Northern Township

Dear Northern Township Property Owner;

 The Northern Township Board wanted to follow up the informational meeting we had in the Fall of 2021 with our residents regarding an annexation proposal from the City of Bemidji to provide sewer and water services around the north and west shoreline of Lake Bemidji. We would like so summarize what we heard from those that attended, and also what we have been working on in the months since that meeting.


The main takeaway that our board took from the meeting was that our residents support efforts to protect Lake Bemidji from septic pollution, but were overwhelmingly opposed to a new round of annexation, and were not interested in opening up new areas to possible future annexation. We as a board still believe strongly that to protect the interests of our township residents, as well as our natural resources, we need to continue to explore options for getting a sewer and water system in place around Lake Bemidji, without annexation. With the substandard lots and continued development in this area, we know it isn’t a best practice to continue to allow and encourage individual septic systems and wells in these sensitive areas. Additionally, if we just ignore this issue, we will continue to have this discussion and debate with annexation and sewer and water into perpetuity. We also learned from some residents that this discussion has been going on since the late 60’s and we believe we don’t have another 50 years to try and figure out how to protect Lake Bemidji while still able to maintain our current township borders.


The Northern Township Board had many discussions and debates regarding the information we learned and ultimately decided to approach the City of Bemidji and reiterate the point that our residents want to help protect Lake Bemidji, but it could not be at the 100% expense and sacrifice of our township. We proposed the idea of a cooperative project where if the City of Bemidji would extend the services, Northern Township would do a study of all septic systems in the affected area and require any failing systems to hook up as soon as the services were available, and then monitor in the future all non-connected properties to ensure compliance. We would also no longer allow new septic systems and wells to be installed in this area but require all new development to immediately connect. We also discussed that due to these residents continuing to be Northern Township Residents we would not object to some type of reasonable surcharge for these services above what a City Resident currently pays, since the city would be providing services to Northern Township property owners,


A couple of weeks later the Bemidji City Council and the Northern Township Board met again, and the city proposed 6 different options that they could support for extending sewer and water services to the north side of Lake Bemidji. Five of the six options involved some type of annexation now or in the future for services to be extended, with one additional option that the City of Bemidji would agree to sell these services to Northern Township Residents but the entire expense of installation of the system would be the responsibility of Northern Township and its residents.


 The Northern Township Board then discussed these options and immediately eliminated those that included annexation. Though the idea of Northern Township funding a project of this magnitude alone is unreasonable, we believe that regional significance, connection to natural resource and water quality protection, and a significant amount of local project support, provides a unique opportunity to seek financial assistance for a large portion of the project. Additionally, timing of this project would save considerable construction cost if we are able to complete it in conjunction with Beltrami County’s highway 20 project slated for completion in 2024. This is potentially an 8 million dollar plus project, an amount unreasonable to assess out, but rather we would need bonding, grants, or possible long-term financing of some sort to make this happen.


 Northern Township then began discussions with local businesses and agencies that could be potentially affected regarding their needs and capabilities, and it was decided to proceed with a bonding request to the State of Minnesota. We have worked with Representative Matt Bliss to submit funding proposals for the 2022 Legislative Session. There are two separate files that have been submitted (HF3500 and HF3501), one fore state bonding and one for the possibility of Lessard Sams Outdoor Heritage Funding. Additionally, we began to explore long-term financing options if alternative funding falls short of total project costs. We also have looked into other potential grants but for various reasons this project did not qualify. We also have submitted a request for Federal assistance in conjunction with Beltrami County working through United States Representative Pete Stauber. These are all works in progress and we hope to have some answers on what expenses can be assisted with and what can not be in the next couple months.


 This project has an incredible amount of local support that we hope will be advantageous in securing funding. We have received letters of support from many different agencies and jurisdictions including a resolution of support from the Beltrami County Commissioners, a letter of support from the City of Bemidji, Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce, Greater Bemidji, Friends of Lake Bemidji, Minnesota Association of Townships, and Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge. The Department of Natural Resources, Regional Office and Bemidji State Park verbally support the project but are prohibited from providing letter of support for State Legislation. We are still actively working on garnering additional support and are exploring assistance at the State Capitol on how to help get momentum and our file pushed forward for a hearing this spring.


 We will be having additional meetings with the City of Bemidji on what a final agreement would look like in regards to maintenance on the line, billing, and what kind of fees would be charged, including hook up expenses.


 We are sure that there will be many questions as this process continues to develop. Until we get answers from our bonding requests and agreements with the City it is very difficult to give cost estimates or timelines on when this can potentially happen. We are working on as expedited a schedule as we possibly can and we know time is of the essence due to needs of our constituency and some of the potential agencies involved, but it will take some time and patience by us all.


 The Northern Town Board felt it was important to keep all of you as informed as possible and we hope to have a meeting to the public sometime this summer when we can have a larger gathering and hopefully have some more details filled in.


 Thank you for your interest and if we can assist with any concerns we will do our best so please don’t hesitate to attend any of our Northern Town Board Meetings with questions. We hold our meetings on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month at the Northern Town Hall at 6:00 pm.




 The Northern Township Board