Crosslake lists positive results on planning and zoning changes
A sparse gathering at the Crow Wing County Board’s Tuesday meeting spoke volumes to Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom.
“It’s outstanding this room is mostly empty this morning compared to that packed, angry, concerned angry people,” Nystrom said, adding whatever happened it’s been resolved to a great outcome.
Last September, a standing room only crowd filled the county board room on the third floor of the historic courthouse.
The board was deciding whether to approve a plan to offer planning and zoning services to the city of Crosslake. Numerous residents spoke, some questioning replacing experienced staff members. They described the situation on Crosslake as an uproar.
At the time Mark Wessels, Crosslake City Council member, said people were opposed to change and didn’t understand what the city was doing. Wessels said the change also came with a cost savings to its taxpayers, although how much was disputed.
Tuesday, Crosslake Mayor Darrell Schneider gave commissioners an update on how the process is working.
“They are going fantastically well really,” Schneider said. He said data reports supported his personal opinion, listed in a one-page status update. Schneider said feedback from people has been positive.
“The public receptivity is terrific. Most everyone is very enthusiastic and positive,” Schneider said.
Among his findings, Schneider said meeting times have decreased from four to six hours to one to two hours, documents are filed promptly, someone is always available, and a new ordinance is “better to interpret, administer and enforce.”
Commissioner Paul Koering said he was a little reluctant about extending planning and zoning services to the city, which then eliminated its existing planning department although he favors consolidating services. Koering said he was pleasantly surprised to see things turn out so well, noting the city went from 300 pages of regulations to 160.
“It’s a real team effort. Everyone is working together,” Schneider said. “People are happy to come into city hall to talk about their project because there is a way usually to do anything people want to do.”
Schneider said the ordinance is a good one from an environmental standpoint.
Commissioner Paul Thiede, whose district includes Crosslake, said the number of calls he receives have been positive rather than the negative ones he heard previously. Thiede said it was a resolution to what was a rather difficult situation and worthy of a downtown Crosslake parade.
Nystrom said: “You make us look good and we like that.”