June 21, 2024 at 2:05 p.m.

Janet Johnson WMA to grow by about 20 acres


By DENISE MARTIN | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment
News

The Janet Johnson Memorial Wildlife Management Area is growing to become just shy of 800 acres, with the latest acquisition nearing finalization. A parcel of 20 acres is transferring from the Catholic Church to the program administering wildlife management areas (WMA.)  

MN Department of Natural Resources representative Tim Maring spoke to North Branch City Council last week and explained that St Gregory Church initiated a process to incorporate a site surrounded on three sides by the Janet Johnson WMA.  The County Board will be asked to sign-off and then the parcel will be eligible to generate PILT (payment in lieu of tax) which as a church-owned site it did not contribute previously, Maring added.

WMA uses are for in-season hunting, a place to provide habitat and passive recreation, and no motorized uses are allowed.  Minnesota has hundreds of WMA sites open year’round to the public, with four or five in Chisago County alone.

City council got an update from Public Works head Shawn Williams on the Highway 95 wate rmain project. The services were scheduled to be re-connected by late last week and the intersection at Highway 95 and County Highway 30 was to also reopen.  The project overall has a done date of end of August, but Williams said if the work keeps progressing at a good clip, the project might wrap up a couple weeks early.  The MidSummer Days celebration June 20-23 wil be held as usual, with Central Park accessible to the carnival, etc. 

Williams also reports the lead water service line inventory is seeing “pretty good success.”  The city asks residents with city water service to check their incoming service pipes, if they are made of galvanized, copper or may contain lead. (Story in Press May 9.). There is a program underway to identify materials of water service lines and then funds are being made available to cover replacement costs of hazardous lead lines.

~ A concern expressed from a resident during open microphone about his cell phone service being disrupted,  can not be traced to cellular network antennae being moved to allow for water tower repairs, Williams stated.  He has talked with phone company technicians and issues are not related to the water tower projects, he advised.

~ Council voted unanimously to engage the search firm GMP and move ahead with an administrator candidate recruitment and vetting.  The company was one of three interviewed and estimated cost is $15,000 to $20,000 after expenses.

Jason Ziemer, community development director, is serving as interim administrator. (See page one for update on Ziemer submits his resignation.)

~ Police Officer Sean Huset submitted his retirement notice effective late June, and it was accepted. The vacancy will be posted.

~ Council meetings for July were re-scheduled to July 16 and 30.

~ Work continues on writing revisions to the chicken-keeping rules. A citizen had been cited for presumed violations and he asked council to take a fresh look at the ordinance.  Ziemer said conditions like size of the lot where chickens would be allowed and coop setbacks from neighbors are being reviewed.

And, the review of the area designated as Commercial Business District is on-going. A community discussion was held at the high school June 5.  Consultants plan to put together business and citizen feedback on the old downtown and have a report to council by July 31,  so comments and suggestions are still being accepted.

Mayor Kevin Schieber said the city is “proactively trying to engage and provide effective opportunities” to involve people.



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