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Crosslake: Council amends gambling code: Discusses land use, enforcement ordinances

In their Monday, Oct. 12, meeting, the Crosslake City Council unanimously agreed to amend portions of the city's gambling code. Following a premises permit application submitted by Merrifield Marathons, Inc. for fundraising pull tabs at The Cedar...

In their Monday, Oct. 12, meeting, the Crosslake City Council unanimously agreed to amend portions of the city's gambling code.

Following a premises permit application submitted by Merrifield Marathons, Inc. for fundraising pull tabs at The Cedar Chest - an application that was approved by all members of the council - city administrator Dan Vogt recommended the council change the city code allowing just one pull tab operation in a facility, since state law allows for up to three.

Additionally, city attorney Brad Person recommended altering the code to call on organizations to prove they serve residents of Crow Wing County, as opposed to requiring a portion of the proceeds go to the city. Council member Mark Wessels agreed with change, especially for organizations that indirectly serve Crosslake residents like Merrifield Marathons and the Northern Lakes Lightning Youth Hockey Association.

"We serve a lot of communities, and we want them to come here," Wessels said. "We also have neighboring communities we want to play nice with ... Adding another percentage that would go directly to the city, I think, would not be good."

The council heard from Crow Wing County employee Jon Kolstad regarding proposed changes to the city's land use ordinance, including standards for shoreland areas, rural residential areas and accessory structures.

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The council took issue with the proposed changes to the ordinance's article on signs, as it would now allow multi-business pylon signs (MBPS) of up to 700 square feet per face, which the council felt was too large. The signs would also be allowed to be up to 30 feet high with a minimum "clear space" of 10 feet from the ground.

The idea came forward to limit the size to a certain amount per business, but the council agreed to bring the issue back in a future meeting while approving the other ordinance changes.

The council also discussed a proposed ordinance to enforce administrative offenses, primarily for nuisance and land use issues.

"Sometimes, violations are minor enough that it would make no sense to hire me to go to court and spend thousands of dollars for a mowing violation," Person said. "There are too many resources allotted to one little issue ... This (ordinance) actually adopts a fee schedule, and we can have fines. If they don't pay them, we can access the fines against the property."

Person told the council this ordinance would require the city to establish an administrative hearing process for those who feel wrongly cited for a violation. Mayor Steve Roe mentioned a similar attempted ordinance roughly seven years prior that received a large amount of resistance from the public, and Wessels encouraged the council to consider unintended consequences of an ordinance like this.

"What can of worms are we opening with this?" Wessels asked. "Unintended consequences always show up, and this one is rife for all sorts of unintended consequences. I agree that we need something like this ... There has to be a way of checks and balances on this. Today, everything might be fine, but I'm talking about three, four or five years from now with a different council. Might it get abused? We will need a way for the council to correct that."

Person felt it would be "premature" to adopt the ordinance at the meeting, and Vogt suggested it be brought forward at the council's December meeting.

In other action, the council:

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• Allowed Crosslake Communications to begin offering a service called "V-Fax," which allows customers to send and receive faxes via their computer or smartphone, at a flat rate of $9.99 per month.

• Approved a lump sum fee of $9,000 for Widseth Smith Nolting of Baxter for engineering services for the channel reinforcement of the Melinda Shores Bridge.

Before adjourning, the council entered a closed session to discuss pending litigation regarding resident Jerry Bilski's land vacation request. No decision was made during that session.

In September, the Crosslake Police Department responded to 202 incidents, including two traffic arrests, two crashes and six thefts. In Mission Township, the department responded to 43 incidents, including five traffic citations and two crashes.

The Crosslake Fire Department responded to 25 incidents in September, including 22 EMS calls, two false alarms and one downed power line.

Related Topics: CROSSLAKE CITY COUNCILCROSSLAKE
Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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