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Crosslake Council affirms land use authority in face of pending legislation that could limit local control

Web posted May 16, 2017
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

The Crosslake City Council has gone on record supporting its authority to make local decisions for its local residents in the face of proposed state legislation threatening that authority.

At the May 8 Council meeting, Public Works Director Ted Strand reported that the legislature is considering legislation that would allow unregulated access to city right-of-way land for installation of small cell wireless equipment and antenna systems. According to the League of Minnesota Cities, private wireless and cellular services would be the only for-profit unregulated industry allowed unfettered access to these public lands should the legislation pass. A fact sheet from the League states “Automatic approval provided by the legislation ties the hands of cities who are responsible for managing these public spaces and considering elements of public health, safety and aesthetics. The legislation would supersede many existing zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans that cities have enacted over the years.”

City Administrator Dan Vogt noted that the bill has yet to pass and added that Crosslake should have some control over its right-of-way land. Both Strand and City Attorney Brad Person said the city needs to have a right-of-way ordinance. “There are many reasons that is a good idea,” Person said. “This is one of them,” he said. Strand said he will work with the City Public Works Commission to research ordinance language.

Potential problems with city rightof- way use is apparently only one of several threats to local control from pending legislation. The League reports that more than two dozen bills have been introduced this year in the Minnesota Legislature that would restrict local decision making. In a letter to legislative leaders, the League and other local government organizations cited examples such as “legislation that would constrain local law enforcement authority, restrict a city’s ability to set local ordinances, and restrict a city’s ability to use certain fee structures.”

The Council unanimously passed a resolution to support local decision-making authority and oppose legislation that removes the ability for local elected officials to respond to the needs of their businesses and constituents.

Street Project Bid
The Council awarded the contract for this year’s street improvement project to DeChantal Excavating of Brainerd. Streets involved in the project include Anchor Point Road, Milinda Shores Road and Tamarack Road. The company’s low bid was $527,031 on a project engineers had estimated would cost $697,673. David Reese of the Widseth Smith Nolting Engineering firm in Baxter told the Council that he was verbally told that DeChantal was going to sub-contract the paving portion of the project to Anderson Brothers Construction of Brainerd.

Connectivity Workshop
Mike O’Connell of the Crosslakers group reported that the group, working with the Greater Lakes Association of Realtors (GLAR) has received a $15,000 grant from the National Association of Realtors and a $1,500 grant from GLAR to conduct a Connectivity Workshop June 12 and 13. On June 12, consultants from Blue Zones, an organization helping towns “get back on their feet”, will meet with a group of city staff, Crosslakers and GLAR members to walk the city. The next day, the public is invited to attend a Walkshop from 9 to 2:30 at Crosslake Lutheran Church. Participants will be led on a walking audit of a 1.5 mile area of Crosslake where they will discuss different walkability principles that could be applied to the area.

Tour of Bikes
Jon Henke, Director of Parks, Recreation and Library reported that over 1,000 bike riders will be in Crosslake on June 3 as part of the Tour of Lakes Bike Ride. In Crosslake, the tour will begin and end at the Community Center. He also publicly thanked volunteers who worked at the first of a series of monthly Library Book Sales, students from Pequot Lakes High School for helping to complete landscaping around the park grounds on the annual Day of Caring and volunteers who worked to get the library patio garden ready for the summer season.

In other business, the Council
• Approved an application for an on-sale brewer’s taproom license and special Sunday license for Steve Guttormson of 14 Lakes Craft Brewing Company on County Road 66;

• Appointed James Funk of Crosslake as an alternate member of the city’s Economic Development Authority;

• Adopted an ordinance changing the membership of the Personnel Commission by deleting reference to the general manager of Crosslake Communications (which the city has sold) and adding one non-union supervisory city employee;

• Approved an ordinance eliminating the existing Crosslake Communications Advisory Board section of the City Code now that the business has been sold;

• Granted permission to Public Works Director Strand to sell a number of city surplus items;

• Recessed the meeting until 5 p.m. on May 11 to discuss the scope of the upcoming wastewater treatment plant improvement project in light of several recent economic development proposals under consideration.

Crosslake-Mission Township

Mission Township has asked the City of Crosslake to discuss options for providing fire protection and emergency medical service coverage for the township. In a letter to Crosslake City Administrator Dan Vogt, Mission Township Supervisor Dave Hauser wrote “Given that the police coverage provided by the Crosslake Police Department works exceptionally well, we would like to pursue information regarding options that the City of Crosslake could offer for assistance with fire and EMS coverage. There is also an interest in Mission Township retaining the City of Crosslake to administer and manage our fire department”.

Hauser’s letter cited problems finding enough volunteers to provide fire and EMS coverage “specifically during daytime hours Monday through Friday”.

At its May 8 meeting the Crosslake Council agreed to send Vogt, Mayor Patty Norgaard, Councilman Dave Nevin and Fire Chief Chip Lohmiller on a fact finding meeting with officials in Mission Township.

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