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Crosslake largely adopts county land use ordinances

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

After nearly seven months handling planning and zoning for the city of Crosslake, Crow Wing County heard an update Tuesday.

Chris Pence, land services supervisor, said two full-time staff members were hired and John Sumption, former Cass County environmental services director is a consultant.

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Pence said the Crosslake City Council Monday reduced zoning categories from 16 to seven, reduced pages in the city ordinance from about 339 to 160 and changed the zoning map.

Pence said zoning ordinances are now more in line with the county. Mark Wessels, Crosslake council member, who said he was speaking for himself as an East Shore Drive resident and not for the council, thanked the board.

Wessels said the council had a lot of critics with a vocal group pleading against moving forward with a county proposal to offer planning and zoning services to the city. The city eliminated its planning and zoning department, terminating two long-standing employees and contracted with the county.

A lot of people were afraid of the change, Wessels said, but he said there was no opposition expressed at Monday’s council meeting. Wessels pointed to the county’s change in its own previously much-maligned planning and zoning department to what is has now and said the county’s effort helped the city get there a lot faster and more smoothly.

“One thing I do know,” said Board Chairwoman Rosemary Franzen, “we have great staff.”

Pence said he went to Crosslake with the idea learning from the city adding the county’s ordinance will be better for it in the long run.

Wessels said the previous planning department budget was $300,000 at a time when permits for new construction could be counted on one hand. With Pence’s work, the budget is $190,000, Wessels said. Also, he said, the city found it wasn’t collecting $11,000 in fees and not recording all information as it should have been.

Mark Liedl, land services director, said about seven years ago, a series of meetings with community leaders in Brainerd discussed environmental protection, planning and zoning. Liedl said uniformity in regulations was a primary principle in how water is protected and how customers are treated. Changes to the county ordinance made it more understandable and user friendly, Liedl said, and now a major municipality has largely adopted the county ordinance.

“The environment doesn’t know municipal boundaries,” Liedl said. Uniformity to regulations is more effective in protecting resources, Liedl said, adding it recognizes property rights and the interests of landowners in doing the right thing.

With real estate agents and contractors familiar with regulations, Liedl said there is better compliance and “more information to people so there is better understanding — so people can do the right thing.”

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz.

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