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College Drive court fight going to appeals court

The owners of the Colonywood Apartment complex are appealing a district court rejection of their lawsuit against the city regarding the College Drive reconstruction project. 

City Attorney Tom Fitzpatrick on Monday informed the Brainerd City Council that the apartment complex owners, Roger and Betty Anda and Kathleen and James Martin, filed with the Minnesota Court of Appeals on Friday. The city, he said, has until Sept. 12 to provide the court with its reply. 

The Andas and Martins sued the city on Dec. 15 in Crow Wing County District Court, claming a petition received by Central Lakes College that allowed the project to move forward with a simple majority council approval was invalid because the college was not a property owner and therefore not subject to assessments. 

In rejecting the Andas’ and Martins’ claim, Crow Wing County Judge Erik Askegaard wrote state statute doesn’t provide a definition for the term “owner” and that there was no dispute that CLC is an owner of that property as meant by the common and approved definition of the term. 

In other action, the council:

Approved having City Engineer Jeff Hulsether notify Pratt Affordable Excavating about water damage done to two residences on South Sixth Street during Saturday’s thunderstorm. The residences are located along the road construction project on the South Sixth Street frontage road and were flooded during Saturday’s thunderstorm because of sandbags that had been placed on the storm water grates. Council member Kelly Bevans abstained because of a damage claim he has on a north Brainerd project. 

Heard a brief presentation from Kathy Bjork, owner of the Fine Line Salon on North Fourth Street. Bjork employs 36 people are her business.

Appointed council President Mary Koep to the Transportation Committee by a 3-2 vote, with council members Kelly Bevans and Bonnie Cumberland against. Council members Lucy Nesheim and Kevin Goedker were absent. Koep’s term expires Dec. 31. 

While Koep is knowledgeable and enthusiastic about transportation issues, Cumberland said she would prefer a non-elected citizen to serve on the committee. 

Koep noted that of the four new members appointed at the first of the year, one had resigned and another is working four days a week in Aitkin. Koep said her concern was that there are two Crow Wing County commissioners on the committee but only one city council liaison, Dale Parks. 

Council member Bob Olson said he would vote for Koep because the term ends at the first of the year but he also shared Cumberland’s concerns. 

Adjourned to a 2012 budget work session at 6 p.m. on Aug. 29. 

Approved updating the police officer eligibility list. The police department has a vacancy because of Officer Paul Dooley’s promotion to sergeant and Chief Corky McQuiston noted it’s likely the department will have a retirement in 2012. 

Approved with a 4-1 vote purchasing two squad cars for the police department, including equipment, at a cost not to exceed $76,000. McQuiston noted personnel savings in 2011 amounted to $64,000. 

Olson voted against because he felt the city should wait until December when it has a clearer picture of the 2012 budget. He made a motion to table the request but it died without being seconded. 

It was noted the vehicles would be purchased out of the 2011 budget and Cumberland said the city needed to act quickly, otherwise the vehicles might not be available. 

Approved the police sergeants arbitration award which calls for a 3 percent age increase effective Dec. 31, 2010, and an additional 1 percent wage increase effective Jan. 1, 2011. 

The award was made by an arbitrator and City Administrator Dan Vogt noted during the Personnel and Finance Committee that the city had offered a 1 percent wage increase in 2010 and a zero percent increase in 2011. 

As essential employees, police officers and sergeants are eligible for binding arbitration, Vogt said. 

Approved having Fire Chief Kevin Stunek proceed to 100 percent of the chief’s salary, $6,507 per month, with his completion of one year of employment on Aug. 6. The council also approved changing McQuiston’s status from probationary to regular with his completion of one year of employment on Aug. 5. There is no change in McQuiston’s wage because he was hired at 100 percent of the chief’s salary.

Approved the installation of three street lights on Clearview Lane in the Northtown Addition.

Approved the closure of Front Street between South Sixth and South Eighth streets and South Seventh Street between Front and Laurel streets for the Street Fest of 7th sponsored by the Brainerd Jaycees. The event will be held on Sept. 3. 

Was informed by Cumberland that she and Olson met with staff regarding the city-wide cleanup effort and reviewed a list on questions and concerns. Cumberland said the plan is to continue the clean-up effort, city-wide garage sale and alley clean-up in 2012 because this year’s effort was a success.

MATT ERICKSON may be reached at or 855-5857.

Becca Clemens
After graduating high school in 2004, I attended Central Lakes College in Staples, MN for 2 years where I got a diploma in Communication Art and Design. I then transfered up to Bemidji State University in, you guessed it, Bemidji, MN. In the spring of 2009, I graduated from BSU. Then in the fall of 2009 I got a job at Echo Publishing, a sister company to the Brainerd Dispatch.