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Pequot Lakes: City to consider adopting State Building Code

The Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, March 7, agreed to look into hiring a building official to ensure new construction meets the State Building Code.

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The Pequot Lakes City Council on Tuesday, March 7, agreed to look into hiring a building official to ensure new construction meets the State Building Code.

The planning and zoning commission will research the idea and make a recommendation to the council.

Mayor Nancy Adams suggested the discussion, saying in a memo to the council that community feedback received through the Thriving Communities Initiative process revealed the need for quality housing in Pequot Lakes. That led Adams to ask the council to revisit adoption of the State Building Code for Pequot Lakes.

Fire chief Tom Nelson told the council that from a public safety standpoint, the fire department believes adopting the State Building Code would be a step in the right direction to ensure properties built today meet code.

"Right now we don't have any checks and balances as people are building," Nelson said. "There's no one going around making sure they're built to the standard."

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The council noted that surrounding communities - including Breezy Point, Pine River, Brainerd and Baxter - have a building code.

In a memo to the council, Nelson said permit fees would cover the cost to have a building official do inspections.

Maintenance facility

The council approved schematic design services for a new maintenance facility from city engineer Widseth Smith Nolting for $9,600. A new facility will be located on a new site and will include a fabric dome salt storage shed.

Results of the schematic design will be used to prepare a detailed final design and construction documents for public bidding.

The council continued discussion on a maintenance facility project after a committee analyzed alternative options for snow removal. That committee discussed options and addressed current and future equipment needs, snow removal time and costs, and city plowing areas. The committee also put together a public works equipment list.

Options presented included hiring private contractors as needed to load and remove snow to city-owned land, after the city gains 6.5 miles of road (20 percent increase) in 2018 related to the Highway 371 project. With more roads to plow, city staff would need help.

The city will receive $5 million next year from the state and Crow Wing County when those entities turn roads back to the city. The council discussed borrowing that money from itself to pay for a maintenance facility. Paying interest on the self-loan would be a cost savings to the city rather than bonding.

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Skateboard park

The council agreed to support a skateboard park concept and fundraising efforts of a skateboard park subcommittee.

The council directed the skateboard park subcommittee and park commission to work with the city planner to determine a potential location for the skateboard park. The council must ultimately approve the location.

The subcommittee has an opportunity to apply for a $12,000 grant for the skateboard park. No city funding is to go toward the park, except for ongoing maintenance.

Public safety

The council approved the 2017 fire protection agreement with the city of Nisswa for $1,657.27, which covers the operating costs of the Nisswa Fire Department and the costs of the Firemen's Relief Association. The Nisswa Fire Department provides fire protection to the Inland Trails area of Pequot Lakes.

Planning and zoning

The council:

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• Amended an ordinance to reduce the minimum lot size to 2.5 acres and the minimum lot width to 150 feet in the Transitional Residential Zone.

The Transitional Residential Zone provides a residential classification that serves as a medium-density buffer between higher density zones and lower density areas. The Transitional Residential and Rural Residential zones both had minimum lot sizes of 5 acres.

The planning commission unanimously recommended the ordinance amendment, saying the amendment creates a more flexible ordinance that allows property owners the ability to subdivide larger existing tracts.

• Approved an amendment to the comprehensive plan updating the future land use map to include the new Highway 371 alignment. The new highway is the new dividing line for urban and rural properties.

• Amended the ordinance requiring 30-foot wetland setbacks in all zoning classifications.

In other business March 7, the council:

• Acknowledged the resignation of Billie Jean Caouette from the Park Commission.

• Adopted the local water supply plan.

Council member Jerry Akerson was absent.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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