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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

home : news : news
August 8, 2020

7/2/2020 3:24:00 PM
Chisago City shortens Ki Chi Saga Days celebration

Despite the limitations imposed by Covid 19, Chisago City hopes to offer a scaled down version of its annual Ki-Chi-Saga Days celebration. Barring unforeseen obstacles, a celebration will take place Aug. 22 and 23.

“I’ve been meeting with city staff, and we feel fairly confident we can hold Ki-Chi-Saga Days, but it will look very different,” City Administrator John Pechman told the city council June 23.  “We’ve eliminated the parade and all of the kids’ activities and shortened the events in the park to noon to 6 p.m. both days.”  No use of the children’s play equipment or public water fountains will be allowed.

To provide appropriate social distancing, the number of vendors in the park will be limited to 30, down drastically from more than 100.  Two bands will perform each day on separate stages created and cordoned off on either end of the park and seating areas will be socially distanced.

Still on the revised Ki-Chi-Saga Days agenda are citywide garage sales, the hunt for Moberg’s bike hidden horn and the fireworks display.

Pechman said fireworks will be offered from a platform on Chisago Lake rather than at Paradise Park where gathering of crowds will be limited.

Pechman said Frankie’s Bait would still like to offer its fishing contest and possibly the kids’ fishing contest, but a decision has not yet been made on those events. A final decision on whether or not to proceed with the modified Ki-Chi-Saga Days celebration will be made on Aug. 1.

In other business, the council:
- appointed election judges for the Aug. 11 primary and Nov. 3 general elections, and, at the suggestion of Administrator Pechman, voted to raise their pay from $10 to $11 an hour. Pechman and city employee Paula Oehme will serve as head election judges, so Pechman suggested the funds previously budgeted for the head judge be redistributed among the other judges. They are: Sandra Sproat, Gary Maslowski, Julie Redpath, Kim Kildahl, Linda Ploog, Susan Anderson, Eamon Anderson, Patricia Welsh and Lori Reichert. Additional election judges may be added if necessary.

- accepted the resignation of city public works employee James Bethke and authorized hiring a replacement
- accepted a petition for annexation for property at 27530 Kirby Ave, which is now located in Chisago Lake Township. The current owners have a problem with the existing sewer system on the site and would like to annex to the city in order to connect to a municipal sewer line runs down Kirby Avenue. Chisago Lake Township will be notified.

- authorized placement of no parking signs on Stinson Avenue and no trailer parking signs on Aldrid Avenue. The council acted in response to residents’ complaints about boat trailers and vehicles on neighborhood streets when no space is left at the nearby DNR public lake access/boat launch.

- passed a resolution accepting the preliminary plat for a minor subdivision at the old Fairview Lakes Hospital property at 11725 Stinson Avenue. The subdivision allows Fairview to separate the newer Fairview Medical Clinic, the old ambulance garage, and the adjacent parking areas from the rest of the 12 acre property. The new property line would run through the wall of the existing ambulance garage, which Fairview intends to remove before correcting some drainage problems.  The subdivision allows the Fairview Clinic to retain the small parking area at the rear of the clinic building where their mobile mammography truck parks.

Their intention is to retain the clinic and adjoining property as well as the parking lot located next to the Chisago Lakes Area Library, while selling the old hospital building and the remainder of the acreage. The property is currently zoned Public/SemiPublic - Facility. No variance is required for building setback at this time, but would be required if the property were to be rezoned in the future, according to the city attorney.
- heard an impassioned plea from Kyle Peterson of Winehaven Winery for the city to take some action to stop what he says is improper use of property to the south and east of the winery, between the winery and Highway 8.

Peterson said the unsightly appearance of the property is further damaging his business which has been devastated by the Covid 19 restrictions.

“Brides who come to talk about scheduling a wedding reception for next year say it looks like a junkyard next door,” he told the council via a Zoom link. Peterson contends the nearby property which contains a four-plex and is zoned residential, is being improperly used by a landscape business and contains dozens of fishhouses and boats, and numerous large vehicles including two bobcats. Peterson also complained that an excavator came in and took down numerous trees at night and that it appeared plumbing had been installed in a pole building which was being used for business purposes.

He said the city council has taken a stand against allowing unsightly solar gardens but allows this situation to continue which, in his estimation, is much worse.

“My family and I are heartbroken over what we’ve gone through this last four months,” said Peterson “We’ve made such an investment. We’ve been proud to be one of the top tourist destinations in the area and now this gives a bad impression.”

City Attorney Tom Miller told the council that the property owner had been sent a letter April 23 giving him 30 days to bring the property “into compliance.” Nothing was heard initially, but Miller said the owner had recently reported doing “some cleanup” and “applying for some permits.”

Councilwoman Marie Rivers supported taking stronger action saying, “It looks like a junkyard. It’s not right. Can’t we do more than send a letter?  What action can we take?”

Miller said that a violation of the city codes can be brought to the county attorney for prosecution, or pursued through a civil action. Short of going to court immediately, the council decided that a member of the council would first visit the property and meet with the property owner to discuss the problem in person. ”We need to talk to them so they know the council is involved, and we’re serious.” Councilman Craig Meyer volunteered for the task. “In the meantime, we plan to keep the city attorney involved,” said Mayor Bob Gustafson.

- sent Steve Witzel, owner of the Croix Estates manufactured home park, back to the proverbial drawing board in his quest for an evacuation plan or adequate storm shelter for the park.  June 23, the city rejected Witzel’s proposal to use Comfort Inn and Suites in Chisago City as an emergency storm shelter for park residents. The decision was based on a negative recommendation from Police Chief William Schlumbohm and Fire Chief Zach Reed who had visited the park, reviewed Witzel’s evacuation plan and found it to be unsafe.  In a letter to the council, public safety officials said Witzel’s proposed evacuation plan would require residents to leave their homes (the park is west of Lofton north of Highway 8) in “less-than-ideal conditions” and walk for 14 minutes, or drive seven-tenths of a mile to the Comfort Inn, which is locked during evening hours requiring them to request admission.

The letter also stated that the majority of the park residents are older and some have mobility limitations. This makes “the proposed plan, which requires residents to leave their homes and travel during dangerous weather conditions, contrary to the purpose of providing safe shelter,” the letter concluded.

Witzel, who operates similar parks in other communities, said he uses nearby buildings (like the motel) as emergency shelters in every other case and that none of his other parks have onsite storm shelters. He told the council that constructing a new storm shelter that meets state requirements would force him to raise lot rent significantly on the small number of units in the park, possibly making it unaffordable for current residents to remain.

The meeting ended with the owner saying he will talk with the police chief further about other possible evacuation options and consider building an underground shelter, possibly under a new manufactured home lot, which would bring in additional rent to help defray the cost.

By statute, parks with 10 or more homes licensed prior to 1988 must provide either a storm shelter or an evacuation plan approved by the local municipality.

- and postponed a public hearing on vacating right of way adjacent to parcels 13.11107.40 and 13.10430.10 (part of the recorded plat of the Woods of Green Lake) to the July meeting. The action has been postponed several times to allow the property owner and neighbors additional time to reach an agreement.






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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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