Two neighbors living on Norway Trail on Daggett Lake requested the city vacate a public road right of way between their two lake properties and divide the undeveloped lakefront between them.
The city council denied that request on a 4-1 vote, with Mayor Dave Nevin opposed. The request had prompted site visits by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and city staff. As a result, the council then cited both property owners for public property infringement onto the right of way with stacked wood piles, mowed lawn areas, improved parking areas and campers, electrical meters and the removal of survey stakes, creating the impression that the public land is private and not for public use as it was dedicated in 1946.
The adjacent property owners were ordered to remove any and all encroachments within 14 days or they could be subject to fines of $75 per day per violation.
A few neighbors spoke in favor of the vacation. The vacated right of way, formerly called Island Avenue, was proposed to be split between property owners Mike Kobs and Chris Neaton. Neaton had hoped to expand his family’s small cabin.
“No one uses it,” Neaton said of the public lake property. “This would be huge for us. Right now our hands are tied.”
The Minnesota DNR, the public works commission and parks and recreation commission all recommended the city deny the request. The wooded shoreline property includes a steep drop and is approximately 33 feet by 150 feet.
Former city administrator Tom Swenson, who lives on West Shore Drive, told council members that these lake accesses should be protected. He himself watches the Crosslake fireworks from a similar public shore access each year.
“If you want to pull up on shore and eat a sandwich, there are these accesses,” Swenson said. “He may say no one uses it, but this is a slippery slope.”
City Attorney Brad Person said in the past five years the city had four similar requests; one was approved and three were denied. He said the city has to hold a public hearing if someone requests a right of way vacation, but it doesn’t mean the city must approve it. He said each situation is different and should be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The city also approved a recommendation by city staff that the council increase the application fee for a road vacation from $500 to $1,000, based on legal, administrative and mailing costs to complete such requests. This vacation request has cost more than the city’s $500 administrative fee.