Homeowners outside Brandon voice concern over land purchase for water tower

By  | 

BRANDON, S.D. (KSFY) - Homeowners northeast of Brandon are voicing concerns over a potential land purchase for a proposed water tower set outside of city limits.

The land, which belongs to Randy Nelson, is just over an acre at the corner of Chestnut St. and E. Redwood Blvd. northeast of the city.

Benjamin Aaker, who lives down the street, sued the Minnehaha County Commission earlier this year after it approved a conditional use permit to build a water tower on the property, that had been previously denied by the Planning Commission.

"I brought evidence to them that I believe there is a 17-20 percent drop in property values near a water tower," Aaker said.

The tower won't benefit Aaker or his neighbors because they live outside city limits and are hooked up to Minnehaha County Rural Water. Two planning commissioners who voted against the permit cited the tower's proposed location outside of town as their reason.

Aaker said the City of Brandon had other options of where to build.

"They want to spend $6.5 million on two water towers," Aaker said. "There are actually two other sites that were evaluated. The site that I believe would be the best is approximately a half of a mile north of the site proposed now. The reason that the city of Brandon is opposed, I believe, that they believe it costs too much more and the cost is $200,000.

And the purchase agreement is raising some eyebrows.

"Brandon is attempting to purchase one acre of land for $60,000 dollars from a former city employee," said neighbor Jess Elofson. "Now we finally got it out of them that they did not do a land appraisal for this purchase."

Nelson is married to a former employee of the City of Brandon who retired several years ago. An email from City Attorney Lisa Murso to Brandon homeowner Tim Wakefield, Jr. confirmed that the city did not have the 1.17 acres of land up for purchase, appraised.

A closing date for the purchase was moved up from March of next year to potentially sometime this month and many want answers about why things are moving so quickly when they feel action of water supply and quality should be the priority instead.

"Brandon doesn't have a water storage problem, Brandon doesn't even have water enough to fill up the 250,000 gallon water tower that they have presently," Elofson said. "This water tower they want to build is 1.25 million gallons."

The city is still on an indefinite even-odd water ban that dates back to this summer. The Comprehensive Water Study completed by city engineering contractor Stockwell Engineers in 2013 said the two aquifers and current wells the city is using are being overpumped. On Tuesday, City Councilman Don Wells said he wants to explore other water sources.

"We need to look at the 20 and 30-year mark from today -- are we able to sustain pulling quality water out of these aquifers?" Wells said. "What I've been told is that that might not be the case."

And some say if other city councilors, elected officials and staff don't get on board soon ...

"There are the rumors going around that there's more than one way to clean out a City Council and you don't have to wait until the next election," Elofson said.

Some complaints about the proposed 149-foot, 1.25 million gallon water tower were that a tower that large doesn't even exist in Sioux Falls. KSFY News reached out to the City of Sioux Falls, which says it operates three water towers that are taller and have a higher capacity than the proposed towers in Brandon, and that it also connects to a Lewis and Clark Water operated tower on 85th Street that holds three million gallons of water.

Stay with KSFY News as we continue to follow this story.