Minutes – Sept. 11, 2023

Plan Commission Minutes

Town of Washburn

Outdoors at 76440 Paulson Road

Monday, September 11, 2023

Members present: Kim Bro (chair), Cyndi Belanger (secretary), Tim Schwenzfeier (vice chair).

Members absent: Jim Park (town board representative), Hallie Sandberg.

Others present: Mike Harvey (town road superintendent).

  1. Chairman Bro called the meeting of the commission to order at 7:00 P.M. and verified its legal notification (posted at town hall and Tetzner Dairy) on September 9, 2023 and on town website.

  2. At 6:00 P.M. prior to the meeting, the commission conducted a site visit for the driveway permit application of Patrick & Arlene McAlpine to install a driveway and RV pad on their 20-acre parcel in a Forestry 1 zoning district (S½ NE¼SE¼ Section 5 T.48N R.5W; Tax ID#: 35219; south of 75415 Paulson Rd). The owners’ contractor Dale Johnston of Ken & Dale Excavating met with the commission for the site visit. Almost all of the soil map units on the property are part of the “Steep Slopes and Floodplains” soil group on either side of a Class 3 trout stream that is tributary to the Sioux River. The slopes on either side of the stream are forested and stable. The owner wishes to excavate an RV pad on a level area approximately 300 feet west of the northeast corner of the property off of Paulson Road. The proposed site of the RV pad can provide a 75‑foot side yard setback from the north property line and is approximately 110 feet north of the base of the slope and at an elevation approximately 20 feet higher than the floodplain.

    It is possible for a driveway to extend from Paulson Road to the site parallel to the natural topographic contours of the land (a relatively level path from the road to the RV pad). There is a groundwater seep in the current road ditch just uphill of the proposed access of the driveway to Paulson Road. The steady seep softens the west edge of the road bed, contributes to erosion toward the trout stream, and likely poses a risk of ice closure of a culvert placed in the road ditch. Some special measures to manage flow from the seep would be necessary to accompany installation of a driveway culvert in the road ditch. Construction of a driveway on the clayey slope extending to the proposed RV pad could likely expose other seeps and will require a base below the road gravel that will support the stability and load-bearing capacity of the driveway. Dale said he proposed to lay a 4”‑minus rock base over the clay and below the driveway gravel. There is sufficient area for a tee turnaround east of the proposed RV pad. Mike pointed out that a 40‑foot culvert is needed in this location because of the steep ditches on both sides of Paulson Road and so that vehicles can enter and exit a driveway without crossing the road centerline.

  3. At 6:40 P.M. prior to the meeting the commission conducted a site visit for the driveway permit application of Hans & Lauren Dahl for adding a 75’x100’ pole building approximately 20’ southeast of an existing 75’x100’ pole building and 35’ west of the east property line of their 10.5-acre parcel in an Forestry 1 zoning district (part of W½NE¼SW¼ south of Paulson Rd Section 33 T.48N R.5W; Tax ID#: 35562; 76440 Paulson Rd). The purpose of the visit was to assure that the driveway extending to the new building will provide the required turnaround area for emergency vehicle access to the building. The owners are in the process of leveling a base for the new building on forested, sand-over-clay soil. The driveway on the east side of the existing building will provide access to the new building. The commission determined that the existing area on the north side of the current pole building has sufficient depth, width, and turning radius to provide a tee turnaround for a fire truck that would serve the new building.
  4. The minutes of the July 10, 2023 meeting were approved (Tim moves, Cyndi seconds).

  5. The commission discussed Owen and Gilbert Schwartz’s desire to renew their driveway permit that the commission recommended for approval in August 2018 for their 10-acre parcel in an Agriculture 1 zoning district (NW¼NE¼NW¼ Section 17 T.48N R.5W; Tax ID#: 30817; 26335 Engoe Rd). At that time the owners paused their plan to move a tiny home to serve as a bunkhouse and to build a new house. The owners now want to proceed with the same plan and layout. The driveway requirements remain the same as those that the commission previously reviewed.
    The commission recommends (Tim moves, Cyndi seconds) that the town board renew the previous driveway permit.
  6. The commission recommends (Cyndi moves, Tim seconds) that the town board approve the driveway permit for Patrick Arlene McAlpine with the condition that the owners’ contractor coordinate with the town road superintendent taking measures for installing the road ditch culvert near a seep area. The commission recommends a 40‑foot long culvert with end walls that is at least 20 inches in diameter and 24 inches if possible to minimize the potential that seeping groundwater will freeze in the winter and block the culvert during runoff periods. The commission further recommends that a base of no less than 2‑minus gravel underlay the driveway and pad gravel in order to assure load-bearing capacity and stability on a clay slope. The commission recommends that the driveway be an “outsloped” configuration without any culverts west of the road ditch so that the existing “sheet flow” of surface water runoff will not become concentrated and will not be cause gullying. While there is a need for trees to be removed from 6 feet on either side of the driveway base, natural ground cover should be retained downslope of the driveway so that rills and gullies will not form in the slope and increase sedimentation of the trout stream. Any bare soil exposed during construction needs to be revegetated as soon as possible. The town likely will need to install erosion control measures in the road ditch to prevent sedimentation of the trout stream. With these measures the proposed driveway should meet the roadbed and turnaround requirements of the ordinance (Sect.4); meet the comprehensive plan policies regarding the erodibility of clay soils (8.2a, pp.7‑22 & 8‑24), and retain natural vegetation to maintain the area’s scenic character (8.1.e).
  7. The commission recommends (Cyndi moves, Tim seconds) that the town board approve the driveway permit for Hans & Lauren Dahl. The existing driveway on the north and east sides of the current pole building will meet the roadbed and turnaround requirements of the driveway ordinance (Sect.4) to serve the new pole building. The location southeast of the existing building retains the wooded character of the forestry district (8.1.e).
  8. Kim mentioned that the draft update of the Bayfield County Comprehensive Plan is now available for public comment. There will be a set of three open houses to present the plan to the public. The first will be on Wednesday, September 13 from 5:00‑7:00 P.M. in the County Board Room of the county courthouse. Kim will send the link to the draft plan. This update can provide much of the new information that will be needed for the update of the Town Comprehensive Plan. Kim thinks that some of the corrections to the map of Existing Land Use in the plan may have been put in incorrectly. In any case, the town board should submit comments on the plan.
  9. Kim said that it may be helpful to assemble information about the volumes and characteristics of the clay and topsoil required for maintenance of the closed landfill. This would provide the basis for a request for bids to make the repairs. Cyndi will ask her husband Doug Belanger if he would volunteer to help estimate the volumes required for the work.
  10. The commission selected Sunday, October 1, 2023 6:00 P.M. for the next meeting if site visits are required.

  11. The meeting adjourned at 7:35 P.M. (Cyndi moves, Tim seconds).

Draft submitted by: Kenneth Bro, Chair, Town of Washburn Plan Commission (September 12, 2023).

Plan Commission Report

The commission recommends that the town board renew approval of the driveway permit for Owen & Gilbert Schwartz. The commission recommends that the town board approve the driveway permit for Hans & Lauren Dahl. The commission recommends that the town board approve the driveway permit for Patrick & Arlene McAlpine subject to coordinating culvert installation with the town road superintendent for a 40’x>20” culvert and minimum 2’‑minus base under the surface gravel, and outsloped driveway design to retain natural sheet flow of surface runoff. The town may need to take additional measures to address erosion in the road ditch.