Northern Township

NORTHERN TOWNSHIP BOARD OF SUPERVISORS – Tuesday, May 28, 2024, Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Road NW, Bemidji, MN, 6:00 p.m. Tonight’s meeting is being held on Tuesday due to the Memorial Day Legal Holiday Monday.

PRESENT: Supervisors Jess Frenzel, Curt Blumhagen, Gary Barnard, and Mike Kelly. Consultant Mark Borseth, Road Supervisor Tim Vigen, and Clerk Mary Israelson. Absent: Administrator Chris Lahn. See sign in book for guests.


1) V-2024-001, Thomas McDermott: Parcel # 31.01089.00, 5509 Mallard Lane NE. Mr. McDermott requested a variance to build a 10’ deck addition to an existing deck in the shoreland overlay district on a nonconforming lot. A public hearing was held before the planning commission on May 20, 2024, and the Findings of Fact from that were read. The planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the application.

Blumhagen offered a motion to accept the recommendation for the variance to be granted, and Barnard seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously.

2) V-2024-002, Jon Miskavige: Parcel # 31.01093.00, 5411 Swan Lane NE. The request is for a variance of 39’ from the 100’ setback requirement to build a patio and underground swimming pool on the lakeside of the property. A public hearing was held before the planning commission on May 20, 2024, and the Findings of Fact from that were read. The planning commission voted 3 to 2 to recommend approval of the application.

Kelly is opposed to the request due to there being another location to the south side of the house that the pool could be constructed without needing a variance, and he does not believe there is “practical difficulty” demonstrated in the request. A motion was then offered by Kelly to deny the request to approve, with Barnard seconding the motion. A roll call vote was taken; Barnard – yes, Kelly – yes, Blumhagen – no, and Frenzel – yes. The application was denied.

3) V-2024-003. Tim Larson was present on behalf of property owner Daniel Swingen, Parcel #31.01389.00, 3927 Waville Rd NE. The variance request is twofold. 1) A variance of 959 sq ft from the maximum total sq ft allowed for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU), and 2) A variance of 5’ for the ADU above the height of the principle structure on the same property. Section 604 of the ordinance states that, 1) The maximum size of an ADU may be no more than 50% of the sq footage of the principal dwelling unit or 800 sq ft, whichever is less, 2) The height of the ADU shall not exceed the height of the principle structure. A public hearing was held before the planning commission on May 20, 2024, and the Findings of Fact from that were read. The planning commission vote was; 2 – yes, 2 – no, and 1 abstention, so there was no recommendation.

After some discussion, it was a general feeling that this type of use makes more sense to be located on the non-lake side of the property and is consistent with other similar properties along the lake. Therefore, amendments were made to #1 and #3 of the Finding of Fact from no’s to yes’s. A motion was offered by Frenzel, and seconded by Barnard, to approve the application with the following roll call vote; Barnard – yes, Kelly – yes, Blumhagen – yes, and Frenzel – yes.

Frenzel thanked the members of the Planning Commission who were present, and indicated that there are areas of our Planning and Zoning Ordinance that do need to be worked on and amended.

Chairman Frenzel called the regular meeting to order at 6:59 p.m.

MINUTES: A motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Blumhagen, to approve the minutes of the May 13, 2024, meeting as presented. The motion carried unanimously.


Wayne Coombs is a Northern Township Planning Commission member and indicted that he feels he has a better understanding now of how the town board wants to proceed with variance requests.

Nora Illies asked if the Board was interested in her setting up a Facebook page for the township. She was directed to talk with Lahn.


Re-gravel – Vigen reported that he was initially set up to spread 1500 yds, but has determined that 1750 – 1800 cy is needed. Roads needing gravel are; West Way, Vincent, Claire, E Lake Movil, Cottonwood, Sunset, and east/west portion of Peace. It was agreed that he use up to 1800 cy.

Ditch Mowing – Mike Lucas has done the mowing for many years, but has recently decided to retire. Vigen reported that Travis Kelm can do it, and it was agreed to try him and see how he does.

Road Tour – This is still being worked on for possible dates.


Mark Borseth was present filling in for Lahn, who is on vacation this week;

  • The state legislature recessed without approving a bonding bill, but will hopefully do that first thing when they adjourn in January.
  • Amy Klobuchar is moving our request forward in congress, with Pete Stauber still supporting it.
  • Ehlers, Inc – Will do a Source and Use Plan for phase I of the proposed wastewater treatment system for a fee of $1,500. This will give the Board a good idea of the various financial debt options, and was felt needed at this point. A motion was offered by Barnard, and seconded by Blumhagen, to approve the expense. The motion carried unanimously.
  • A meeting is suggested to be held with the residents of Lavinia Road, since there will be major traffic issues if/when the wastewater system is constructed in that area. This meeting will be scheduled in July sometime.
  • The EPA is requiring that the proper process for selecting an engineering firm for the wastewater project be done, so a proof of the request for proposal ad was reviewed. It will be published June 1st and is required to run 30 days. A meeting will be held July 1st at 5:00 p.m. to make the selection. In the meantime Freeberg & Grund will limit the work that they have already done.

A motion was offered by Kelly, and seconded by Blumhagen, to approve the ad and call for the meeting. The motion carried unanimously.

  • Utility Project – some discussion is taking place, with another meeting scheduled, to talk about a possible bike trail along the Ruttger’s property, to be included with the Birchmont Beach Road reconstruction.
  • The Ordinance is being reviewed for amendments, and will include a review of paving requirements for parking areas.
  • One of the variances approved tonight will be forwarded to the Mississippi Headwaters Board for their approval.
  • There are three (3) public hearings to be conducted before the planning commission in June, and then will come before the Board June 24th.
  • Schulke – Lahn has met with the owner of this recycling business in order to try and get the property into compliance with the existing conditional use permit (CUP). It is felt that he be give 30 days to meet the conditions, or apply for a new CUP due to the expansions over time. Lahn will make that determination.
  • Fairgrounds Road LRIP project – The plans are 90% complete, with Kelly offering a motion to approve them, with Blumhagen seconding. The motion carried unanimously.


A meeting was held with Surveyor Matt Murray to discuss possible amendments to the plat, prior to the expansion being done. He indicated that this might be difficult due to it needing to be vacated first, and half has been developed with deeds issued to owners of the lots. The process is being reviewed by County staff.


An estimate of costs has been received from the architect. Some discussion was held to possibly cut back on some items and to work on proposals for designs.


1) Cemetery information from other area cemeteries, 2) Flagpole Solutions list of supplies, 3) Request for Proposals for Engineering Firms, 4) Letter sent to property owner on Aspen Ave with nuisance farm animals straying from their property, 5) copy of plans for Fairgrounds Road.


Lavinia Road – A meeting is scheduled with Dave Schotzko, from the DNR, to discuss the proposed road/sewer project along this road.

With no further business forthcoming, the meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.