Northern Township

NORTHERN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS – Monday, June 12, 2023. Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Road NW, Bemidji, MN.

PRESENT: Supervisors Jess Frenzel, Curt Blumhagen, Gary Barnard, Mike Kelly, and Chris Lahn. Treasurer Doug Kranich, Road Supervisor Tim Vigen and Clerk Mary Israelson. See sign-in sheet for guests.

5:00 P.M. – Birchmont Court NE Informational Meeting.

Chairman Frenzel opened the meeting informing the group that the reason for this meeting was to explain that the Board is attempting to establish a recorded right-of-way (ROW) along the Birchmont Court NE roadway. Proper road maintenance requires approximately 66 ft of ROW area in order to maneuver equipment and to place snow in the wintertime, and is the requirement for most all township roads. This road poses an assortment of issues whereby the 66 ft is likely not realistic, but it has been staked depicting a 50 ft ROW area.

Matt Murray, Murray Surveying, explained that he has done quite a bit of research on this matter and has found that the original road petition was brought before the Beltrami County Board in 1913. There was quite a bit of detail in the minutes of the meetings, but the facts regarding the established width of the road were never documented or recorded. And according to MN Statute, a road is established by “use”.

Mark Fuller, Freeberg & Grund Engineering, indicated that there might be some wiggle room as it relates to the area that is staked at a 50 ft width, but this is close to a bare minimum for a proper roadway and anything less would need to be justified. Curb/gutter might also be used, but does require an outlet for the drainage. He is open to meeting with individual property owners, to look at specific issues and to work with them.

It was also pointed out that property owners have dealt with ROW questions when it relates to obtaining permits for building, landscaping, etc., and this would help alleviate those issues. When asked about the possibility of vacating the road, the group was informed that they could consider that option by submitting a Petition to Vacate, and the Board would be required to consider it. The road would then become a private road and the property owners would be responsible for all maintenance, repairs and improvements.

When asked about the status of a township sewer/water project in this area, it was reported that the City of Bemidji has reconsidered their original offer to provide the services to the Township without annexation. The Township was successful in obtaining a $5 million Federal Grant for wastewater treatment for this area along Lake Bemidji and is now considering other options for providing the services. This would likely only involve wastewater treatment and not municipal water, and could be located in an area whereby Birchmont Court might not be included. The County’s Birchmont Beach Road re-construction project is key to the timing of this project, so there are some timeline considerations.

The meeting closed at 6:13 p.m.

6:00 P.M. – Public Hearing for the Vacation of Jon Avenue.

Jon Avenue was originally established as a road in the Plat of Wrightwood Acres. The roadway, as it lies at this time, does not follow the platted road corridor and there are some encroachment issues as a result of that. The purpose of vacating the platted roadway, is to establish a new roadway known as Fairgrounds Road and has been recorded as Northern Township Road Right of Way Plat No.1. This process is being completed in order to prepare to apply for some State funding if/when it becomes available for safety improvements to the road.

Gerald and Debby Wisk, were present representing Northdale Oil, and questioned the re-location of a power box that would be affected with an improvement project. It was agreed that the box would likely require moving, and will be looked at closer when/if a project is scheduled. This would need to be a cooperative effort between all involved.

With no further comments forthcoming, a motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Barnard, to approve Northern Township Resolution #2023-0619 Order Vacating a Town Road. The motion carried unanimously.

The required Deed documents have been obtained from the affected property owners, and will be recorded along with the Resolution to complete the process.

MINUTES: A motion was offered by Blumhagen, and seconded by Barnard, to approve the minutes of the May 22, 2023, meeting as presented. The motion carried unanimously.


Mark Borseth, who has been recently hired as the Township’s Planning Administrator, was present via Microsoft Teams.


Lahn reported that he listened to a Webinar regarding the Federal grant funds, and found out that there is no expiration date on the use of the funds. Fuller was asked and presented a very broad cost estimate for a possible larger project, as well as operation costs for the initial year. Of course there are many unknowns at this time, especially since a potential location for a treatment site hasn’t been determined. Barnard has talked with the regional head of DNR Lands & Minerals, and the consideration of a land lease might be a possibility. He will try and get more information regarding this concept, before any further action is taken to begin the next step in the process.


