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City to pursue legal action against family reunion with too many tents, campers

Web posted July 22, 2014
By Kate Perkins, Northland Press Correspondent

The Crosslake City Council decided unanimously that it will pursue an injunction against a family on Cross Lake whose annual family reunion violates city code by having too many campers and tents on the property.

At its meeting Monday, July 14, the council debated whether or not to enforce a part of the city’s ordinance, which states that a maximum of two temporary structures is allowed on a property at one time.

The city’s planning and zoning department received a complaint on July 7 for the property in question, which belongs to Don Bordsen. Both the city’s planning and zoning and the city police department visited the residence, and the planning and zoning department noted two tents and four campers at the property.

Chris Pence, zoning administrator, noted that the Bordsens were sent a letter in 2013 notifying them of the ordinance and that they were in violation of the city’s code that year as well.

City attorney Brad Person told the council that by getting an injunction, any future violations of the ordinance by the Bordsens would be considered a violation of court order.

Person told the council that it should decide whether or not the ordinance was appropriate for the city, then either enforce the ordinance or change it. He said if the council pursues legal action, it will need to enforce consistently moving forward. He was also hesitant to offer a final cost for the injunction and any legal action that followed.

“If you think this (violation) is a dime a dozen in town, you either hope this changes behavior for everybody or you’re going to have a lot of legal bills,” Person said.

Council member Mark Wessels said that it wasn’t the city’s job to be “playground referee,” referencing the disagreement between the two neighbors. “It’s our job to enforce the ordinances,” he said.

“I look at some of this as being a civil issue,” said council member John Moengen. "Even if you didn’t have campers, if you have 40 people having a party and creating a disturbance, that’s disrespectful.”

Police chief Robert Hartman said that the Bordsens’ reunion does not present a public safety issue.

“As far as public safety, we’ve never had an issue,” Hartman said. “This is a family that’s been doing a family reunion for many years.”

The council decided to pursue the injunction unanimously. Council member Steve Roe was absent from the meeting.

After the council’s vote, Les Bordsen, son of Don Bordsen, spoke to the council during public forum. He said the family has had its reunion every year for more than 40 years, and it only became a problem in the past four years, and only with the "neighbor to the east,” but not with any other neighbors. They’d had several verbal run-ins with the neighbor to the east in recent years.

Les Bordsen said that when planning and zoning spoke to them on the property and asked them to remove their tents and campers, Les Bordsen said that they were on vacation and didn’t have plans to pack up and leave.

In his complaint against the Bordsens, the neighbor to the east says that Bordsens threatened his dog. The Bordsens denied making any threats. When Les Bordsen visited city hall to speak with planning and zoning and obtain a police report on the matter, he read in the police report that the neighbor to the east claimed he had his concealed carry permit and planned to use it, as his dog’s life had been threatened.

Les Bordsen said that after reading that part of the report, they packed up their belongings and left.

The Crosslake Police Department report in the issue names the complainant as Mark LaFon. It states that LaFon told the officer that because he feared for his dog’s safety, he would have to carry his gun. He then showed the officer his permit to carry. The police report also states that LaFon had told the officer that he was the one who wrote the ordinance limiting the number of allowed temporary structures to two.

At the council meeting, the Bordsens expressed disappointment in the council’s decision to pursue an injunction.

“I’m not saying we won’t pursue legal action, but if you tell us that we can no longer celebrate at the lake as a family, we will not do so.” Bordsen told the council, later saying, “To say, after 40 years of coming up here, that we can’t celebrate with the family is just a little harsh.”

Public Safety
The Crosslake Police Department reported 195 calls to service in June. Most notably, those included 65 traffic warnings, 2 traffic citations, one traffic arrest, 22 alarms, 18 EMS, seven animal complaints, seven hazards in the road, four thefts and 22 agency assists.

For Mission Township, the department reported 37 calls to service, including 23 traffic warnings, six traffic citations, one traffic arrest, one death and two alarms.

The fire department reported 25 incidents in June, including 16 medical assists, one rescue, one building fire, one gas leak, one power line down/trees on the road, three good intent calls and one false alarm.

In other business July 14, the council:
- Put a moratorium on enforcement of the city’s outdoor sales ordinance. The city’s ordinance currently states that any outside sales, display and/or equipment rental shall require a conditional use permit (CUP). Realizing that at least 30 businesses were in violation of the ordinance, the council decided it will not enforce the ordinance for nine months in order to review the ordinance and make any necessary changes. A CUP fee that Reed’s Market had paid for outdoor plant sales this summer was refunded.

- Refunded a portion of Mike Stone’s CUP fee. City staff determined the cost involved in staff time and mailings involved in Stone’s CUP, then subtracted that amount from the $500 fee. Deciding the cost was $200, $300 was refunded to Stone by unanimous council vote.

- Learned that trail rides at the community center are available every Wednesday at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 12 p.m. Reservations are recommended. The record for deer sighted on the ride is three, but each ride attempts to break the record.

- Agreed to an easement for an area of parking lot at the corner of County Roads 3 and 66, in front of Andy’s. The Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the land, granted the city an easement to maintain, install, construct, repair, remove or upgrade the property. The city wished to purchase the property, but has not been able to do so.

- Heard that the annual library book sale will be July 31-Aug. 2. The library is seeking volunteers to help with the sale. Anyone willing to help can contact the library directly.

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