Council OKs purchase of wetland credits


BROOKINGS – The Brookings City Council this week approved purchasing wetland credits as part of the Brookings Marketplace project.

“We’re at that stage where the Corps (of Engineers) is requiring that we have a plan and how we are going to replace the wetlands that we would be impacting on the site at the Brookings Marketplace,” said Mike Struck, director of Community Development.

The council approved entering into a contract with North Central Mitigation to purchase Wetland Functional Credit Units for wetlands located on the Brookings Marketplace property, the 26-acre property on the east side of Interstate 29, sometimes referred to as the DOT property because the city bought it from the state Department of Transportation for $1.6 million. The city has been trying to develop the land with commercial intentions for the past few years but has run into a snag with the wetlands.

“City staff and the consulting engineer have been working with the Corps of Engineers on a Section 404 Permit for the Brookings Marketplace project located north of Sixth Street and west of 34th Avenue,” according to a memo by Struck. The memo is attached to the agenda, available on the city’s website. 

“The City applied for the permit as there are 2.75 acres of wetlands impacting development potential in the middle of the site. The 2.75 acres of wetlands equates to 7.72 acres of Functional Credit Units. A Functional Credit Unit is a measurement of the quality of the wetland,” according to the attachment.

“What we’re buying credits to is a wetlands bank,” Struck said.

The city would pay $96,500 to North Central Mitigation upon receipt of a 404 permit, according to the attachment.

“The Corps of Engineers prefers mitigation is performed by purchasing credits through a wetland bank that has been established and approved by the Corps. In addition, the cost of acquiring land and constructing the wetland can be more expensive than purchasing the credits. Finally, if the City constructs the wetlands, a five-year monitoring period is required to ensure the wetland is created properly,” according to the attachment.

“Regardless of what we would do with this property, this would still have to be done, right?” asked Councilor Leah Brink.

“There was the potential that you could design around it, but with most of the discussions we’ve had as far as talking with the developers or potential retailers, it just posed a lot of issues to design around it,” Struck said, adding mitigation was the best option to maximize the land.

In other business, the council approved:

• A bid of $82,955 by Razor’s Edge for the city & county lawn care and snow removal services. The bid was within 1% of the engineer’s estimate of $82,500;

• A bid of $3,241,110 by Bowes Construction for the 20th Street South improvement project. The bid was approximately 16% lower than the engineer’s bid of $3,852,853. The city’s share of the project bid price is $2,769,877, and BMU’s share of the project is $471,233. The city’s share will meet the current amount budgeted of $2,815,582; however, the construction administration costs will utilize the savings from the overlay fund.

Contact Jodelle Greiner at [email protected]

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