5/30/2013 4:24:00 PM Staff, engineers to go into resort for up close look-see
Lindstrom City Council members met with county zoning and enforcement staff and Chisago Lake Township supervisors in a special session May 23, to try and figure out a way to address a costly infrastructure crisis at the historic Rose Hill Resort, on South Lindstrom Lake. The city is being petitioned by resort owner, Alan Davis, to annex the property into the city. Davis was put on notice by the state health department and Chisago County for wastewater system surface discharge. Without municipal sewer service to the resort site or at least a firm plan to be moving in that direction, he won’t open for business this summer. County Septic Services Compliance Officer Kellie Strobel said there was an existing imminent health threat with surface discharge of sewer apparent when she visited Rose Hill the day of the meeting.
But Lindstrom isn’t prepared at this time to take on the baggage annexation carries. Right now, as part of Chisago Lake Township, Rose Hill Resort is not legally the city’s problem. City Administrator John Olinger said, “We looked at the numbers (cost to extend city services) and asked is this what we want to do?” (Council story Press May 23) Mayor Keith Carlson also posed the rhetorical question wondering if anybody in the meeting room last week saw the $400,000 estimated installation costs as “economically feasible.” “I don’t see it,” he added. If Lindstrom fronts project costs and puts Davis’s share onto a multi-year assessment (taxes) and the resort can’t pay, the city is knowingly getting into a bad deal, the mayor remarked. Lindstrom Council member Curt Flug added that the city can plan ahead for providing a project of this scope if it has lead time, but at this point “...just taking care of the resort is a pile of dough.” So, the next approach discussed was a “temporary fix” which may not service all the resort’s inhabited structures (seasonal and rentals year-round) but which might buy some time. Olinger assured Davis that Rose Hill is a desireable business, and the city will do what it can so it doesn’t fail. Davis also said he wants to remain in business and will work with regulators, but he is financially at a loss to tackle everything alone.
There are programs available through the county/state for fixing emergency issues like this, but the available funding doesn’t come near covering costs of a full blown area-wide remedy. Strobel said she estimates the functioning portion of Rose Hill’s sewer system might have capacity for eight bedrooms of occupancy, but she doesn’t even know how many people reside on the site. She also needs to inspect the physical structures (holding tanks-drainfield) with the city engineer to see if they can even temporarily handle re-directed flow. Being declared an imminent health threat with surfacing flowing sewerage, Davis has 60 days to comply, she added. Steve Putman, county zoning enforcement, added that Davis has been operating for a long time knowing he lacked local approvals. Rose Hill has been on notice for a year it requires a Conditional Use Permit either from the county as a township property, or from Lindstrom. Senior County Zoning Administrator Tara Guy said when Davis placed fill onto the upland area (used for fish house and boat storage) without a permit, the ensuing complaint meant a wetland inspection-- which led to the realization there’s year-round inhabitation of what the county thought was a seasonal operation.
The county learned the marina and boat rental was operated without any DNR oversight or conditions and no marina permit. She said the state is “holding off” on all these matters under the assurances that local authorities can get some remediation actions going. All three county officials were clearly of the opinion this site has been operating outside accepted norms far too long. Lindstrom Council member Flug noted that the city can’t be relied on for all the systems issues around all the lakes. “We’d like to fix them all (obsolete septics) but I don’t know how that works.” Township Supervisor Jim Froberg said the property tax revenue split, that’s usually part of an annexation, could be waived and what would normally be township revenue could go to help Lindstrom pay off the project. Township supervisors also would be willing to meet with adjoining township parcel owners to see if there’s interest in a long-term municipal system hookup commitment.
Froberg noted Lindstrom and the Township did this when sewer was extended out Glader Blvd. along South Center Lake. Olinger said the numbers worked better in the Glader project-- and that Lindstrom has previously tried to bring properties near Rose Hill (306th) into improved city systems, but due to complications in that specific neighborhood assessment estimates were rejected as too costly, by affected property owners. Ideally, City Engineer Jon Herdegen explained, that whole region of the lake would benefit from new municipal sewer and water. From an engineering standpoint, “We’d like to see the larger solution.” The 90-minute special meeting wrapped up with county and city staff directed to do on-site inspections and see specifically what there is to work with at Rose Hill. They will report back shortly. Davis also must get a Conditional Use Permit. The annexation request was not acted on. Rose Hill remains in the township. For now.