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DIY road work will stay put in Thomson Township

A do-it-yourself expansion of part of Kangas Road will remain intact after the Thomson Township board of supervisors 4-1 vote last Thursday.

Resident Al Bottila doubled the width of a portion of the road near his property by laying material in the east ditch. At the April 4 township meeting, when the board considered digging up the extension, supervisor Tony Compo and township attorney Dave Pritchett said they both inspected the site and said it looked fine.

"You're putting the township at risk in my opinion," said Terry Hill, the lone vote against a motion Compo made to leave the extension intact.

"I can't see spending money to make something worse than what it is," Compo said.

Bottila said he was pleased with the board's decision.

"I just hope they're done coming after me," he said.

The township resident has worked as a truck driver and also has a bulldozer and backhoe. He said the road had no shoulder before and he widened it so he could move his equipment without damaging the road itself, and for four-wheeler travels.

Prior to the vote, an extensive back-and-forth ensued between township employees and board members over the safety of the project and the precedent that may have been set.

Public works supervisor Jonathan Bouvine and Hill shared concern that the decision could be seen as precedent for other residents to do projects on public roads and rights of way. To that point, Ruth Janke said while she agrees "to an extent," she doesn't see any safety issue since the extension is on a dead-end road which sees little traffic.

Josh Evans, an assistant engineer with AE2S, said not knowing the materials Botilla used and whether they meet Minnesota Department of Transportation standards is cause for concern.

"Heaven forbid in the winter time with the town's crew plowing or someone uses that and it gives way. That could be a pretty significant safety hazard to town staff and a liability," Evans said.

Pritchett suggested the potential for an arrangement where Bottila would foot the bill for repairs if his handiwork fails, but such an arrangement was not decided at the meeting.

Salt and sand pile

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found Thomson Township to be in non-compliance with its storm sewer system permit due to the location of a salt and sand pile at the public works garage.

In a memorandum to the township, AE2S said the township should take reasonable steps to minimize impacts on human health and the environment. AE2S representatives at the meeting said a qualifying temporary solution includes moving the pile to an impermeable surface, such as a parking lot, and covering it with a tarp. A solution could be finding storage space when the township builds a new public works building.

The pile has already been removed, according to board discussion, and the township could give unused material back to the county. Pritchett said they would have to figure out what to do about the issue next year.