Crow Wing County Board approves changes to lake improvement district policies

The Crow Wing County Board has been discussing revisions to its Lake Improvement Districts policy over several months.

Photo illustration of a dock in a lake Illustration

BRAINERD — In an area often largely defined by water and water quality, Lake Improvement Districts are part of the equation with residents leading the effort.

Whether people live on a lake or use the public water access, Lake Improvement Districts can have an impact.

The Crow Wing County Board has been discussing revisions to its Lake Improvement Districts policy over several months. The policy, which covers establishing, running and dissolving a district, was first established in the fall of 2020. More recently, county staff has been looking at revisions and seeking feedback on a draft policy since early winter of 2022. More recently, questions arose regarding the policy looking at existing districts and new ones.

“Sometimes we learn as well as things arise,” said Gary Griffin, land services director. “And so we have a couple of changes that we're proposing today that we didn't have a few weeks ago based on further investigation.”

After consulting with the county attorney’s office and an insurance office, staff recommendation was to split the district policy into two with a lake improvement policy and one regarding establishing a district. In the district policy one change was made regarding voting procedures, although if districts established their own voting procedures they don't have to convert to the county’s plan. The county’s policy for voting calls for a secret ballot mailed to each property owner at least two weeks before the annual meeting. The ballots may then be sent or delivered prior to or on the date of the annual meeting.


In the establishment policy, three temporary directors would be designated until the district’s first official meeting. The county also has direct links from its website to Minnesota regulations on lake improvement districts.

The county noted most of the comments it received on the policy had to do with trouble meeting a proposed Oct. 1 date for the required annual report. The annual deadline for the district’s annual report — with financials, work plan for the coming year and proposed budget — to the county was set as Nov. 1.

The county board voted in favor of the revisions Tuesday, April 11.

About Lake Improvement Districts  

  • The districts start with a petition from a majority of property owners and are established by a county board, city council or DNR commissioner. 
  • The DNR notes those districts provide for more local involvement in lake management activities such as monitoring water quality, doing lake research projects, maintaining public facilities, regulating surface water use and working on lake management issues. 
  • The districts are managed by a board of directors and have annual meetings in July or August. Funding for the districts comes through the county board and may be financed by an assessment to benefitting property owners, service charges, general obligation bonds, a property tax focused on property within the district, or a combination of those options, which is laid out when the district is established. When lakeside property owners first sought out establishing the districts in the county they noted it might be one of the few times residents were coming forward asking to be taxed. 

In other business, the County Board:

Headline News from the Brainerd Dispatch

Heard an update the county jail is a little over a week into boarding inmates from Stearns County, opening up a new pod with about 30 new inmates. The sheriff’s office is also monitoring the deteriorating ice conditions on area waterways and lakes. The sudden weather change can create a tough time when ice may look thick and safe but is really questionable.

Heard an update from the county attorney’s office that has three first-degree murder trials pending along with other cases that back up prior to COVID-19 or into the pandemic. Don Ryan, county attorney, said they are catching up and the number of cases is going down from the record highs.

Noted the county will be hiring a new finance director. Commissioner Paul Koering said he was comfortable giving Houle the same direction and same process to interview for the position as the board did for the human resources director. Koering noted other board members didn’t need to weigh in. The topic was expected to be discussed at the upcoming budget committee meeting. None of the other commissioners spoke or indicated a preference.


Listed new hires and departures. Hires included: Melanie Clemmer, social worker; McKayla Harrington, legal assistant; Justin Athman, patrol deputy; Cole Jackels, correctional officer; Anna Braun, 911 communication officer; Christina Johnson, correctional officer.

Departures included: Scott Goddard, captain, former sheriff; Brittany Stolaas, financial worker; Kathy Condon, case aide; Shari Cline-Turcotte, probation agent; and Nicholas Mielke, finance director.

Approved the state of Minnesota annual county boat and water safety grant agreement to provide county sheriff services for boat and water safety activities through June 30, 2024, for $72,856.

Approved the new on sale and Sunday liquor license application of North Central Speedway.

Entered a contract with Marvin Tretter Inc. for $143,528 for the Canyon Creek box culvert work expected to begin about July 10 and be completed by Oct. 13.

Withdrew tracts of land from the tax-forfeited land sale list to allow a direct sale to the Housing and Redevelopment Authority for the cost of $1 per parcel to construct affordable housing. The HRA plans to enter negotiations with the Lakes Area Habitat for Humanity to build single family homes. The parcels are off Lynwood Drive and Ironwood Drive in Baxter.

Declared a public health nuisance abatement for a Brainerd property on Meadowview Road. The property reportedly had a large amount of refuse and a failed septic system with proximity to a well that serves multiple properties. The resident previously agreed to a septic system pumping schedule, the county reported, but stopped complying with the plan and has a locked gate that keeps the company from serving the septic system. While the property has changed ownership, the county reported the issues continued.

A cleanup filled 26 roll-off dumpsters and 11 semitrailer loads. The county reported the new owner thought they would have an additional 10 months to do the clean up but worked with the county to retain some things, such as quite a few vehicles and a largely filled garage.


Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or Follow on Twitter @DispatchBizBuzz.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
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