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Dispute hearing likely to be avoided for city, Oak Lawn Township

A county hearing between the city of Brainerd and Oak Lawn Township will likely be avoided after the parties came to a compromise in a road construction dispute.

At a special meeting Tuesday, the Oak Lawn Township Board unanimously agreed to pay half of a street project, with Faith Baptist Church agreeing to pay the other half.

At issue is a section of 28th Street with township jurisdiction on one side, or 490 feet, and the city of Brainerd on the other. The street will undergo a reconstruction project next year.

Faith Baptist Church sits on the 490 feet of street in question.

The back and forth between the city and township started a few months ago after Oak Lawn Township opted out of the improvement project and declined to contribute to the cost of the project, which will add curb and gutter.

In response, the city of Brainerd petitioned the Crow Wing County Board to settle the dispute. A hearing was set for Aug. 26, but the county asked the two to give it one more go in settling the issue before the hearing.

In that effort, Tuesday's meeting was the second joint session between the city and township.

The township's Tuesday vote will go before the Brainerd City Council at its next meeting.

This section of the project is estimated to cost about $42,000, or about $21,000 for both the church and the township.

The county hearing will likely be avoided with the township's and church's agreement, said City Administrator Patrick Wussow.

City Council member Gary Scheeler, who represented the council in meetings with the township, said he's happy the groups reached an agreement where "everybody's happy."

Both Scheeler and Wussow said the meetings between the township and city have been civil and a step toward mending a bumpy back and forth between the two groups.

"The relationship should be repaired, just like the road," Wussow said.

In a second motion Tuesday, the township unanimously agreed to ask the city to refund the township should the 490 feet of 28th Street be annexed within the next 15 years.

More specifically, the township is asking that should the area be annexed in the first five years, that the city pay back the full amount the township paid in repairs (an estimated $21,000). In every year after that, 10 percent would be taken off. For example, in year six, for the city to repay 90 percent. In year seven, 80 percent. That would decrease until 15 years, when that refund would be zero.

The city council will discuss the request at its next meeting, but Scheeler says he will not agree to it. Instead, he thinks the township should request that of the church.

"If we need to get sewer and water down there in the future, we're going to need annexation," he said. "We need the flexibility if (the church or future owner) wants to annex because of sewer and water."

Though the upcoming project does not include sewer and water work, Scheeler said it could eventually be needed, such as if a well goes bad.

Jessie Perrine
Jessie covers the Brainerd City Council and the Brainerd School Board. Born and raised in southern Minnesota, Jessie attended Winona State University, where she majored in journalism with a minor in women and gender studies. She worked at the Winona Daily News, Tomah Journal and the La Crosse Tribune before starting at the Dispatch in 2012.
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