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June 13, 2021

6/4/2021 2:39:00 PM
Chisago City hears lake shore issue; negotiated settlement with DNR

Chisago City opened its council room May 25 to the public for the first time since Covid 19 restrictions took effect in March 2020. (During the pandemic, council meetings were conducted behind closed doors using Zoom and aired live for the public on Facebook.)

Attending a public hearing at the May 25 meeting were several residents of Oak Lane at Russell Beach. The property owners have petitioned the city to vacate right-of-way that exists on their properties along the shore of South Lindstrom Lake. Residents said they had purchased the property as lakeshore lots and were paying lakeshore taxes but the platted right of way runs along their shoreline.

The area in question is within the shoreline of South Lindstrom Lake adjacent to Lots 1, 4, 5, 8 and 9 of A.W. Carlson’s Rearrangement of Lots 1 to 13 Inclusive of Chisago Beach. It was mentioned that the platted right of way would never be developed as a street since part of it lies within the Ordinary High Water level of the lake. The right of way would be replaced by an easement for the sanitary sewer line that runs across the properties.  

City Attorney Tom Miller said he has prepared necessary documents for the sewer easement. A separate easement is necessary, Miller said, because the sewer line isn’t in the middle of the platted right of way in some places. He also explained to residents that, if the right of way is vacated, the city wouldn’t be deeding the property to them but simply giving up its rights to use it for a future street.  (When right of way is vacated, land within the right of way normally reverts half to each to the adjacent property owners of record.)

No action was taken at the May 25 meeting because the public hearing was continued to July 27 in order to give the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 60 days to review and comment on the petition as required by law.

In other business, the council:
- stated that a settlement agreement is taking shape in connection with litigation initiated by the DNR relative to the number of docks the city permitted at the Green Lake Villas development. The council had met with the city attorney to discuss the litigation in closed session immediately prior to the May 25 council meeting. During the open portion of that meeting, the council authorized City Administrator John Pechman to review a tentative DNR settlement before it comes back to the council for final approval.

- approved a variance requested by Anthony Szymanski, 9811 John Trail, for an accessory metal building that is not of similar material or color to the primary structure and for providing a secondary access road on the property. The request had received a unanimous recommendation from the city planning commission with the stipulation that the color of the building be similar to that of the primary structure, or a neutral color approved by city staff.

- voted to approve a request from Erica Morales of Don Julio’s to add outside seating and fencing adjacent to the restaurant. The area will be an extension of the existing outdoor tables along the sidewalk next to the building. The fencing will be removed in the winter.

- accepted with sincere regret the resignation of Associate Planner Courtney Wiekert effective June 3. Wiekert was the city’s first planner and has served in that capacity for 16 years and eight months. The city is already advertising for a replacement; however, at the suggestion of Councilmember Jeremy Dresel the council voted to authorize the personnel committee to meet to consider expanding the planner’s role “in view of reconstruction of Highway 8 and revision of the Comprehensive Plan coming up.”

- after some discussion, voted to approve a bill for $13,467 for two SuperVac space saver fans already purchased by the Chisago City Fire Department. The battery-operated fans are used to help clear and circulate air in a smoke-filled building.

The council expressed concern that the fans had been ordered and were already in hand but had not gone through the normal prior approval process.

Mayor Bob Gustafson said the fans are beneficial to the department and to the city, and he endorsed paying for them, but added, “We need to send a message that these items need to come before the council first (before they are purchased). We need to make sure the fire department knows what the protocol is.”

The city fund that receives the city’s percentage of Charitable Gambling proceeds. The fund is used to provide equipment for the fire department. Expenditures from that fund require city council approval.

The fire chief has previously indicated the need for a new fire truck in the not-too-distant future. “Every time we expend these funds, it’s pushing the new truck farther away,” commented Councilwoman Marie Rivers.

Councilmember Craig Miller, who is the fire department liaison, moved to pay for the fans and said he would discuss the situation with the department at their next meeting.

- approved a request by city resident Richard Partek to use a pellet gun to shoot at rabbits ravaging his garden. Permission was granted for a limited two-week period as recommended by Councilmember Mark Anderson who met with Partek.

Partek may only shoot at rabbits in his yard from his deck, and he must aim down ward into the area of his lawn between the deck and his garden. Anderson said that If Partek kills a rabbit, he must notify a conservation officer within 24 hours.

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