NORTHERN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS – Monday, November 28, 2022. Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Road NW, Bemidji, MN.
PRESENT: Chairman Jess Frenzel, and Supervisors Chris Lahn, Curt Blumhagen, Mike Kelly, and Gary Barnard. Road Supervisor Tim Vigen and Clerk Mary Israelson. See sign-in sheet for guests.
MINUTES: A motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Blumhagen, to approve the minutes of the November 14, 2022, meeting as presented. The motion carried unanimously.
Incorporation Discussion: Attorney Jason Kuboushek joined the meeting via our Microsoft Teams link, and Chairman Frenzel introduced the topic by summarizing the outcome of the meetings that were held with residents of the township. The responses the Board has received regarding whether or not the Township should continue investigating the concept of becoming a city have been largely in favor of pursuing it. This topic has been discussed many times by many boards throughout the past 30-40 years, and it just seems like this is the time to finally act. The Township is dealing with several big issues at this time, with the proposed extension of sewer/water services along the north end of Lake Bemidji, and the dissolving of the joint planning organization with the City of Bemidji.
Kuboushek indicated that the first step would be to gather the appropriate information to prepare the draft Resolution and the Petition of the intent to incorporate. Then, the government entities adjacent to Northern Township are sent notice of the intent, along with the draft Resolution, and asked to respond within 30 days whether or not they support the proposal. A comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance for Northern Township will need to be lined up as part of the process. Frenzel and Kelly will be meeting with a sub-committee this week, to talk about the process of dissolving the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning organization. Some clarity of when this will happen is necessary as part of the process to complete the incorporation petition.
Barnard offered a motion to hire/retain Jason Kuboushek, of Iverson Reuvers Law Offices, to prepare the necessary work and guide us through the process to incorporate into a City. The motion was seconded by Blumhagen, and carried unanimously with a vote; Barnard – yes, Kelly – yes, Frenzel – yes, Lahn – yes, and Blumhagen – yes.
It was felt that this is a huge step for Northern Township with wide spreading affects. We have the proper resources, in that we have been acting like a small city for a long time. It was further agreed that this action is for the greater good of the township, with better access to funding for possible infrastructure needs, as one example. A proposed name for the new city would need to be determined, and might be a bit controversial, since Northern, MN, might not be the best choice. Work will begin to prepare the proper documents needed for the Resolution and Petition, probably after the first of the new year when more is known about the ending of the joint planning organization.
The call with Kuboushek ended at 6:44 p.m.
Brushing – It was agreed that Vigen continue to work with Randy Lofgren to have more brushing and tree removal done as needed.
Elliot Road – A new maintenance agreement is being worked on with the City of Bemidji, for the maintenance of Elliot Road. Prior to the blacktopping of the road, the City was handling the summer maintenance, and Northern Twp the Winter. Now that the road is blacktopped, it is proposed that all the maintenance will be done in two year rotations, with the Township taking care of it until May of 2023, and then the City will take it the next two years, etc.
JOINT PLANNING BOARD (JPB) REPORT:
Planning cases at the recent meeting included a variance for a cell phone tower, and reports included some followup on CUP conditions. Some additional rezoning needs are being considered for the area along Hwy 71 and Alpine Road.
Budget – Frenzel reported that this has not been voted on by the LGU’s, but a 20% increase in fees by each is expected. He had indicated that Northern would have to go through their budget process prior to acting on any increase in fees paid.
Kelly offered a motion to NOT approve the JPB Budget, with the 20% proposed increase in fees paid to the organization by the LGUs. Blumhagen seconded the motion. The motion carried with the following vote; Barnard – yes, Kelly – yes, Lahn – yes, Blumhagen – yes, and Frenzel – no. Frenzel felt that a conversation was needed first, and the budget and the 20% increase had not been approved, so this vote was not needed or necessary.
1) Note from Planning Commission member Allen Steffen indicating that he would like to continue with another term, 2) email to/from MPCA contact Alana Serviss indicating that they were considering the extension request on the Stipulation Agreement with Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge, 3) email complaint from resident that trash cans were hit along Town Hall Road, 4) complaint regarding storage of boats and campers in the front yard of a residence, 5) information regarding additional rezoning along Hwy 71, 6) updated preliminary estimate of the extension of sewer/water services along the north end of Lake Bemidji.
Extension of Utilities from City of Bemidji – Fenzel attended the City Council meeting and was not allowed to speak since his topic was not on the agenda, but then the matter was included in some information in the ‘consent agenda’, so it was discussed. There was no clear indication from the Council of receiving a new letter of intent from them, which is needed for the new bonding request.
Trash Cans – The Clerk did reply to this email complaint, indicating that the trash cans were likely in the road right-of-way, which is a hazard to road maintenance equipment and motorists, and it is a problem when trash day and a snow event occur at the same time. It was suggested that the cans be placed in driveways behind the line of mailboxes.
MPCA – It has been reported that Ruttger’s did receive their request for extension of their Stipulation Agreement with the MPCA.
Complaint – An unsigned Complaint was received from a resident regarding the storage of boats and campers in the front yard of a residence. Melissa, from the JPB office, did look at this property and confirmed that there was no violation of the Ordinance. It was also determined by the planning administrator that complaints that are not signed will not be investigated.
State Park Bath Rooms – Lahn reported that Michael Granlund has approached him regarding a township contribution to the bathroom upgrade project at Bemidji State Park. It was suggested that the request be made at the Annual Meeting.
PPL List – It was agreed that the proper work be done to get the proposed sewer/water extension project on this list.
Website – Lahn was able to put the video of the recent informational meeting regarding Incorporation on the Township Website using a YouTube link, since our carrier isn’t able to support it. He suggested that our storage capacity be upgraded to a Business package including 50GB at $300/year, instead of the standard package being used – $180/year. It was agreed to do the upgrade.
Beltrami County Board Meeting – Frenzel was prepared to attend the December 13 meeting, but due to a heavy agenda that day, he was asked to attend on December 20th instead. He will ask for their support with a new bonding request for the extension of utilities to the north end of Lake Bemidji.
December Meetings – Frenzel asked that a 2nd meeting in the month be considered. Monday, December 26th is a legal holiday, so he suggested that consideration be made to meet the 27th instead.
Staff – Consideration to hire staff for land use planning purposes should be done in the near future. A Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance will need to be created, with those used by the JPB as a good start.
Legislature – A meeting with Rep Matt Grossell will be requested, and some consideration for a lobbyist will be investigated.
With no further business forthcoming, the meeting was adjourned at 7:46 p.m.