Pine River chamber director introduces community membership option

The council also approved an ordinance amendment regulating "blight" properties in the city.

Close-up of the newer Pine River city water tower.

PINE RIVER — Pine River Chamber Director John Carlson introduced a new chamber membership level to the Pine River City Council during the Tuesday, May 9, regular meeting.

Carlson said the chamber currently sits at 128 members, with three new members added that day. There are several tiers of membership, with one tier reserved for those who wish to be members even though they don't own a business.

These community memberships, formerly associate memberships, cost $50. At a chamber meeting the same day, Carlson received approval to change the community memberships slightly to give back to the Pine River business community directly.

Of the $50 membership fee, $10 will go into a community improvement fund overseen by Carlson and a committee. Members may then submit proposals for the use of those funds to improve the Pine River business community with gestures such as buying flowers for building exteriors or similar.

The community membership is often popular among retired people who were once part of the chamber. It allows them to remain members connected to the chamber even after their lives have taken them out of the business community.


Public hearing

A public hearing on a zoning ordinance pertaining to keeping female chickens and ducks preceded the regular meeting.

The amendment to the city ordinances was approved in April, but a hearing was necessary for approval of the zoning amendment.

Hearing set May 9 for amendment to zoning ordinance

The city received no comments, written, by phone or in person at the meeting. At the regular meeting, the council made note of the lack of comments and approved the zoning amendment.

Blight ordinance

The council approved an ordinance amendment regulating "blight" properties in the city, which have features the city considers unsightly — specifically, junk vehicles and trash.

Before passage of the nuisance ordinance amendment, the council agreed to remove regulations pertaining to window frames and chipped paint. Mayor Tamara Hansen said those regulations seemed to regulate properties based on financial issues.

Headline News from The PineandLakes Echo Journal

The ordinance still regulated residential broken windows, graffiti, structural integrity, outdoor furniture and blocked entrances and exits. Similar restrictions exist for commercial properties, including materials and equipment being stored visible to adjoining properties.

The council passed the ordinance with the understanding that they might tighten the timeline for compliance to remediation at the request of Police Chief Paul Sand. Council member Tony Desanto preferred that they table the ordinance and approve it once the changes were made.

New Norway Brook Dam improves fish passage on the Pine River

Hansen said she wanted the ordinance to go into effect soon because potential developers had reviewed the city and turned it down because some properties made the city appear unsuitable to the customers of those developments.


The ordinance amendment is meant to prevent that in the future.

In other business May 9, the council:

  • Received notice that the Norway Brook Dam project was selected to become the 2023 American Public Works Association Project of the Year at the federal level, with a ceremony in July. The project also won a state APWA award in 2022.
  • Preapproved a liquor license and gambling permit for Robert Walton's Damsite Supper Club, pending all paperwork and state approvals to ensure Walton does not have to wait an extra month if his construction is complete between council meetings and his establishment is then ready to open.

The Pine River Area Foundation would be the beneficiary and charitable organization behind the charitable gambling there.

  • Learned the fire department is applying for a Department of Natural Resources grant to partially cover the cost of wildland fire gear.
  • Learned the city's water treatment plant project is ready but on hold until the Legislature reaches an agreement on a bonding bill and related funds.

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 began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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