The Jenkins City Council voted against a request to detach a section of property that owners had petitioned to be annexed by the city in 2005.

Mark and Lisa Leutem submitted a petition to the Jenkins council for discussion at the Monday, Nov. 8, regular meeting. They requested that the city allow them to detach their property and become part of Jenkins Township.

Mark Leutem attended the meeting and said he and his wife owned a property development over 40 acres on the southeast side of the city. The future development is on an unpaved road. Leutem said they cannot begin developing the properties on the acreage until the road is paved, as the properties would likely sell faster if the road was paved.

Leutem, who requested the city pave the road at a meeting several months ago, said the council told him they would consider adding the road to the five-year plan because the road project is not currently part of the budget. He said he cannot wait five or more years as he and his wife have invested a significant amount of funds in the property and need to start selling.

As a result, he is requesting the city allow the detachment so they can join Jenkins Township, who he would then expect to pave the road in a shorter time period.

Newsletter signup for email alerts

This is a reversal from 2005, when Leutem detached his property from Jenkins Township to join the city to get around Crow Wing County limitations on lot sizes. At that time, he wanted to subdivide the property, but the county did not allow subdivisions smaller than 15 acres.

The city did not have such a restriction, so the property became part of the city and the Leutems subdivided the properties.

Council members did not seem pleased about this change. Council members Andrew Rudlang and Charles Hoffman pointed out that Leutem likely convinced the council to accept his property into the city with the understanding that eventually it would add to the tax roll; however, the property has not been developed.

Leutem said it wasn't developed because in 2005, they had their investments elsewhere and then only three years later in 2008, the recession started and they spent years afterward recovering.

Mayor Jon Lubke said it was unusual for a property developer to ask the city to pave a road leading to nothing, as none of the property has been developed. He said it had never been done before. He said there are similar developments in the city that have paved roads, but those paved roads don't seem to have helped sell the properties that much faster as Leutem had suggested in his case.

Rudlang said the city could not be expected to make a split second decision on paving a road, because they need to plan and budget to make the best decisions for city residents. Rudlang also said he couldn't support the detachment because the council shouldn't be cutting off pieces of the city and giving them to area townships as it would increase the tax burden on other residents. He didn't think the decision was in keeping with their strategic plan.

Leutem reiterated that he financially could not wait. The council voted 3-2 to deny the detachment, with Hoffman and Kim Bachman voting against the denial and Rudlang, Lubke and Jerimey Flategraff voting in favor of the denial.

Leutem said he had someone who would buy the property and put no homes on it, which would not increase the city's tax base. He then said it would be up to an administrative law judge to decide, thanked the council and left.

According to a document provided by the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings, there might not be an option of an administrative hearing if Jenkins Township also denies the detachment/annexation request. However, if the township accepts the request, there would be a hearing with an administrative law judge to determine whether the property can be detached.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Signed necessary documents to qualify for the $132,500 in Small Cities Development Program funds from the Department of Employment and Economic Development.
  • Approved a $6,300 bid to add material to a section of road known as Ultra Flyte Drive.
  • Agreed to hire Debbie Siltman for city hall cleaning for $15 an hour with a limit of eight hours per month.
  • Learned there have been no bids on a truck the city is attempting to sell. The council agreed to wait and see if bids come in at the last minute.
  • Agreed to have Lubke attend the next Crow Wing County Board meeting to support installation of a driveway onto a property on County Road 145 on which the owners would like to construct a landscaping business. The property already has a driveway in the same location, though it might not have been officially recognized by the county.

Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.