WALKER -- The Cass County Board voted Tuesday to accept a bid to prepare a Highway 371 corridor land use management plan for Cass and Crow Wing counties.
The accepted bid is from Dahlgren, Sharldow and Uban Inc.; Landecker and Associates Inc.; Maxfield Research Group Inc.; and SEH Inc.
Environmental Service Director Paul Fairbanks said costs from three bidding groups ran close to the same, but the winning group offered a proposal to treat sections of the highway through the two counties as separate neighborhoods.
They also proposed to complete the work in half the time of the other bidders and proposed to do market research on use of the corridor, Fairbanks said.
Minnesota Department of Transportation proposes to spend some of its money to do a Highway 371 study that will parallel the study area the counties will cover, Fairbanks said.
The counties' study will focus on development and land uses, while the MnDOT study will focus on access and highway traffic, he said.
People who must replace a private sewer system under county zoning ordinances when property title transfers occur must place funds for the project in escrow if the transfer occurs during the winter.
Fairbanks asked the board to consider designating a county-authorized financial service to hold those funds, because a few people have abused the system, setting up a paper escrow account rather than actually setting aside money.
Board members asked for more information on specific abuses before requiring the change.
The board decided no surcharge will be required of applicants when the Environmental Services Department sets a special meeting or meeting closer than Walker to the proposed work site.
Holding meetings closer to applicants and neighbors, the board decided, is a public service the county should provide without surcharge.
Fairbanks said the department does ask for additional charge if an applicant wants a special meeting to speed the application process. That, he said, is at the applicant's request, not a departmental decision.
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