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Apartment owners to appeal decision on College Drive

Owners of the Colonywood Apartment complex on College Drive claim a petition received by Brainerd from Central Lakes College for the $6.9 million College Drive reconstruction project is invalid.

On Wednesday the city was served with a Notice of Appeal of Determination of Legality of Petition along with a cost bond of $250, as required by Minnesota state statute. The notice was prepared by St. Cloud-based attorneys Igor Lenzner and Gerald Von Korff, who represent the owners of the apartments, Betty and Roger Anda and Kathleen and James Martin.

In the notice the apartment owners claim that though Central Lakes College has petitioned for the project the college is not, per an opinion from the Minnesota Attorney General's office and state statute, an actual land owner because as a state entity it may not be assessed.

"We're certainly going to do all we can to see that the city's determination is upheld," Brainerd City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick said. "We believe the petition is lawful."

Lenzner could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The apartment owners intend to appeal the Brainerd City Council's acceptance of CLC's petition in Crow Wing County District Court.

The petition from CLC, presented to and accepted by the city council on Nov. 15, states that CLC is owner of not less than 35 percent in frontage of real property abutting College Drive and requested the $6.9 million alternative C of the project.

Per state statute, a city can only proceed with an improvement project and make special assessments with a supermajority vote, which in Brainerd's case is five votes, unless the city receives a petition from a property owner of not less than 35 percent of the land abutting the proposed project. In that case only a simple majority - four votes in Brainerd - are needed.

On Dec. 6 the Brainerd City Council by a 4-3 vote approved the $6.9 million alternative for the project that will include four lanes from Crow Wing County Road 48 to South Fourth Street; roundabouts at Mississippi River Parkway, Southwest Fourth Street and South Fourth Street; a stop light at Quince and South Fifth streets; trails; sidewalks; bridge improvements; pedestrian crosswalks, flashers and deterrents; and a backage road to accommodate the apartment buildings.

With its assertion that CLC is not an actual property owner on the project, the owners of the Colonywood Apartments maintain Brainerd cannot proceed with the project without supermajority five-vote approval or a petition from a significant percentage of property owners.

"The current petition is an unlawful end run around these protections," the Colonywood owners notice states.

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.