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May 25, 2022

1/21/2022 1:31:00 PM
Chisago City organizes for year, accepts petition for annexation

When Chisago City’s 2022 organizational meeting convened on Jan. 11, only Mayor Bob Gustafson and Councilwoman Marie Rivers were physically present. Councilmen Jeremy Dresel, Craig Meyer and Mark Anderson, took part via Zoom.

The consent agenda included annual council appointments. Of those appointments required by statute, Marie Rivers was named Acting Mayor and the Chisago County Press as the official newspaper. Official depositories are MidwestOne Bank, 4M Fund, Dain Raucher and Citigroup. The volunteer Fire Relief Association includes Mayor Gustafson, City Administrator John Pechman, and Fire Chief Zach Reed. In other appointments, individual council members continue in the same committee assignments as last year.

No members of the public appeared at a mandatory public hearing on the city’s 2022 fee schedule, which was approved unanimously by the council. Many fees remain unchanged; however, water and sewer rates increased as determined by a 2021 rate study and so did administrative fees for preliminary and final plats, and lot splits.

Rental rates for various facilities at Ojiketa Regional Park (which can be reserved a year in advance) were increased for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The city’s Water Access Charge (WAC) for new connections  rose from $2,385 to $3,000. Special event permits will now cost $25. Citizens may view the complete list of city fees at city hall.

In other business, the council:

- voted to accept a petition for annexation of 3.2 acres of land at 11857 302nd St. submitted by High Pointe Land LLC. The property, which currently lies in Chisago Lake Township, is southeast of the Chisago Lakes Area Library and borders South Lindstrom Lake. It was part of the MHealth Fairview (old Chisago Lakes Hospital) site. According to city documents, after the property is annexed, the developer would like to connect to city water and sewer, and seek possible city participation in future improvement of 302nd St. roughly estimated at $135,000 with an estimated $50,000 for extension of sewer and water mains.

Councilman Jeremy Dresel expressed concern about the city being asked to commit money down the road. After being assured that request was not part of the Jan. 11 action, Dresel said he could support the petition for annexation.

Chisago City will present Chisago Lake Township with a joint orderly annexation agreement signed by the mayor and city administrator for consideration at the next regular town board meeting. The annexation agreement also must be sent to the Office of State Boundary Adjustments for approval.

-  after considerable discussion, approved a variance for a six-foot fence on the front half of the side yard at 29429 West St., which is zoned Central Business Commercial.

Property owner Richard Gregory had originally requested an 8-foot fence as a security measure to deter theft from work trailers parked at the site. Gregory agreed to a 6-foot fence as a compromise. As part of the original variance request, Gregory had also asked that the property be used as a warehouse and vehicle/trailer storage area, which are not permitted uses in the Central Business District.

Councilman Jeremy Dresel felt that use of the property for a warehouse or vehicle storage area should have required an interim use permit (IUP) as had been done in other similar situations in the city.

Dresel told the owner, “I don’t think we have a problem with what you’re doing, but I would like to have the IUP process done separately (from the variance) and done properly.”  The IUP would require Gregory to provide detailed information on elements such as parking, the numbers of vehicles to be stored, and hours. In the end, the council approved the variance for a 6-foot fence, and Gregory was asked to apply for an Interim Use Permit for vehicle parking and storage.

- voted unanimously to deny an Interim Use Permit for a dog daycare and boarding business in a residence at 10780 Stinson Ave. Neighbors and the Chief of Police spoke in opposition to the permit at a Jan. 6 planning commission hearing, and the planning commission voted for denial.  Hitomi Suga sought to board up to five dogs in addition to three dogs that reside at her home. Neighbors voiced concerns about excessive barking, noise, and the fact that Suga has a full-time job away from the home and would not always be there to supervise the animals.  Police reported that Suga had been cited three times for allowing dogs to go unleashed in a city park.

- approved expenditures for several city park improvements including a new marina dock system for Ojiketa Regional Park. Administrator Pechman explained that eight boat slips at the Ojiketa marina can be reserved in advance and rent out annually. The current marina dock at Ojiketa was purchased used 10 years ago and is no longer repairable. Of three quotes received, Fish Lake Dock and Lift submitted the low bid for the $50,000 project. Administrator Pechman said funding will come from the American Rescue Plan Act.  

The council also approved replacement of the popular zip line at Paradise Park. Park Supervisor Doris Zacho explained that, due to performance failure, the two-year-old, circular zip line at Paradise Park was removed by the company that sold and installed it. Their $23,000 refund will be supplemented with $20,000 from park dedication fees to purchase and install a new,  straight double handicap accessible “zipkrooz” system with fall zone and curbing adjustments.

The council also authorized using up to $20,000 from the park dedication fees to purchase and install new park picnic tables and garbage cans at Long’s Landing, Raspberry Hills, Wilderness Ridge, and Watertower Park.

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