INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 12, 2011, 10:20 PM

Exchanges heated at Harwood Diversion Meeting

Harwood, ND (WDAY TV) - The diversion channel north of the Maple River has changed. It's cheaper, and it affects less land parcels. That doesn't mean people are happy.

The diversion channel north of the Maple River has changed. It's cheaper, and it affects less land parcels. That doesn't mean people are happy.

More than 150 people attended tonight’s informational meeting at the Harwood Community Center. The room wasn't filled with an attitude of support, rather, like the upstream meetings, there was an overwhelming sense of disapproval.

Stuart Johnson - Farmer: “How is a young farmer going to expand in the future when virtually all the land is going to be taken up, first by the trade land then by the development land?”

Aaron Snyder – US Army Corps of Engineers: “All we can do is say that the law tells us we must pay fair market value. It tells us exactly how to pay that value, but we understand the concerns of you and all the farmers.”

It was a back and forth for much of the night. The new plan changes the diversion alignment. There will still be a control structure at the intersection of Cass County Road 22 and the Lower Rush River.

Now the diversion will head straight north for a few miles instead of flowing along the river. It's one of many changes north of the Maple River, but area farmers still want to talk about retention.

Aaron Snyder: ”This diversion project does have a large impact on the farmers here and throughout the area in the valley. However, if we were to store water it would have a greater impact on a greater amount of people.”

The new alignment will affect 62 parcels of land rather than the 70 under the preliminary path. The 5,000 less feet will mean a savings of almost $18 million. But changes in the alignment were not what people were concerned with tonight.

Keith Monson - Landowner: “I am losing one quarter section of land and one that I rent, and I am 300% against this. It is absolutely insane.”

But when it comes to the purchase of property, a precedent has already been set, one that doesn't account for future earnings.

John Albrecht: “The courts have decided that if the land is needed for public good, this is the process of how it will be acquired.”

If everything is streamlined, and congressional approval happens next year. The earliest real-estate acquisitions would take place is the fall of 2012. Construction would then start in spring 2013 with a completion date sometime in 2021.

Tags: