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July 18, 2019

7/11/2019 2:02:00 PM
Center City council hears about Pioneer Lake, again

The depth of Pioneer Lake is being brought up again to the Center City Council, despite a survey last season of riparian property owners that demonstrated zero consensus for lake level tinkering.  Plus, at several meetings on the lake level held last year, the DNR Regional Hydrologist had explained the city council can’t do anything about lake levels, and lakes are state regulated.

Still, Center City council members, with Jill Behnke absent, discussed the lake as City Attorney Ted Alliegro advised council to keep any and all interaction concerning this issue inside of council chambers.

The Chisago County Press publishes lake levels for several area lakes, including Pioneer, provided by the staff with the Chisago Lakes Lake Improvement District.

Pioneer last week was at 903.3 feet above sea level. Its “high” in 2018 was 903.3.  Pioneer and North and South Center lakes are at the “top” of the Chisago Chain.  They fill, and topography dictates that they drain into North Lindstrom and South Lindstrom, then to Chisago Lake and to Green Lake-- at the “bottom” of the chain.  The lake level control system includes outflow into the vast Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area lowlands from the downstream outlet of Little Green Lake.

A resident (not identified) also submitted a photo of algae on top of Pioneer Lake for “the record.”  

Apparently some residents are upset with Pioneer Lake water quality too.  The man attending the meeting last week didn’t say what the vegetation was, nor was the photo presented with any background information.
If Pioneer Lake has visible growth, it would be similar to what agencies are reporting all over Minnesota-- lakes are experiencing epoor water quality from heavy rains washing nutrients into lakes.

No action was taken by the council.

Firefighter pension benefits were increased by council unanimously,  effective as of January 2020.  The payout goes to $1,700 per year of vested service upon filing for retirement.  It was $1,500.

Firefighters also sought a liquor license for during Center City Days. The organization wants to be able to serve drinks like bloody Marys at the pancake breakfast, etc.

Council was supportive, passing a motion granting the liquor license contingent on state authorization and insurance conditions being met.  Mayor Mark Wolcott voted no saying there are bars in town for festival goers who want liquor.

Fire Department representative Jim Marxer informed council there is a July 24 meeting of a committee working with Chisago County on a new permanent ARMER radio agreement.

Center City earlier approved the 2019 interim contract allowing the city’s emergency responders’ subscription to the system to remain in effect.

Marxer explained to council the department will not make final payments on the new fire hall project or close out the bond process that was old business on the council agenda.  There’s an issue with inspections finding certain materials were not included in the project,  but were stipulated in the contractor agreement.  According to Marxer the issue is not affecting code compliance, but the material was specifically spelled out.  

The fire hall will not be complete enough for a full open house during Center City Days.  There will be bingo, etc.  there but the kitchen needs work, the historic engine display area is not done and other punch list items remain unaddressed.

Council set a special meeting for 9 a.m. Thursday,July 11 to confer with the city engineer and a financing consultant on borrowing for street repair projects.  A quote came in a few weeks ago and budgeted expenses  fell short of the unexpectedly high bid amounts.

manhole, on the edge of North Center Lake that council was told was borderline being flooded,  has been fixed.  Council met in special session June 17 and Shoreline Landscaping was awarded the project with a bid of $15,500 of three price quotes council reviewed.

The sleeve surrounding the access cover was raised and infiltration points were addressed and the structure is stabilized.

The council also granted five variances and a conditional use permit for a homeowner on historic Summit Ave to build a 748 square foot garage; and leave another auxiliary structure there (CUP) Combined accessory structure square footage on site will total 851 square feet.  

The project at 102 Summit will bring impervious surface to 32 percent, an upward variance from the 25 percent coverage allowed.

The 15 foot height rule was allowed to go to 23.5 feet. Setbacks from lot lines were reduced.

The Historic District requires structures to comply with certain guidelines.  The applicant told council the new garage will look just like the garage on the lot next door to the south.

A representative for a solar energy company spoke during the three minute open microphone segment to request time on the council agenda in August,  for  a presentation on community solar and a “sign-up session” in Center City at a future date.  Council told Mitch Trounbley that he could get on an agenda and the request could be explained in detail.

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