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City files appeal over new watershed district boundaries

The city of Woodbury has officially filed an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals against changes the state Board of Waters and Soil Resources (BWSR) made earlier this year to the boundaries of two local watershed districts.

Last week city council members met in a session closed to the public and media following a regularly scheduled council meeting to discuss the litigation. City officials could not comment on the specifics of the meeting, said Woodbury city administrator Clint Gridley.

In May the BWSR made the decision to officially dissolve the Lower St. Croix Watershed Management Organization and incorporate the area into the existing South Washington and Valley Branch watershed districts.

The new boundaries means the South Washington Watershed District, which includes most of Woodbury and Cottage Grove, will absorb all of Denmark Township. The change also expands the number of representatives on the South Washington Watershed District from six to seven members.

The city opposed those changes and in April sent a petition to the BWSR objecting to the boundary changes, which were endorsed by Washington County just weeks earlier.

The city's petition included its preference that any new boundaries between the Valley Branch and South Washington watershed districts should be along the naturally occurring hydrological divide between the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, which would put portions of Denmark Township in both watershed districts.

The city's appeal maintains the new watershed district boundaries were drawn up based on political considerations, Gridley said.

The city has also maintained the BWSR never gave the city the chance to participate in the boundary process.

The city is also concerned the new watershed district boundaries will impact the proportionality of watershed district taxes on Woodbury residents.

For more information on the Valley Branch Watershed District and South Washington Watershed District go to: http://www.vbwd.org/ and http://www.swwdmn.org

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