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Davison County rejects Morris Equipment drainage permit, but move called ‘irrelevant’

The Davison County Drainage Board voted Tuesday night to deny a permit for a drainage project near an equipment dealership that recently opened in Mitchell — but that won’t stop the water from flowing.

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Morris Inc., a Fort Pierre-based company that owns Morris Equipment, recently opened an 11,000-square-foot equipment dealership at 1210 S. Ohlman St., just south of the Ramada Inn. Morris Inc. applied for a county drainage permit because of a retention pond and pump system being built near the new dealership to deal with drainage issues at the site.

Despite the board’s rejection, the drainage project can move ahead because it sits entirely within Mitchell’s city limits, according to Davison County Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeff Bathke.

“There isn’t anything that the board can do,” he said. “Their decision was really irrelevant.”

Five landowners who claim they may be affected by the drainage project attended the board’s meeting Tuesday night, according to Bathke. Their concerns stem from an issue that occurred in 1989, when heavy rains fell on the area in question and caused water damage to landowners downstream, he said.

Earlier this year, the Mitchell City Council approved the creation of a $200,000 tax increment financing district to pay for the drainage project near Morris Equipment. The company acquired a bank loan to fund the TIF district, and the new and higher taxes in the district will be used to pay off the loan.

In a TIF district, financing is issued for infrastructure improvements, a drainage project in this case, to aid development in the district. New taxes — or higher taxes, in some cases — are then captured for an agreed upon period of years to pay off the initial financing.

The matter came before the board because the water does eventually drain into the county, Bathke said.

“It was just a formality,” he said. “The city can still drain their pond.”

According to Morris Inc.’s drainage permit application, the water that collects in the retention pond will be pumped into an 8-inch pipe and then into a culvert that flows beneath Ohlman Street.

The water will travel a winding, mile-and-a-half route before reaching the affected landowners’ property, Bathke said.

“With an 8-inch pipe after a mile and a half, there just won’t be any water left,” he said.

The pond was designed to slow the water flowing downstream toward the affected landowners, Bathke said.

“In the past there was no pond,” he said. “It will hold it for an extra day.”