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Council approves loan for Crosswoods Golf Course expansion

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In its first action of the night, the Crosslake City Council approved an application from Crosswoods Golf Course to receive a loan from the city's Economic Development Authority's revolving loan fund.

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Crosswoods intends to acquire an additional 18 acres of land adjacent to the course, then improve a total of 33 acres to add nine holes to the current 18-hole course. The total cost of the project is an estimated $714,000, $450,000 of which will be financed by Frandsen Bank. Owners Mike and Kelly Stone are providing $164,000, therefore requesting the remaining $100,000 from the revolving loan fund.

Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation executive director Sheila Haverkamp said the project would create a couple of new jobs as well as generate seasonal activity.

The council approved the application with no discussion and Mayor Darrell Schneider described the golf course as "one of the finest businesses in our community."

Stone thanked the council and said of the loan fund, "I think it's a great tool for the community, and I encourage other businesses to seek it out and use it."

Council members also took up the issue of planning and zoning refunds, which they tabled at last month's meeting to do more fact finding.

Scott and Gordon Siemers requested a refund on planning and zoning fees charged to the father and son for their business, Xtreme Storage and Car Wash. The Siemerses believe they were charged unfairly for enforcement. To date, they have paid $2,968.25 in fees to the city, with $1,743.75 still due.

Council member John Moengen said that since the last meeting, he had received numerous phone calls and had been approached by people who stated that if the council gave a refund in this case, they'd like their own fees considered.

The city has made significant changes to the planning and zoning department in recent years, which Moengen said has fixed some perceived problems in the application of fees and fairness in enforcement.

"This is before this council came into effect," Schneider said. "We're operating with an entirely different system (now)."

Moengen said if the council chose to reverse some of the Siemerses' fees, it would be forced to consider other old fees, fees that some residents had paid in full.

"It's really difficult to go back and to try to analyze who we give money to and who we don't," he said. "I think we have to stick with where we're at moving forward."

Council member Mark Wessels said that although he agreed with Moengen "in principle," he still felt as though the enforcement action taken against the Siemerses warranted a partial refund. He described a torrential rain event that left standing water on County Road 3, an event that apparently washed out bridges in surrounding communities. The Siemerses were charged enforcement fees because of the standing water near their business.

"It was maddening to me, standing on that property, watching two (former planning and zoning) employees wondering why there's water on the road. It rained three inches," Wessels said. "Would anyone go along with maybe giving them back a couple hundred dollars?"

Schneider said they'd done something similar in the past, and that person "took terrible offense."

"I would be opposed to going with really any amount," he said. "I don't know that there's a right amount to really deduct."

Moengen moved to leave the fees as they are and not issue a credit. The motion passed 4-1, with Wessels opposed.

In their next agenda item, the council reviewed a memo from council member Steve Roe, requesting a refund on planning and zoning fees for Pat Netko, owner of Lake Country Crafts and Cones in Crosslake. According to Roe's memo, property adjacent to Netko's was improperly managed by a company that planned to build a subdivision, leading to a flooded and muddy parking lot. The subdivision never went in, and Netko subsequently purchased the adjacent lot to expand her parking lot and add stormwater retention.

Roe noted that the city failed to enforce plans submitted for the subdivision, and that Netko's actions "saved the city great enforcement actions and resulting expense."

Moengen said he failed to see how they could rule any differently on this situation than the Siemerses' request.

"I empathize with this situation, especially when you've got a business owner that's been here a long time," he said. "I think we have to stick with the same program going forward."

Wessels, who opposed the previous action, said, "That was a cost of doing business. That was something she knew going in."

The council again voted not to give a refund, but this time Wessels voted in favor of the motion, while Roe, who supported the previous action, voted against.

During public forum, Netko approached the microphone to question Wessels' actions.

"In the future, are you in favor of upholding fees or not?" she asked.

Wessels responded by pointing out that Roe had also flipped his position, so in his opinion, Netko should be questioning him as well.

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Chelsey Perkins
Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her Bachelor's degree in professional journalism from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Perkins has interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before joining the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.
(218) 855-5874
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