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Kiester Township Board adopts ditch policy

By Staff | Dec 2, 2012

The residents of Kiester Township have spoken. They approve of maintaining ditches.

On Nov. 6 when the Kiester township voters headed to the booths, they were prepared to cast a vote pertaining to a ditch issue on township roads.

Tim Engebretson, the chairman of the Kiester Township Board, explains that there have been some property owners that have not been in compliance with ditch maintenance policy.

The township board which consists of three supervisors, a clerk and a treasurer agreed that putting this issue on the ballot would help answer any questions about liability issues.

“For example, when it snows and people are snowmobiling and a large rock is in the ditch, someone could get hurt,”?Engebretson says. “It’s about safety.”

After the vote passed with 65 percent yes votes, the board is now allowed to do two things; take care of the maintenance issue themselves and assess the costs to the owner’s property taxes.

Any property owner not in compliance with the policy, which was taken from an existing Minnesota statute, will be notified by the board.

After a notice has been given and the resident still hasn’t complied, the board will put the policy into play as they take care of the issue themselves.

“We’ve had issues with a couple of property owners, so this will give us a little power to take care of things,”?Engebretson adds.

A hearing was held to inform the residents before they headed to the voting booths. They also made sure to advertise in local newspapers to educate voters beforehand.

“Two people showed up at the hearing,”?Engebretson says. “They were in favor of the change, so people did have the chance to ask questions before the vote.”

He adds that many other townships in Minnesota have had to resort to doing the same type of enforcement when it comes to maintenance along the roadways.

The need for maintenance will be at the board’s discretion.

“We are going to make sure we are not overstepping our power,”?Engebretson adds. “And, hopefully this doesn’t get abused in the future.”

He also states it will take a lot for a ditch maintenance issue to reach a level in which they would need to enforce this new policy.

“The residents had to vote,”?Engebretson says. “So, they know it is in place now.”