violation will be issued.
          5. 5.     Disposal Fee
            1. A disposal fee of $30 per 1000 gallons ($30/septage hauler truck) with a $30 minimum is charged at the WRP for disposal of FOG.

    NOTE: The fee is less than 1/3 of our current septage rate which would otherwise have been charged at our facility for disposal of this waste.  The fee is lower to encourage bringing FOG to WRP instead of land application. The fee pays for approximately 25% of the FOG program coordinator position), however, it is necessary to prevent illegal dumping and assist in tracking waste hauled to the WRP.


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  • 03Oct

    Rochester is the largest member of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities.  We voted to support this lawsuit.  The issue for cities is that we are being asked to reduce pollution in waters that did not come from cities, rather more commonly they come farm fields.  The cost to Rochester to meet this standard which is NOT supported by scientists is estimated to be $50 million.  The issue here is that the types of pollution addressed are not coming from cities so the rule is pointless.  This is one of the first times I have ever supported a lawsuit against the MPCA which hints at how silly this rule is. Read more…

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  • 03Jun

    RPU will spent about $106k to reimburse people that ran water to prevent freeze-ups.  This was probably a good investment because with “service assured” we would foot the cost of addressing freeze-ups with many customers.  Either way I think it is good customer service.

    Attached, please find recap of the Running Water credits that applied to customers invoices as their respective accounts came up for billing in May.

    There are currently nine more accounts that will be receiving Running Water Credits on their June invoices.  These are for customers that called in after their May billings processed.




    TOTAL WATER CREDITS APPLIED:                              $ 26,177.26

    TOTAL WASTE WATER CREDITS APPLIED:               $ 79,836.71

    TOTAL RUNNING WATER CREDITS:                           $106,013.97


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  • 22Jan

    I had requested that city staff detail issues with the 2nd street NW project in Kutzky Park.  Many neighbors were furious at the needless destruction of generational trees by a careless Lametti & Sons.  The city is not 100% innocent on this either and we have created a tree protection policy as a result of our issues.  We also instuitued a number of other improvements based on lessons learned.  However if all of staffs findings are shown to be correct I am not comfortable with Lametti & Sons continuing to work in Rochester.  This report indicates gross neglect by Lametti & Sons.  Interestingly they had performed quality work for Rochester in the past, but this project was not handled in an acceptable manner.

    Public Works Summary of Lametti & Sons Performance

    I have also requested via staff that Lametti & Sons be given an opportunity to respond and will also offer Kutzky Park an opportunity to respond.

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  • 04Aug

    This really sucks, I don’t like it but there is really not a choice in my book.  The big picture is this is what happens without long term regional planning.  Moral of the story, do it right the first time.  In the interest of transparency, here is some more information from Gary Neumann.

    Mayor and Council,

    I requested that the Public Works Department staff provided some additional information relating to the costs for the Lenwood project that is the subject of D-18.  Due to a number of factors, as is detailed in the attached information from Jim Loehr, the project award would be over-budget by about $435,000.  Some of this is due to new storm water costs and watermain looping costs that were not originally part of the project and will be covered from utility funds. In addition some of the costs can be paid with the anticipated remaining balance in the sales tax water quality program.  The remaining estimated $225,000 would be recommended by this office to come from sales tax funds.  The City did commit to a maximum capped cost with the property-owners so increasing their costs does not appear to be a reasonable option. Read more…

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  • 16Nov

    Here is a list of Projects funded or partially funded with local option sales tax dollars since 1983.  Every time Rochester has voted on this we have approved the sales tax by better than a 2-1 margin.  I hope that this continues in 2012.  Big thanks to Gary Neumann for keep track of these projects. Read more…

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  • 01Nov

    Here is a memo detailing how bad the sewer situation is near Orchard Hills Villas.  Basically previous work and documentation were poorly done.  The council voted 6-1 to split the previous costs amongst interested parties.  I opposed because I don’t feel that we need to spend any taxpayer money.  Further, it looks like previous discussions weren’t entirely accurate. Read more…

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  • 21Oct

    We have definitely found that there is a sewer issue at Orchard Hills Villas with the existing sewer line.  The issue is that previous work on Fox Chase Rd. sewer was not done correctly.  The city council has been asked to have the taxpayers fix this.  While I am very supportive of Orchard Hills Villas and think it is a great project, I am not willing to put additional taxpayer subsidies into the area.  Here is the staff note from Doug Nelson: Read more…

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