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November 28, 2020

11/21/2020 2:47:00 PM
Business relief extends to liquor license fee reduction; Green Lake dockage appeal due

 On-sale alchohol sellers in Chisago City got an early Christmas gift from the city council last week. The annual license fee for on-sale alcohol was reduced by 50 percent, due to economic hardship attributed to covid-19 precautions. The city will lose some $7,800 in not collecting half what it normally does from bars and restaurants; but council supported cutting the fee due in January for 2021.

City Administrator John Pechman noted city off-sale liquor retail sites have not inquired about a special fee consideration. Off-sale alcoholic beverage sales were considered “essential” and actually grew in the wake of early bar/restaurant shutdowns.

Establishments must have active licenses in order to purchase certain intoxicating products from wholesalers in Minnesota.

In another council action tied to the coronavirus; approval was given to finalize CARES Act expenditures the city processed in the timeframe allowed.

Chisago City will install an aluminum awning on the front of the municipal building with the CARES Act funds, Pechman announced. The Department of Motor Vehicles registrar station has people lined up on the sidewalk an hour before opening and on-going during the day because of virus occupancy restrictions inside the DMV. The awning will provide some protection from the weather.

Fire Chief Zach Reed was also on the council’s Zoom meeting and thanked the council for approving lightweight turnout gear for firefighters. This equipment/ garment is for non-structure type calls that don’t require high level of protection from intense heat and contaminants. Chief Reed said they’ll probably use this new equipment for 70 percent of their calls. “We really need this,” he concluded.

Reed was also there to comment on a deck permit at an address on Oak Lane.

The new homeowner was advised that no building permit had been issued for a deck that sits just 10.5 feet from the public right-of-way. She bought the home anyway, and under city direction, applied for a variance. The variance amounts to 14.5 feet from the lot line closer than what’s allowed. which is 25 feet.

Council member Marie Rivers was in favor of granting an after-the-fact variance, and asked, ”It’s there, does it really matter?” Chief Reed commented the neighborhood is “really tight” and having non-compliant structures impeding maneuvering of fire trucks, hoses, etc. is undesireable. Administrator Pechman said the deck hasn’t been inspected. He noted there also is room elsewhere on the lot to have placed a compliant deck.

Council voted 5-0 to require the deck to pass inspection and the variance would be contingent on this. Mayor Bob Gustafson first tried a motion to outright deny the variance, making the deck an illegal structure, but it failed.

Green Lake Villas docks
Expecting whatever they approve to land in court, the council took little time approving another zoning code issue. The developer of the new Villas on Green Lake (townhomes) on the former Lakeside School site (Little Green Lake) is requesting a Conditional Use Permit for a dock with 24 slips, for use by property owners in the development not on the lake.

Lakeshore dockage for the 11 riparian lots has been approved as part of the final plat adopted in August. The Dept. of Natural Resources opposes the final plat action and this CUP. In a letter to the city October 29 DNR Area Hydrologist Craig Wills said the state will be proceeding on an appeal of the dockage. Wills notes that the Villas went through the platting process as a PUD-- a planned unit development-- designed to grant more dense land use and allow for smaller lot sizes in exchange for “protecting the shoreland.”

Much was made in review of the layout of how riparian structures were set extra far back from the water, and mature trees were being preserved, among other benefits of a PUD. Wills wrote the boat spaces must not exceed one per each allowable unit, in the first tier (shore) and under the PUD this would be 13. He added, that he has had previous correspondence with Chisago City on this 35-boat slip development overall and he’d would prefer to continue discussion... “as well as other potential inconsistencies with the city’s administration of the Shoreland Overlay District regulations.” The developer argues that this is allowed under city codes and he feels he’s within his rights to be granted the 35 slip overall dockage.

City Administrator John Pechman said the DNR appeal review may come as early as the council’s December 8 meeting. Remodel coming up This December 8 session will be the council’s last one in the chambers they have always used for a while. The motor vehicle registrar office on the north side of this part of the building is being remodeled. The vehicle service for dealers is shifting into the council chambers, while the remodel is underway. The new DMV space should be complete by the end of December, Pechman stated.

Council okayed cooperating with making sure an action vacating a strip of land behind the hardware-bait-boat shop gets finalized. The council in 1996, according to minutes and records, approved the vacation of land that was never developed to be alleyway-- between Lofton and East St but it never was made official.

And, with no contests on the ticket, Chisago City voters did not achieve the high turnout level the rest of the county did. Totals for Chisago City were 3,831 registered on election day with 154 new registers added, and 1,533 votes cast. Council members Marie Rivers and Jeremy Dresel were unopposed for re-election.

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