April 20, 2016

Headaches for water board as Lake Shore project stalls

By Daniel Arens

After months of effort to bring together the different people involved and try to come up with a new plan or revive old plans, hopes of reaching a solution for the draining of the flooded Lake Shore Estates has been stonewalled.
Greg Lange, secretary of the Mercer County Water Resource Board, broke the news to the other board members and Greg Ficek with Lake Shore Estates. Lange had contacted the U.S. Farm Service Agency to see if they could allow a third-party exception that would enable the water board to adopt a plan they had devised to drain water to the south along Beulah Bay Road, but the request had been denied.
“It’s not likely I’m going to be able to persuade them differently,” Lange said.
Although this plan had the approval of both Lake Shore residents and other neighboring property owners, any attempt by the water board to implement alternative plans could run afoul of landowners if it impacts their property.
Jerome Boeshans has routinely opposed plans the water board has drafted in the past that involve the use of any of his property in developing a potential solution to the flooding. There has already been some flooding on the southern end of his fields, which are separated by a dirt road from the flooded pond at Lake Shore Estates.
Although the water board hopes to generate further discussion among the interested parties about how to address the flooding issue while complying with federal regulations, Lange pointed out that the board does have the authority to implement “quick take,” a policy of eminent domain by which the local agency purchases the relevant land at its appraised value, transferring its ownership to the water board for use in developing a water drainage plan.
The water board only intends to make use of this authority as a last resort, but Lange noted the commission is hitting “dead end after dead end” with the National Resources Conservation Service and other government entities, and without a plan that all can agree to that meets federal approval, the board may be faced with either scrapping the project entirely or justifying the use of “quick take.”
Water Board Member Casey Voigt brought up several scenarios he thought could maybe allow the board to take action without violating NRCS rules. Specifically, he pointed out that, according to the bylaws of these regulations, only farming the land in question would cause a violation.


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