11/28/2013 1:01:00 PM Lindstrom Council agenda a mixed bag last week
by DENISE MARTIN
Sometimes when you have to please a large number of people you end up not pleasing anybody. That was the theme of last week’s Lindstrom City Council meeting when City Administrator John Olinger found himself defending administrative decisions that were being appealed. The city council first heard from an applicant wanting to build a house in a floodplain. The site drawing describes a dwelling too large and too near the lake for approval, so Olinger denied applicant Lenny Koch’s permit. Koch told council the building inspector had no issues with it. Olinger explained that what he does is apply the city zoning code to applications, he doesn’t inspect construction or make sure appropriate design elements or building materials are used.
The plan putting this house within two feet of Ordinary High Water on South Center Lake on a lot off Newlander Avenue, doesn’t comply with the zoning code. Koch was advised that the city planning commission is where he needs to start any appeal of staff decisions. The planning commission meets December 4 and Koch asked to be on that agenda. City Attorney Soren Mattick also explained that the house was denied due to its volume. The overall size of the proposed house can’t be an enlargement over the non-conforming structure Koch wants to replace. This new house is two-story and the first time the building official saw building plans a story-and-a-half was proposed. This site will also need a number of additional setback variances in order to accomodate what the applicant wants, which the planning commission will also review. The city administrator’s decision regarding an application to set traps at Allemensratt Park was also discussed. Olinger processed a request from a resident of Chisago Lake Township who traps beaver, muskrat, etc. The swampy area around and at Bull Lake, in the park, would be where he’d set below-water level traps.
His state license was in order. Lindstrom recently adopted trapping regulations for city-owned land that require the city administrator OR the city council to approve requests like this and Olinger approved. If not approved specifically, trapping on city land is forbidden. The Park Board is asking the city council to review this action. The Park Board wants only the city council to have the authority to allow traps under limited circumstances and asks for the ordinance to be revised. This issue will be on a December or January council meeting agenda, depending on ice thickness development and how the trapping season shapes up. City resident John Nelson frequently attends council meetings and he commented to council that the “Allemensratt” concept (the Scandinavian precept of “all men’s right” to open space) is being left behind, as additional government restrictions are placed on activities that people have historically pursued locally in open spaces.
A project constructing a dentistry practice, on the Hwy 8 frontage road west of the lights at County Road 14, was approved. The land was re-zoned to Business and a parking lot permit was granted. Two parcels are being combined (between Lehigh Ave. and the Security State Bank of Marine) to accomodate the new Lindstrom Family Dentistry owned by Dr. Struve, and a new vacant lot is created. The remaining lot will be buildable, Council member AnnMarie Brink was assured when she questioned the outcome of the action. Cities require addresses (lots) to have access to a public road, and a minimum frontage, and this configuration will leave a conforming lot, although it will be an “odd configuration,” staff reported. ~ Council also agreed to acquire the deteriorating red-colored wooden frame building, on First, near Maple Street. The city will raze the building and prepare the lot for sale, but expects to use it for parking in the meantime. The city is using a $135,000 zero interest loan from the county HRA/EDA. The bank is removing any current tenants and paying delinquent taxes on the site. Council heard that the city pays back the loan over five years at no interest, and if the site doesn’t sell in that time the county will re-negotiate terms. ~ Council unanimously okayed using Jon Herdegen, city engineer, to design stormwater system improvements in Pleasant Hill Park.
The Chisago County Soil and Water Conservation District is the lead agency on this retro-fit, but the city prefers to use its engineer and SWCD is okay with that. ~ IN paying the bills Council member Joe Wishy abstained-- complaining that about $50,000 worth (24 separate bills) for public works projects went to Bluhm Construction Inc. Wishy has consistently argued he wants to see other contractors involved in city projects, and comparative price quotes. Council member Curt Flug noted the council knew about many of these as pending repairs and maintenance, and individually the majority came to less than $1,000. ~ Finance Director Kay Mattson walked council through the 2014 levy in preparation for the December 19 hearing with the public. The public hearing starts at 6:30 p.m. The city levy is proposed to increase just under three percent. Highlights behind next year’s budget include: $32,000 extra because the city now has responsibility for clearing snow on Highway 8; police capital equipment account needs estimated at $24,000; newly city-owned streetlights in downtown require more money to insure and maintain.