ity business towards the end of the year can go two ways— either it gets very busy wrapping up loose ends of projects, permits and things with deadlines; or it can slow to make room for the Holidays and city officials’ calendars filling up.
Lindstrom went the busy route with its three and a half hour council session November 18.
The public improvements hearing was held for Newlander Avenue. Residents basically told council they didn’t care if the project happened or not. Disruption is not something they look forward to, the cost to be assessed ($3,300 per unit now) is a concern, and the fact that a paved Newlander will appear more inviting and unwanted traffic will come down towards South Lindstrom Lake was a concern.
This is a relatively small infrastructure project (between Elm and the lake), City Engineer Jon Herdegen explained, but it is needed for water service improvements and it is one of the last gravel surfaces the city is maintaining. There are just five parcels affected and over the decades the street has developed to be half the size of usual right of way. Design details were sought by the residents at the hearing but Herdegen said it is early in the process yet. He cautioned residents there will be times during the project, planned for a May 2022 start, when direct access to their lots will be restricted depending on how much trenching and site work is required.
Council voted unanimously to order the plans and specs be drawn. An assessment hearing will be scheduled and neighbors should expect to get notices.
There were a number of zoning requests the council acted on. A new house at 282nd and Lakelawn was okayed for two curb cuts for a horsehoe shape driveway
An addition. to a house existing on Irene Avenue was approved. The deck and patio area will be used for the addition.
A condition calling for a permeable driveway at a home on Norway Avenue was extended to August 2022 due to a death and the property changing hands.
An issue with access, variances and subdividing for a cabin to be expanded on Glader Boulevard (South Center Lake) was tabled.
Right-of-way to officially allow a route directly onto Glader is a condition of the package, and the two landowners had not come to an agreement as of last week. Robert Palmer, owner of land to the south of the cabin, was to provide enough land (through purchase or easement) so the cabin owner would be able to dedicate 30 feet for Glader right-of-way. When council heard from Palmer that an agreement was still pending, it was the motion to table all the actions allowing for the cabin expansion, to December 16.
A land use issue still under review got lengthy discussion time in public comment, at the start of the council meeting. Accessory Dwelling Units or ADU are being looked at in a code reorganization and update.
The concept seems to be known as “tiny houses” “short term rentals” and various names but the public comment was 90 percent in opposition to what’s been written so far.
(Council was set to be holding a work session Tuesday November 30.)
The planner said one idea behind ADUs is to address short term rentals standards as the county is licensing these and Lindstrom needs to better align with that. But ADU also creates some housing options for the elderly, or a caregiver or student returned-home, and can add density.
There are levels of zoning code requirements that can protect neighborhoods, planners Rita Trapp and Beth Richmond added. There has also been feedback on retaining the Central Business District zoning on Newell in the vintage residential area.
In other matters: ~ Council okayed a request to increase firefighter pension annual payouts to $3,500 per year of eligible service from $3,100.
Firefighters get this sum when they retire and are vested after five years. The account that supports the benefit is bolstered by a city contribution of $6,000 each year. Council was advised by the fire department account manager Ryan Peterson that there may be a request to increase this contribution in the near future, but for now fund investments, etc. are doing well.
~ Council certified $70,104 in delinquent sewer and water accounts to be added to property taxes.
~ The new fire station site south of city hall has sewer and water stubbed in, and crews plan to excavate for footings yet this fall. Majority of construction is next year.
~ A project constructing small bridges inside of Allemansratt Park near Bull Lake —will begin to mobilize around December 6, should you observe activity in the woods.
Trailer Park complaints The public comment portion of the council meeting provided an outlet for pent up frustrations and worries expressed by property owners near the old Elms Estates. The trailer park on the west side of Lindstrom on Highway 8, closed in September. The city brought in a community development council agency to facilitate trailer buyouts using a state fund. The former Elms Estates residents began to vacate the homes but the Estates has fallen into a state of neglect and is a public safety hazard, according to neighbors.
City Administrator Joh Olinger said the “title” to seven of the trailers has not been transferred so there’s a hold-up in razing these. Three of the trailers have been demolished, he added. The only role Lindstrom played was facilitating Lakes & Pines Agency to administer the state payout/relocation assistance.
Complainant William Pinsonneault said the county tells neighbors it is a city issue and the city says it is the park owners’ responsibility. There is no running water or electric anymore but he said people are still living there and wondered if the city can sue the owner or levy a fine?
City Attorney Shaina Conklin said there could be a civil action but that could take a year or more, especially with courtroom logjams from covid. Mayor Kevin Stenson said the property owner is working to obtain the missing titles. Olinger also advised neighbors to notify law enforcement whenever suspicious activity happens and he will continue to “monitor” the Estates daily.