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Crosslake Mayor Reacts to Complaint Withdrawal

Web posted July 20, 2021
By Paul Boblett, Editor

At the July 13, 2021 regular monthly meeting of the Crosslake City Council, Mayor David Nevin addressed Crosslake Police Chief Erik Lee’s statements from an article from the June 22 edition of the Northland Press. Nevin’s comments came at the end of the Mayor’s Report on the agenda.

“Chief Lee’s statement that the January 5th respectful workplace compliant was legitimate. That’s a quote he made in the article. The investigating officer, the county attorney, and two eyewitnesses that were present, all stated that there was no wrongdoing. Pretty profound that the police chief that wasn’t present for the incident makes this statement [on] the front page of the paper that the complaint was legitimate.

“I just have a really bad case of heartburn over that. It’s very disturbing to me and should be to all parties. We’ve got this respectful workplace thing going around here and this comes up in the front page of the paper. This was discussed in a closed meeting, and the fact that the article came out before the council had time to report their finding publicly is also very concerning to me. The only people present for that closed meeting were the City Administrator Mike Lyonais, City Attorney and the whole council. And I really would like to know how Chief Lee found his information.”

Nevin then asked Lee how he knew there was going to be no action.

Lee responded “I don’t think I alleged there was going to be no action, I said I think I felt I didn’t have confidence in the process.”

Nevin then ran through a timeline of events, “Council met on May 10 at their regular meeting, there was a Respectful Workplace complaint on May 11. Council met in closed session to discuss the complaint on June 14th, which was the next meeting. Your withdrawal was on June 22, in the Northland Press…. At the end of this meeting is the first opportunity that the City Attorney has had to come and address our closed meeting, so it’s really troubling to me how you withdrew that how the council was going to take no action on a meeting that has not been summarized yet.”

Lee responded by saying, “I based my letter on the fact that you were involved in the meeting. And if you’re the subject of the complaint and you’re involved in the meeting, that to me is a conflict of interest. Therefore I didn’t have any confidence in the process. Same as Mr. Kolstad’s complaint, in that [Nevin] and Ms. Seibert-Volz were involved, and, the subject of the complaint.  that gives me reason to believe that I don’t have confidence in the process and there is a conflict of interest.”

Nevin stated, “[Council member Marcia Seibert-Volz] and I were present during the other one, I was involved in yours, but before the involvement started, I recused myself and I said I cannot be involved in this. And the council said they want [my] input, and that’s how that happened.

We talk about this respectful workplace we have here, and to put this on the front page of the paper… legitimizes the first complaint that you were not present for. I just have a hard time with that.”

Nevin then asked if the council had any comment.

Council member John Andrews said to just let it be and move forward. Council member Aaron Herzog also stated that it’s time to move forward. Council member Dave Schrupp stated he agreed and there’s been “enough said and enough read”.

Seibert-Volz said she believed that what is said in closed session should not be discussed ever,  only the summary, and a withdrawn complaint that council already acted on then becomes private data. She added that council needs to be reminded that they cannot talk about what happened in a closed session and only the summary is public data.

Lee then told council that he made it very clear that he did not want any of his complaint involved, and kept the substance of his complaint private.

Public Safety
Council Accepted the resignation of Officer Adam Lane, and approved the hiring of part time police officer Adam Casanova to fill the open shifts due to the resignation of Officer Lane.

Chief Lee asked by Council why Officer Lane left the department and he responded by stating that it comes down to opportunity and wages. Lee said the department has lost two officers in the last three years to different jobs, adding that the city needs to become a place to stay rather than a place to train.

The Crosslake Police department reported 227 calls in June for Crosslake that included 64 traffic wordings, 33 EMS and 14 agency assists. There were 51 calls in Mission Township, including 28 traffic stops, seven citations and 3 driving complaints.

Crosslake Fire reported 39 incidents for the month of June that included 28 medicals and one grass/wildland fire. The year to date total is 229 calls for service.

Planning and Zoning

Council approved 30 day comment period for recommendations from the Planning and Zoning Commission for proposed changes to the land use ordinance.

Changes would be to the following: Land Use Tables: adding Accessory Structures greater than 2500 sq. ft. To require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in Residential Districts; Removing CUP for Commercial Storage Buildings/Storage Unit rental Structures from Residential Districts; and adding "Event Centers greater than 10,000 sq. ft. in RR5” as a CUP in RR5 and all commercial districts.

Minimum Required Parking Spaces: adding Event Center - I space for each four seats based on Maximum Design Capacity; and Arrangements for additional parking are required if larger events are held outdoors, beyond the indoor capacity established by the fire code.

