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Swallowing the cost of protecting drinking water

BAXTER — Protecting drinking water from pollution and the costs involved came to the Baxter City Council Wednesday.

“I’m all in favor of clean safe drinking water” but Council member Jim Klein said there are costs and the bureaucracy seems like an unfunded mandate. “It all costs money.”

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword, it’s still our responsibility,” to make sure the drinking water is safe, Mayor Darrel Olson said.

The wellhead protection area for drinking water supply management includes the area around Perch and Rush lakes, south of Highway 210.

Looking at the yearly itemized costs from 2013 to 2017, council member Rob Moser said the cost could be $75,000 to $100,000 for a mixture of items from water sampling to sealing old municipal wells.

The council voted to approve the plan and took Klein’s suggestion to alter one of the zones to include a boat landing.

A representative from the Minnesota Department of Health said there are grant funds and water funds which can be used to help make water plans more cost effective and while grants won’t fund everything, Baxter was encouraged to apply for those dollars.

The wellhead protection plan public hearing is designed to make landowners aware of management strategies and give the public information on the protection needed for public water supply wells. At the hearing, the council was also accepting comments on areas where the public water supply could be in negatively affected by contaminants or conflicting land uses.

After a wellhead protection plan is approved by the council, state agencies — departments of agriculture, natural resources, pollution control and the board of water and soil resources — have 60 days to comment if the plan isn’t believed to meet protection laws. The Minnesota Department of Health has 90 days to review the plan. Once it is approved, it has to be in place within 60 days.

In other business, the council:

Tabled the disc golf course discussion at the request of Council member Jim Klein who wanted to wait until all the council members were present. Council member Mark Cross was absent Wednesday. A 9-hole disc golf course, which uses a Frisbee-like disc to play, is proposed for the wooded area next to Whipple Beach. If the course does not get any sponsors, the cost to the city is expected to be $1,023. The city’s parks and recreation commission recommended approval of the disc golf course. The subject is expected to resurface at the council’s next meeting in August.

Approved the exterior materials for the proposed remodel at Mills GMC automotive dealership, 14858 Dellwood Drive. The Architectural Review Commission approved the remodel project with specifications on color. The original building was constructed in 1984 with precast concrete panels and a metal roof.

Planned changes would put architectural metal panels on the front of the building facing Dellwood Drive, and retain the glass front with additional work on the north and south walls. But the city allows 50 percent of architectural metal panels and GMC wanted 62 percent. The commission approved the 62 percent noting the remodel is an improvement to the building, in harmony with the surrounding area, a net reduction and upgrade of signs.

The applicant also wanted to have a facade with a black band around the building with white and silver on the architectural metal panels. The auto dealership wanted to paint the remaining precast concrete panels white, but Community Development Director Bill Deblon and the Architectural Review Committee agreed to add a condition that existing concrete panels remain the same earth tone.

At the July 17 council meeting, the council approved a temporary liquor license to the Brainerd Jaycees for an event at the Mills Honda building Saturday as the company celebrates its 90th anniversary by hosting events at its various facilities.

Approved two extensions to file plats one for a minor subdivision for Grand Haven plat and one for the College Pines Office Park plat off College Drive. The Grand Haven extension was requested by the buyer of the property.

Approved the liquor license for Olive Garden Restaurant for on-sale and Sunday liquor.

Appointed Robert Bauer as a 2012 election judge. Bauer completed the necessary training and is qualified to serve as an election judge.

Renewed a services contract for marketing efforts for economic development with the Brainerd Lakes Chamber for $190 from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2013.

Approved a contract with a low bid of $33,658 for citywide road striping with AAA Striping Service Co. from St. Michael. Moser opposed.

Authorized paying Widseth Smith Nolting for Riverview Park line staking and sign installation for $1,300, representing the low quote.

Met in closed session regarding threatened litigation regarding a utility line move cost.

Will meet next at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 15 for a council workshop.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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