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Baxter City Council hears from neighbors, denies rezoning/PUD

BAXTER - A request to rezone and allow planned unit development for a PORT Group Home on Birch Drive in Baxter was denied. Tuesday, the Baxter City Council unanimously voted against the request. Council member Mark Cross was absent. The city's pl...

BAXTER - A request to rezone and allow planned unit development for a PORT Group Home on Birch Drive in Baxter was denied.

Tuesday, the Baxter City Council unanimously voted against the request. Council member Mark Cross was absent.

The city's planning commission recommended approving the request. On July 21, the city council heard from neighbors who opposed the PORT Group Home as being incompatible with the residential area. The council directed staff to develop findings of fact for a denial. In its resolution, the council stated "the requested PUD is for a group home use serving 14 people, which does not fit the character of the surrounding residential neighborhood" and isn't consistent with the city's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. At 14 people, the group home was larger than those typically within a residential area, the city reported. Other concerns included noise, parking and safety. Mayor Darrel Olson said after the July 21 meeting, the real estate agent working with the property was verbally accosted as he left city hall by one of the neighbors at the meeting.

"We really haven't had anything like that happen here in my tenure," Olson said. He noted everyone has their opinions but there is also a proper protocol to present them.

In other business, the city:

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Accepted a $500 donation from Baxter Lions Club for Minnesota Night to Unite event. Baxter is celebrating its 10th annual Night to Unite community event. The event is 5-8 p.m. Aug. 11 at Oscar Kristofferson Park, behind Baxter Elementary School.

Accepted a $1,500 Memorial Park Bench donation from Barb Herbst. The bench, to be placed at Whipple Beach, will be dedicated to her son Marc Welzant.

Welzant has been missing since Oct. 26, 2014. Baxter noted Herbst picked the location because her son enjoyed time at the Whipple fishing pier. Baxter staff members met with Herbst by Whipple in July to review placement possibilities for the bench. The donation covers the cost of materials and engraving and most of the installation. The city noted there may be minor additional labor costs to prepare the site.

Approved a temporary liquor license for the Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project's Sept. 3 fundraising event.

Approved a special event permit to raise awareness and funds in the fight against domestic violence in the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event hosted by Mills Ford in Baxter. The event is planned 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Aug. 15. Previous events have drawn several hundred people. The city plans to close a section of Edgewood Drive from Woida Road to Target's northern entrance.

Ordered a report be prepared for the 2015 Inglewood Drive improvement project.

Set a public hearing to consider the improvement plans for Inglewood Drive at 5:45 p.m. Aug. 18. The estimated cost for the project is $532,500.

Adopted an assessment resolution for mill and overlay street projects with a 12-year payment set for improvements along Excelsior Road and seven years for improvements along Conservation Drive at an interest rate of 5 percent.

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Amended the city's architectural park tier map after hearing feedback in July to allow one architectural standard as a proposed development was combining properties, one in the city's tier one and one in tier two. One standard would provide consistency on the property the city reported.

Approved a state bid of $54,074 for improvements at Jewelwood Park. Site work is estimated to be about $100,000 with $5,400 annually to maintain the residential park. Cost for a porta-potty is about $3,500 with an additional $500 for a concrete base and a monthly $50 service charge. The planned Jewelwood Park is expected to be similar to Southdale Park. The playground set allows space for a climbing wall.

Approved spending $2,539 using drug forfeiture funds for software for the police department. The police department noted use of a software investigative tool will assist in human trafficking investigations. The software is expected to assist in investigations and serve as a management tool, saving investigators perhaps as much as two hours per case. The system, Callyo, has the potential to be used in other case work as well.

RENEE RICHARDSON, associate editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Dispatchbizbuzz .

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