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Crosslake to review rural residential zoning

Web posted April 18, 2017
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

The Crosslake City Council chamber was filled with residents Monday April 10th to watch the Council address a wide-ranging agenda but most of the people attending were there to discuss a city zoning issue.

Crosslake resident John Keil would like to erect nine pole barn storage rental buildings in an area zoned Rural Residential-5 (RR5). The 300-foot long buildings would be located on a 19-acre plot north on Highway 3 near Crosswoods Golf Course. Keil told the Council his plan was to create around 200 public storage units for rent on the site RR5 zoning is for rural residential use of lots at least five acres in size. A number of residents who live near the location where Keil wants to build his storage/ rental units voiced their opposition to the Council.

Under the city’s zoning ordinance, the Planning and Zoning Commission can approve what’s known as Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) in areas where the intended use of a building or buildings do not fit the primary zoned purpose. Keil has made an application for a CUP to build his nine pole barn structures in the RR5 zoned area.

Even though Keil’s application has not yet received a hearing by the Planning and Zoning Commission, it has drawn the concern of neighbors and others who were on hand to speak in opposition at the Council meeting.

In the course of the discussion, several residents, city attorney Brad Person and several Council members made the point that it would be wise to look at the overall zoning picture of the city. The Council unanimously voted to direct staff to prepare language for an ordinance to declare a moratorium on RR5 Conditional Use Permits. The Council will vote on that ordinance language at a special meeting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 27 at City Hall.

“The ordinance will act as an interim ordinance for up to one year,” according to Planning and Zoning Supervisor Chris Pence. “This will give the Council time to review all of the land uses now included under current RR5 zoning” he said.

The Council will then discuss possible zoning ordinance changes to anticipate future housing and economic growth patterns in the city and how all that fits with the current update of the city’s comprehensive plan.

Street Project Bids
The Council received some good news regarding bids for the summer’s street improvement project. David Reese of Widseth Smith Nolting of Brainerd reported that the four bids for the project came in well below the engineering estimate of $697,673. The bids were: DeChantal Excavating, $527,031; Anderson Brothers Construction, $534,892; Tri-City Paving, $620,496; and Borden Excavating, $676,704.

No action was taken on accepting the bids pending settlement of several right-of-way issues on the project. The bids are firm for 60 days. Streets involved in the project include Anchor Point Road, Milinda Shores Road and Tamarack Road.

Support for School
The Council heard an update from several members of the Lake Foundation that is raising money to build a new school building on County Road 66 to be leased to the Crosslake Community School. Since the school is a charter school, it is prohibited from owning any building. The cost of the new school will be funded by the Lake Foundation.

Local taxpayers will not be impacted by any of the building costs. State and federal laws allow a charitable organization like the Lake Foundation to enter into an arrangement with a local government unit to issue tax-exempt obligations and loan the proceeds to the charitable organization to finance capital expenditures. The Lake Foundation asked the Council to consider such an arrangement. The city would be merely a conduit and the money and repayment obligations would flow only between the bank and the foundation. The issuance of the notes would not affect the city’s credit rating on bonds it issues for municipal purposes.

The Council encouraged the Lake Foundation to take the necessary steps to finalize the arrangement.

New City Park
A city park project on the shores of Cross Lake that has been on the drawing board for 20 years took a step toward becoming a reality when the Council approved a recommendation from Parks and Recreation Director Jon Henke to spend up to $10,000 for the preliminary conceptual design of Perkins Road which would be key to developing South Bay Park. The vision of the Parks and Recreation Department is to create a special events park that will be available for rent for various gatherings. The rental income, rather than tax revenues, will be used to develop the park in the future.

The goal for this year is to secure the property needed for the road and trail and potentially the utilities along the road. A family is interested in donating the land needed for one section of the proposed road.

New Chief Endorsement
In a letter to the Council, Crosslake police officers Eric Swanson, Bobby Willard and Jake Maier expressed their support for Sergeant Erik Lee to become the next Chief of Police once current Chief Robert Hartman retires. “In short,” they wrote, “Sergeant Lee has the proven and demonstrable skills and the basis of knowledge that would ensure he would make a great Chief of Police for the city of Crosslake. We, the full time officers of Crosslake, would like to show our support for his appointment to this position.”

Mental Health Services
Log Church Pastor Mark Holmen told the Council that part of his congregation’s mission to give back to the community is to initiate new efforts to deal with mental health care in the city. He noted that there are currently no local facilities for dealing with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues and that the Log Church is offering its facilities to address this through a program of educational forums, support groups, counseling, training and providing resources.

In other business, the Council…
• Voted to include city retirees on the city’s health insurance program access to the fitness room at the Community Center;

• Heard an update on the Crosslakers project from Chair Bob Perkins.

•Approved purchase of a new police squad car at a cost of $26,312;

• Heard an update from City Attorney Person regarding letters he will be sending to residents on Anchor Point Road and Melinda Shores Road where street improvements are planned for this year but where the city currently does not have the required easements to proceed with the work. The letters will ask the residents to provide the easements through a legal process known as quiet title action used when it is impractical to contact the dozens of affected property owners individually.

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