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Planning for future growth

BAXTER — Where will future development go in Baxter?

That was the question Tuesday night as the Baxter City Council met in a joint session with its utilities commission to consider a weighty topic — the city sewer system.

“You are trying to guess where the development is going to go,” said Trevor Walter, public works director. “It’s an estimation of what’s going to develop.”

Will commercial areas like the former golf course develop? Will there be more apartment projects in residential areas along Clearwater and Grand Oaks?

“We may not see it, but it will happen some day,” Council member Rob Moser said of development. “Whatever we do, we don’t want to do it twice.”

The city’s lift station No. 2 by Excelsior and Cypress roads is already at capacity at times and was challenged by a large summer event in 2012 that brought more than 6,700 people to the city. Walter said it’s not likely the city will have fewer community events or an end to development north of Highway 210.

The joint group Tuesday talked about options and costs.

Council member Jim Klein said it doesn’t make sense to have short-range plans on sewage systems.

“You should put it in and you are done with it,” Klein said.

But larger pipes sizes, with the council talking about putting in 10-inch or 12-inch force mains, come with more capacity and more cost.

The city’s consulting engineer from Widseth Smith Nolting, Aric Welch, advised putting in the right pipe size as there are other concerns revolving around aroma from using too large of a pipe.

The utilities commission was looking for direction from the council for future direction.

The council consensus was in favor of rerouting the city’s lift station No. 3 to remove about 40 percent of existing wastewater flows from lift station No. 2. Currently lift station No. 3, which is west of the lift station No. 2, has an average daily flow of 186,000 gallons per day. By rerouting, the city could gain 100,000 gallons per day of additional capacity. Even after looking at additional wastewater needs connected to the Isle Drive extension project, the additional capacity is estimated to be the equivalent of about 288 residential homes. Last year, six home building permits were issued. With growth, if 10 permits were issued per year, the city estimated the remaining capacity would be enough for 29 years. If 25 home permits were issued per year, the capacity would be enough for 11.5 years.

Council member Todd Holman suggested this was also an opportunity for the city to refine its focus to see where building density made the most sense related to wastewater treatment. The city is able to direct, to some extent, where development goes, Holman said.

Cost options varied with scenarios. The council consensus was in favor of the lift station No. 3 reroute with more details coming back to the council in the future.

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

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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