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Council hears response to planning and zoning assessement

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The Crosslake City Council met mixed reactions Tuesday night, June 11, at a public hearing held to discuss Crow Wing County’s recent assessment of the city’s planning and zoning.

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Around 40 people attended the meeting at the community center. Chris Pence, Crow Wing County Land Services supervisor, wrote the report on Crosslake’s department. He explained that the council had requested the report, which included 31 recommendations for changes to the city’s planning and zoning.

Dave Fischer, a resident representing the Whitefish Area Property Owners Association (WAPOA), said WAPOA had reviewed the document and agreed with parts, but also had concerns.

“We concur there have been numerous instances where past and present councils have not provided consistent policy and direction to P&Z staff,” Fischer said. “A substantial number of the criticisms of P&Z are a result of this shortcoming by the elected body.”

Fischer also said WAPOA supports using a consultant to update the city’s land use ordinances.

Another resident, Dick Dietz, supported WAPOA’S comments, but also said, “I think the city council themselves should be embarrassed by this report.”

Resident Charles McCulloch was opposed to the rules of order of the meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, Mayor Darrell Schneider said the council would not be responding to comments. McCulloch called the meeting unproductive.

“My suggestion would be to get everything out in the open. Because it’s not,” McCulloch said.

Fischer said the elephant in the room was a resolution the council faced in the past asking administration to go to the county and come back with a draft contract to have the county take over planning and zoning. Fischer said the resolution didn’t pass, but wondered if it was still an issue.

Schneider said he didn’t want the planning and zoning commission to be composed of people from somewhere else meeting somewhere else.

Council member Mark Wessels made similar statements.

“We want staff in Crosslake. We want you to be able to get a permit here. We want you to be able to come to us if you’re not happy,” Wessels said.

Wessels also spoke about the county’s process and changes in its Land Services Department, expressing that he wanted Crosslake to follow a similar course.

Resident Wayne Lindholm thanked the council for the whole process, and applauded them for looking at what others have done, rather than reinventing the wheel.

Other comments included concern over inconsistency among enforcement of the ordinances and a need to simplify and update the city’s code.

Some residents expressed concern that the council would make a decision at the next council meeting without responding to concerns or having further dialogue with the community.

Council member Steve Roe, in response, proposed that the council come forth with a proposal, but that the next meeting would not include a final decision and that public comment would be taken at that time.

Schneider first supported the measure, but changed his mind after Wessels stated his worry that the measure would tie the council’s hands and make them unable to move forward.

Though Wessels and Schneider voted against the measure, it passed on a 3-2 vote. The next meeting on the issue is at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 27, at city hall.

Pence’s full report is available on the city’s website at www.cityofcrosslake.org.t

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