Accessory Structures: Change Building height to 24’ maximum; Adding Accessory Structures - Maximum Wall height to 12’ for parcels less than 4 acres and 16’ for parcels greater than 4 acres; and Accessory Structures with a footprint of greater than 2500 sq. ft. shall require a CUP.

Definitions: Add Event Center definition.

Moonlite Bay Sewer Extension Assessment Approved

Council approved a recommendation from the Public Works Commission for assessments on Sewer Extension to Moonlite Bay. The assessments to a single family residential properties will be set to $7000 and Commercial Assessments will be set at $0.35 per square foot. The assessment payments will be spread over 20 years.

There is also a requirement for property owners that have a septic system less than ten years old to connect before their system is 11 years old. Any property owner with a septic system older than ten years will have one year to connect.

Public Forums

• Resident Jerome Volz addressed council concerning offensive graffiti on the Daggett Bridge. Since the bridge is maintained by the county, they are the responsible party to clean it up.

Police Chief Erik Lee said he filled out an ICR and sent it to the County, and assumed they had taken care of it. Public Works Director Ted Strand told council that he had received three calls about it, and contacted the County. He said he would contact them again.

• Resident Jeffrey Pfaff asked council to add to a future agenda, licensing VRBO properties. He said he could fill the council chambers with concerned neighbors of his who are dealing with parking issues, lewd behavior, dogs running free, and after hours watercraft operation. He said they have filed a couple complaints with the county but that the city can step up and do something.

It was noted that the County has a VRBO policy currently in place, and the city was going to wait a year from January 2021 to see how the county implemented plan was working before moving forward decide if this as something they needed to take on.

Chief Lee state that there have been a few complaints with VRBOs this summer.

• Tom Swenson for the Public Works Commission requested that commission recommendations be read into the public record during public hearings.

June 14 Closed Meeting Summary
City Attorney Brad Person gave an oral summary of the Closed Meeting of June 14, 2021 to discuss Respectful Workplace Complaints.

He stated that two separate Respectful Workplace complaints were received and acknowledged, and there was quite a bit of discussion, in the end consensus was that actions were reviewed and considered, but no formal action was taken.

A motion Seibert-Volz was passed by a 4-0 vote to confirm Person’s summary. Mayor Nevin abstained.

Schrupp added that even though a decision can be made there is no real action council can take regarding respectful workplace complaints.

In Other Council Action:
• Accepted a donation from Stephanie Nuemann of four new AED units for the Police Department;

• Approved an application from Lisa Parsons to vacate the public Right of Way (ROW) between 14095 and 14096 Norway Trail with a conservation easement 75’ from the OHW;

• Tabled the application from Mike and Lisa Rocca to vacate the public Right of Way at 12204 Manhattan Point Boulevard;

• Placed a moratorium on all ROW vacations and approved the formation of a committee to determine the criteria for future ROW vacations;

• Approved the appointment of Joel Knippel as an alternate to the Planning and Zoning Commission to fill the seat of Dale Melberg, who recently passed away. Council expressed their sympathy and appreciation to the Melberg family;

• Approved pay application #11 from Hytec Construction in the amount of $270,103.05;

• Tabled Change Order No. 079439.09 for mold mitigation in the amount of $9,352.70 until more documented information is made available to council;

• Approved the purchase of blinds for the Firehall in the amount of $2,869;

• Approved the TIF Reimbursement of $5,995.28 to Midwest Properties.

• Learned that there is free nitrate water testing on Friday, July 30th between 10 am and 2 pm at City Hall by Crow Wing County Soil and Water Conservation District.

• Heard an update on Respectful Workplace Policy forms. There are still 15 forms that have not been signed and returned to City Hall.

• Approved a Resolution in support of Crosslake as a Heart Safe Community;

• Approved the drafting of an encroachment notice for the removal of a shed from a public ROW;

• Approved two Park Dedications, cash in lieu of land in the amount of $1500 for the WLJ subdivision, and $16,500 for the Haglund subdivision;

• Approved a recommendation from the Public Works Commission to require a sewer hookup fro the propriety located at 36868 Brook Street by November 14, 2023 as their septic system is now 9 years old, and that usage fees be billed after that same date;

• Tabled a Public Works Commission recommendation to restore a stairway at the Hillcrest Beach Right-of-Way that was removed by an adjacent landowner. The issue was sent back to Public Works for fact finding;

• Mayor Nevin announced a “state of the city” public meeting at 6 pm on Thursday, July 15th at the Community Center, so a motion was passed to hold a special meeting as a quorum may be present.

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