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Landowner favors 'common sense' route along Hwy. 40

WILLMAR -- A landowner who's denied access to sewer line surveyors favors a route along state Highway 40.

"They've got their own route, which is a better route for everybody involved -- the Highway 40 route -- because the city owns the majority of the land on the north side of Highway 40 all the way from the old airport to County Road 116,'' says Phillip Kvam of Willmar.

Kvam said the Highway 40 route would better serve industrial park businesses, Jennie-O Turkey Store and the new airport; would alleviate the need for easements; and would provide better access for maintenance.

Kvam opposes the city's decision to acquire easements from landowners along the proposed route, which follows 28th Avenue/30th Avenue Southwest between South First Street and County Road 116, where the plant will be built.

The proposed route would go through land owned by Kvam and others. Kvam has denied access to surveyors on his land between County Road 5 and County Road 116. The proposed route is located near County Ditch 46.

He said the pipeline cannot be maintained when farm fields are wet and when ditches overflow.

"Out there, how are you going to maintain it if it's flooded with water?'' he asked. "If you put it along Highway 40, that pipeline can be maintained rather than going into people's property. If it's up on Highway 40, they don't have to bother anybody.''

If something goes wrong with the pipeline, he said, wastewater would immediately enter County Ditches 10 and 46 and head to Raymond, Clara City and the Minnesota River within a day.

"I believe in common sense, and common sense is to put it on Highway 40, even if it costs more money, because in the long run it's going to cost less and there won't be any environmental problems that way either,'' he said.

Kvam said the proposed route has too many unknowns, including lost crop production due to construction, compaction and drainage problems.

"That's proven on other pipelines. They're putting this pipeline right in the bottom of the watershed where it could do the most damage to all the watershed, not only to me but to all the rest of the farmers all the way back to South Highway 71,'' he said.

Kvam said his reasons are thought out and said he's tried to resolve his concerns with the city. Kvam said his decision is not affected by the legal dispute between himself and the city over the city's acquisition of some of his land for the new airport.

"It's a separate issue. We're talking common sense here,'' he said.

"We want the city to proceed with their plans for the wastewater treatment plant, but not using the proposed route. Let them use their own property. That's what I'm saying and that's what the rest of the people are saying,'' he said.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150