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Observer Corps Report - 11/15/2018 Dakota County Planning Commission Meeting

Observer Corps reports are submitted by LWV Dakota County members that volunteer their time to observe and take notes at government meetings of interest to Dakota County residents. While we strive for accuracy, these observations may be incomplete or inaccurate in some respects.

Meeting Summary: John Mertens (Planning) presented the Vermillion River Greenway Master Plan and the Q&A was fairly typical.

An update was provided on County Board actions including the comprehensive plan, the Thompson County Park public engagement process, the groundwater plan, and park improvement projects. Kurt Chatfield, Steve Sullivan, and John Mertens answered any questions.

Road safety and traffic control at Cliff Road and Dodd Road and other park entrances was discussed. Concern and frustration was expressed by a district 4 commissioner. Some Commissioners expressed a sense of working in a vacuum with opinions not being passed on.

Better agendas was requested by several Commissioners. Several asked what the Board expects from them. Discussion related to the Planning Commission's work and how that directly implicates discussion and decisions by the Physical Development Committee was also debated by several commissioners. Kurt Chatfield said there is a formula set by the County Board to address two topics per meeting. That is when a deluge of comments and opinions flowed, especially since a district 5 commissioner reminded members that the tree meeting was cancelled this year.Important concerns shared by Planning Commission members are listed below:

1. Why are they not invited to the State of the County address?

2. Why are they not part of a planned work session?

3. Why are master plans so different in terms of engagement?

4. Why are some agendas so light on information?

5. Some members feel things are fine.

6. Recommendations for approval to the County Board are vague.

7. Kurt asked the members to tell the staff if their efforts are not being represented properly.

8.There was discussion about ways they can have broader input, and whether staff is not carrying the message properly to the County Board.

9. While they know the County Board determines the work plan, some feel more involvement is necessary on their part to be effective.

10. A district 2 commissioner believes they should better prioritize work sessions/meetings.

11. A district 1 commissioner has only attended three meetings, so he deferred to past work experience and what the published mission is for the group.

12.The Chair believes they are doing a good job. However, communication can be improved. He suggested a joint meeting.

13. Commissioners were asked to speak to their respective County Commissioners.

14. More engagement with the County Board and involvement with its 2019 planning was requested.

15. A district 7 commissioner attended a Physical Development Committee meeting and thought they were surprised to see a Planning Commission member there.

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