Wild Plum – Matt Murray is working on contacting the property owners that easements would be required for the possible improvements. Frenzel will make contact with State of MN representative.

Fairgrounds Road – Fuller reported that the topo work has started, and then they will begin work on the design for proposed improvements.

Tavistock/S. Movil Lake Roads – The blacktop contractor has indicated that they are anticipating a mid-August date for the work to be done. The mailboxes will be replaced by the contractor after the blacktopping is complete.

Crack Filling – Vigen received a quote from Pitch Black Sealcoating for the work to be done on Town Hall, Aspen, and Whiting Roads, totaling $21,416.64. A motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Lahn, to approved the quote. The motion carried unanimously. It was noted that this work is crack sealing and should not be mistaken for crack leveling, which is much more intensive and expensive.

Catch Basins – The clean-out work was done along S. Movil Lake Road.


Lahn reported that the consultant that worked on the Comp Plan determined that in order for it to be broken down for each entity, a new plan for each would be needed. Therefore, they have asked that Freeberg & Grund Engineering give them a quote to break up the Comp Plan and the Ordinance. It is felt that this work should be paid from JPB funds to help take down the fund balance that will need to be divided in the end.

After some discussion, it was agreed that a letter would be presented indicating that Northern Township will end it’s JPB involvement at the end of 2023, contingent on the committee meeting at least once per month to work out the details of the dissolution, and that the comp plan and maps be separated for each of the entities. A motion was offered by Blumhagen, and seconded by Lahn, to approve the Chair writing a letter indicating this, and the motion carried unanimously.

There are two (2) cases to be dealt with; 1) Ice cream/coffee shop in Northern Township, and 2) cell phone tower near the airport. Also, the County Board is dealing with the selection of the site for a new proposed jail facility. There has been a lot of controversy from the neighborhood near where the site is located.


Blumhagen reported that they are dealing with a fire engine that broke down, with up to $55,000 in repairs. Kelly is still working on getting the bookkeeping transferred.


There is a meeting being proposed for June to address some proposed MAT By-law amendments.


Bills – Kranich reported that this month’s bills are payable with check numbers 11511 to 11537, totaling $139,335.73. Check #11095 for $400 was written to Turtle River Township in January of 2022, was never cashed and has been misplaced, so it is being replaced with Check #11537. The larger payments are; the Rural Fire 1st half payment of $101,450.50, and Johnson Construction – $15,177.70, that includes work on the Tavistock/S. Movil Lake Road project for $10,892.70. A motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Lahn, to pay the bills as presented. The motion carried unanimously.

Treasurer Report: Cash by Fund balances are; Revenue – $180,534.87, Road & Bridge – $816,380.86, Rural Fire – $4,513.20, Sewer District Waville – $ 8,023.69, and American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds – $227,369.87, for a total of $1,236,822.49. A motion was offered by Blumhagen, seconded by Lahn, and carried, to approve the report as presented.

Certificates of Deposit: Kranich recommended that $355,000 of the maturing CDs be reinvested as follows; $150,000 for I year at 4.65%, and $205,000 for 30 days at Security Bank at 4.60%. Consensus was given.


  1. Quote for crack sealing, 2) notice of Road Vacation Hearing for Jon Ave, 3) letter to Birchmont Court property owners regarding meeting establishing road right-of-way, 4) notice of detour plan for Loop the Lake Festival set for Saturday June 18th, 5) North Country Snowmobile Club Landowner Appreciation Dinner invite, 6) 2022 Population Estimate from State Demographer, 7) Beltrami County Historical Society notice of Bicentennial events.

State Demographer – The 2022 population estimate is 3,883, and the household estimate is 1,454.


Bathrooms – The contractor has yet to repair the hands-free toilet function, and Kelly will contact him.

Mark Borseth – It was agreed that Barnard and Lahn will be appointed as the board members who will be the contacts for Borseth as he transitions into his position with the township.

With no further business forthcoming, the meeting was adjourned at 7:59 p.m.