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Pequot Lakes: Plan to spur development wins final approval

WAC and SAC fees could be waived on existing vacant lots that already have sewer and water infrastructure

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The Pequot Lakes City Council approved a final plan to waive sewer and water availability charges - or WAC and SAC fees - for connections on certain properties to spur development on existing vacant lots where sewer and water infrastructure already exists.

Mark Jurchen presented the final proposal on behalf of the Economic Development Commission and the Workforce Housing Task Force at the council’s regular Tuesday, Dec. 7, meeting.

This program will run for five years (2022-2027) with a two-year timeframe for homes to be completed after receiving the waiver. The city will waive no more than $4,000 total for each unit, and each home must have a minimum market value of $200,000, which includes the lot.

The council heard from resident Jack Schmidt, who had questions about WAC and SAC fees after he paid a fee. Schmidt called the $2,000 connection fee an extortion fee. He also questioned why the city doesn’t base summer water usage on winter usage, saying outdoor water use in the summer goes into the ground and not into the sewer.

The council asked how the city knows how much water is used unless residents have a meter.

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Public safety

The council approved proposed fire contracts to be sent to the seven entities the Pequot Lakes Fire Department serves in addition to the city itself. Final contracts will be approved in March. Proposed numbers are lower than in 2021-2022 because of an adjustment to the way fire relief amounts are determined.

The council also approved the 2022 law enforcement contract and joint powers agreement with the city of Jenkins for $41,200, as well as a one-year Law Enforcement Labor Services police union agreement.

Police had 178 calls for service in October.

Firefighters had three calls in October, all to Pequot Lakes; and seven calls in November, including three to Pequot Lakes, two to Breezy Point and one each to Nisswa and Poplar Township (both structure fires).

In other business Dec. 7, the council:

  • Accepted the park commission’s recommendation to build the splash pad on the west side of the walking trail, south of the playground, in Trailside Park. Fundraising is underway for the amenity, with no city tax dollars being used for it.

Ideas for fundraising include having signs listing business donors and engraved tables and benches near the splash pad, and selling pavers.

  • Hired Nick Roy as a lead maintenance worker for the public works department, and Preston Dumprope as a part-time snowplow driver.

  • Accepted the 2022 agreement for professional services with the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corporation for $10,600.

  • Adopted the 2022 city fee schedule, which includes slightly higher water and sewer fees. Fees charged cover the city’s costs to provide the services.

  • Approved amendments to the city code regarding signs and regarding guest quarters within a detached accessory structure.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

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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