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Breezy Point City Council reverses planning and zoning day care decision

The council also votes to advertise for an assistant administrator

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Breezy Point, MN city hall sign. PineandLakes Echo Journal file photo.
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BREEZY POINT — In its Monday, May 2, meeting, the Breezy Point City Council reversed a planning commission decision to award an interim use permit to Ashdown Forest School, which would have allowed the day care facility to serve up to 24 clients as opposed to the 12 currently allowed.

A letter of appeal against the planning commission's decision was submitted to the city; it was signed by 18 community members in the surrounding area. Primary concerns were increased traffic issues and conditions that may be “injurious to the safety, order, comfort and appearance” of the neighborhood.

There is no doubt about it that there is a need for child care … However, we have to look at what our rules and regulations are within the city.
Michael Moroni, Breezy Point City Council

They also argued that the facility’s goal of hiring four non-resident employees was in violation of the city’s “home occupation” ordinance, which states employees of a home occupation must be limited to family members living on the premises.

That final point is the one that convinced the majority of the council.

“There is no doubt about it that there is a need for child care,” council member and acting mayor Michael Moroni said. “As a father of young adolescents, it is hard to find. I appreciate what this is doing – I think it is a great thing. However, we have to look at what our rules and regulations are within the city. By allowing more than family members to work in a home occupation we need to find in the sand when a home occupation becomes a business. … I really think that with the way the ordinance is written today, (Ashdown Forest School) does not meet that.”

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The council voted 3-1 to reverse the decision, with council member Tom Lillehei voting in opposition.

“By issuing the interim use permit with conditions, planning and zoning took the position that this was a reasonable use of the property … I think the compelling reason it was approved is that, in their opinion, it was a reasonable use and the need for affordable child care is paramount in our society,” Lillehei said. “From that standpoint, I would be in favor of upholding the decision.”

The council also voted to ask the planning commission to review the city’s ordinances.

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The city received two bids, with DeChantal’s low bid coming in at $7,681, for demoltion of hazardous structures on Terminal Road.

By issuing the interim use permit with conditions, planning and zoning took the position that this was a reasonable use of the property … I think the compelling reason it was approved is that, in their opinion, it was a reasonable use and the need for affordable child care is paramount in our society.
Tom Lillehei, Breezy Point City Council

In other business Monday, the council voted unanimously to begin advertising for an assistant city administrator.

The decision comes in the second week of employment for new city administrator David Chanski. An assistant administrator was initially planned to be hired by April 1, but the change in administrator delayed the hiring.

The position was budgeted at 75% for 2022. A formal job description is not yet complete, but the council authorized city staff to conduct the advertising and hiring process once it is complete.

In other action, the council:

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  • Agreed to classify five soon-to-be tax-forfeited parcels as “non-conservation” so Crow Wing County may offer them in a future land sale.
  • Agreed to replace two pumps at Lift Station No. 1 – which pumps all wastewater in the city to the sewer plant and therefore experiences more wear and tear than other lift stations – for a total of $48,200.
  • Agreed to chip seal Whitebirch Drive, Suffolk Circle, Suffolk Drive and Papago Circle for roughly $47,000.

The council began the meeting by giving a life-saving award to city police officer Joe Garcia.
Mayor Todd Roggenkamp was not in attendance.

In April, the Breezy Point Police Department responded to 169 incidents, an increase of 19 from April 2021. Among the incidents were four crashes, four thefts and one traffic arrest.

Dan Determan, sports writer/staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.

Related Topics: BREEZY POINT CITY COUNCILGOVERNMENT AND POLITICSBREEZY POINTCHILD CARE
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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