Regular Meeting - March 2, 2010

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            March 2, 2010  Regular Meeting


The Crow Wing Township Board of Supervisors held its Regular Meeting on Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. at the Crow Wing Town Hall.  Present were Chairman Greg Smith, Supervisors Mark Platta and Dave Schultz, Clerk Virginia Rogers, Treasurer Susan Goodew and those on the attached public roster.


There were no gopher bounties requested.



Big Wood Timber


Five residents were present to discuss the complaint about smoke coming from the outdoor furnace at Big Wood Timber Frames. Dave LePage was present to represent Big Wood. A resident stated that she has visited neighbors of Big Wood and found that the smoke bothers her lungs and that the she has seen the smoke cross the road causing visibility problems. Melanie Strobel said that she has serious problems with the smoke that makes them unable to care for their grandson, for whom they provide daycare. A few residents mentioned the color and odor of the smoke and questioned why it looks and smells different than wood stove smoke. Greg shared information from some research that he had done, stating that outdoor furnaces do produce more and different-smelling smoke than indoor units. Big Wood has assured the town board that they are burning only wood scraps and not any treated lumber. Roy Pokavich added that he drives through it every day and can't imagine what it would be like living next to it. Melanie asked if the furnace will be used year round. Dave LePage stated that they have two kilns powered by the wood boiler. They have been visited by MPCA and have sorted out all lumber with paint. They have experimented with burning pellets to see if that made a difference in the smoke. He added that the smoke descending to the ground is an inversion and not due to the weight of the byproduct of the furnace. Mark Strobel stated that burning moldy wood releases mold into the air. He suggested that the owners do not care about the neighbors and added that black smoke is coming from the furnace. He noted that two of his grandchildren are having medical problems that he believes may be related to the smoke. Greg spoke about what the board can do. He referred to the Conditional Use Permit which gives Big Wood until June 15th to resolve this issue. He added that the township could write an ordinance regarding this type of use next to residential properties, but that Big Wood would still have until June 15th to resolve the issue. He noted that moving the furnace would probably not solve the problem, but that there are other possible remedies, such as adding to the smokestack or putting a blower on it. Dave stated that they have never burned tires or other debris in the furnace and have only burned wood, with the ash being removed to the landfill. He welcomed the neighbors to come over if they see black smoke and he will be happy to open the furnace to show what is being burned. He added that he does have concern about the smoke for both his employees and the neighbors. He said that he will look into the possibility of adding a fan to the smokestack. Brad Arnold stated that he sympathizes with both parties. The neighbors should not have to put up with the smoke, but Big Wood is not causing the problem intentionally. He said that he has seen the system burn very clean when it is burning well, but that there are times when it appears to be restricted. He added that the dark smoke comes from burning the soot out of the furnace and that it's important that something be figured out to keep the smoke from being such a frequent problem. Dave LePage talked about how the furnace system works. Melanie Strobel asked why the smoke makes her lungs feel as if they're burning when that doesn't happen from a campfire or other wood burning fires and said that they are breathing in this smoke on a daily basis. Melanie Strobel asked Dave LePage if he would like to live in her house with the smoke. He said that he does work there  and he knows that the smoke does not go in their direction every day. Melanie added that she has to take the grandkids away from the house on the days that the smoke is going onto their property. She said it is not fair that she has to leave home some days and cannot return until the smoke clears. Jim Strowbridge asked if there is something different about burning old wood versus firewood that would cause the difference in the color of the smoke and the particles in it. Greg stated that we don't know the answer to that. Dave LePage said that they can try putting regular firewood in the furnace. More discussion followed. Greg again stated that according to the CUP, Big Wood has until June 15th to resolve the issue. Brad asked Dave LePage if he can offer a plan for working on the problem so that progress can be documented between now and the deadline. Dave said that he will discuss it with Mike Nichols and keep a log of attempts and  results. Brad added that it appears that there will need to be some drastic measures taken to make a significant change. Dave said that they will submit a plan to the town board. He was asked to inform the board and the Strobels as to which days they are burning traditional firewood so that any difference can be noted. Susie suggested that the Strobels keep a log as well, noting which days are better and which are worse. Greg pointed out Condition 9 on the CUP to Dave LePage which directly references the smoke and ash problems.


Dog Complaint

A complaint had been received about a puppy belonging to Chris Oppelt on St. Mathias Road. A resident had reported last year that the Oppelt's two dogs had not been cared for properly, gotten very thin and started roaming the neighborhood attempting to find food. They were eventually both hit by vehicles and killed. Recently the Oppelts have gotten a new puppy and it has been visiting the neighbors, obviously hungry and seaking food. He asked that the town board do something about the problem. Ginny was asked to send a letter to the Oppelts notifying them that the problem was brought to our attention and asking that they ensure that their pet is cared for.


Greg shared some information on garbage. It appears that Waste Partners will sell bags to customers for $4 per bag and pick them up. Other garbage services offer this service as well. It will be mentioned at the annual meeting to see what response there is from the people. 


Wetland Conservation Act Responsibilities

Since the last meeting it has been determined that the best way for the WCA responsibilities to be transferred is for the county to delegate them directly to the Soil and Water Conservation District. Mark made a motion to notify the County Board of Commissioners that the Town Board has no problem with that delegation. The motion was seconded by Greg. Discussion followed. The motion carried with Dave opposed.


Randy said he was asked by the local cemetery flag committee and asked if the township would make a donation for Memorial Day weekend. The funding they were getting from the county has been discontinued. They will submit a request for consideration at the annual meeting.


Mark shared information from the Fire Advisory Board meeting last week. It was approved by the city that we can pay half our bill for fire service in July and the other half in January so that the tax levy has been received before making the payment. Theresa Goble recorded this at that meeting. A letter will be sent to Chief Underhill stating that we would like to be informed when an auto fire call is made to our township and the cost of that run so that we can submit a claim to the owner’s insurance company for reimbursement.


Mark made a motion to appoint Linda Schuety, June Hunter and Ed Damrau as election judges for the township election with Linda receiving head judge training for that purpose. The motion was seconded by Greg and carried by unanimous vote. 


The minutes of the February 23, 2010 Regular Meeting and the February 1, 2010 were reviewed. Dave made a motion to approve the minutes as written. The motion was seconded by Greg and carried by unanimous vote.


Dave gave the road report.


Correspondence was reviewed and claims were approved and paid.


The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m. by general consent.