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Douglas County Board Meeting November 7 2023

Posted: 11/08/2023

Author: Julie Anderson

Category: County Board, Departments

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Douglas County now has an ordinance prohibiting the use of cannabis and cannabis derived products in public places. Public places do not include private residences, private property if authorized by the owner, or premises licensed for on-site consumption.  Commissioners approved the ordinance at their November 7 meeting following a public hearing. Public places include, but are not limited to, any public park, beach, pier, trail, street, alley, parking lot and any enclosed indoor area used by the general public. The ordinance will be in effect within the legal boundaries of Douglas County with the exception of cities or townships that have adopted their own ordinance establishing standards for public use of cannabis. The penalty for violating this ordinance is a petty misdemeanor with a fine up to $300. The complete ordinance can be found here

Social Services

Director Laurie Bonds asked commissioners to approve a number of annual contracts which provide services to the residents of Douglas County. They include the following.

Central Minnesota Mental Health Center provides detox services, specifically health assessment and medical withdrawal surveillance and protection of the client, screening for substance use disorder, counseling sessions and care coordination. The county will pay a daily fee of $1,000 per client.  The facility is located in Waite Park, Minnesota.

Minnesota Department of Human Services Behavioral Health Division which will pay for the services performed by county staff for the mental health screenings, assessments, and referrals for children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Lakes Country Service Cooperative 2024 membership agreement.

West Central Minnesota Communities Action Program Plus Kids which provides a safe exchange and supervised parenting for families in need.

Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program (CEP) for providing services under the Minnesota Family Investment Program including the Diversionary Work Program. This program is intended to divert applicants from public assistance when possible and to encourage rapid movement into employment.

Douglas County Developmental Achievement Center to provide services to developmentally disabled persons.

REM Central Lakes, Inc. to provide semi-independent living services.

Public Works

County Engineer and Public Works Director Tim Erickson asked for and received the county board’s support for four local road improvement projects. The jurisdictions applying are:

  • City of Forada for Forada Beach Road
  • Alexandria Township for 50th Avenue SE
  • Carlos Township for improving Pike Road NE
  • Osakis Township for improving Smith Lake Road SE



Vicki Doehling asked commissioners to allow her to set aside in escrow any excess funds derived from the sale of tax forfeited properties in Douglas County. This follows a court decision in Hennepin County that addressed whether a county can retain the excess value of property above the tax debt. The Minnesota Legislature is expected to take up this issue and provide further guidance. Commissioners allowed Doehling to set aside any excess funds until the Legislature acts.

Land and Resource Management

Director Dave Rush asked commissioners to accept its allocation from the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) Natural Resources Block Grant. The county accepted the following program funds.

  • Local Water Management $16,487
  • Wetland Conservation Act $29,544
  • Septic Treatment Systems $21,200
  • Septic Treatment Systems Upgrade $32,703
  • Local Water Management $16,487
  • Wetland Conservation Act $29,544
  • Shoreland $11,664


Commissioners also approved the county feedlot program entering into a 2-year work plan agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Under this agreement the county feedlot coordinator agrees to fulfill a workplan that includes the county having an inspection strategy for its 247 feedlots to identify pollution hazards and determine feedlot compliance with discharge standards, rules, and permit conditions. The workplan will also be used to ensure feedlot owners in the county are inspected and properly register and comply with permit goals, complaint response, and staffing levels. This agreement provides Douglas County with $45,000 in funding annually from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Rush presented, for informational purposes only, an Environmental Assessment Worksheet on a project to construct a 40-megawatt solar electrical generation facility. This facility will be on 241 acres in Lake Mary Township. Rush explained the location of the proposed solar project is south of I-94 and west of Highway 29. It’s strategically located near an electrical substation which allows it to be connected to the power grid. He also explained newer technology is providing more efficient solar panels that move to better track the sun. There is an open public comment period until November 27. Comments can be submitted in writing or by email to Dave Rush. There will also be a public meeting on Tuesday, November 14 at 6:45 p.m. That meeting will be held in Conference Room C of the Douglas County Courthouse.

The project, according to the developers, will be on land that is fenced for both security and minimal visual impact to neighbors. The land under the solar panels will be seeded with native species which will be mowed and trimmed. The project is expected to last 25 years after which the owners will remove all equipment and return the land to its pre-existing condition.

Commissioners expressed concern about the disposal of the solar equipment. The applicant’s decommissioning plan includes a contract with a solar panel recycling company that ensures the panel equipment is fully recycled and results in zero landfill waste.

This will not be the county’s first solar project. There are solar panels on land on the east side of the county.

Douglas County Board

County Commissioners approved documents needed to move forward with a purchase of land that involves the county, the city of Alexandria, and the Douglas County Agricultural Association.  They approved the Development Agreement for the improvement project which is called “Douglas County Fairgrounds”. It details the timeline of the proposed improvements.

The next board meeting will be November 30 at 5 p.m. followed by the annual budget hearing which begins at 6 p.m. All board meetings take place at the Douglas County Administration Building located at 821 Cedar Street in Alexandria.


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