Getting rid of land along Dellwood Drive? Brainerd city officials to talk de-annexation
The Brainerd Planning Commission is expected to discuss the issue during its meeting Wednesday, March 15.
BRAINERD — What would it take for a city to get rid of land it simply doesn’t want anymore?
Brainerd city officials are exploring that question after a permit for a storage unit facility on Dellwood Drive prompted discussion about de-annexation.
City Council and Planning Commission members approved a conditional use permit last month for Central Lakes Area Storage to build a mini self-storage facility at 15770 Dellwood Drive. The two-building facility is on the northwestern edge of the city. City water and sewer services do not reach this property, and the city of Baxter maintains Dellwood Drive, including the portion that’s technically in Brainerd. Because of these factors, planning commissioner Chuck Marohn brought up the idea of de-annexation of the storage facility property and surrounding land, saying he doesn’t foresee the city ever providing facilities there.
This land really shouldn’t be in Brainerd. It never should have been in Brainerd.
Marohn recalls when Brainerd obtained the land back in the 1990s, as he was working at Widseth Smith Nolting (now Widseth) amid conversation about the Highway 371 bypass through Baxter, which opened in 2000.
“(Brainerd) seemed to be having some kind of crisis that, not only are we losing all the highway traffic and everything that goes along with that, but everything’s gonna go along Highway 371, and we don’t have any Highway 371 frontage, so we are gonna get shut out of all this development,” Marohn said during a phone interview earlier this month.
That was when Brainerd started to annex property in the area of Wise Road to get frontage along the highway, Marohn said.
“Brainerd started this race with Baxter to annex up to the highway,” he added. “... (Brainerd) started grabbing 40-acre chunks like once a month — or once every six months — as fast as they could to try to get to the highway and try to get north of Baxter and stop Baxter’s march north along the highway.”
Baxter then began doing the same thing.
While Marohn said Baxter ultimately won that race, Brainerd was left with parcels of property sprinkled along the highway, like that on Dellwood Drive.
“I’m not suggesting that the people there have no value or the property is worthless, but to the city of Brainerd it has no value,” Marohn said. “... This land really shouldn’t be in Brainerd. It never should have been in Brainerd. We’re not going to provide any utilities or services to it. Why would we have it in the city? Why would we tax people and pretend that someday we’ll provide service when we’re never going to?”
When the issue was brought up at the last Planning Commission meeting, Community Development Director James Kramvik said he would look into the process for de-annexation — or detachment, as it’s also called.
Further discussion is expected to happen at the Planning Commission’s meeting Wednesday, March 15. In a memo in the meeting’s agenda packet, Kramvik wrote he consulted with the city attorney and learned the process for detachment is similar to annexation in that City Council approval is necessary. Typically, the process is started by a property owner as a part of an application, and the property would have to be assigned to a neighboring municipality or township.
Public Works officials confirmed sewer and water are not present along Dellwood Drive, and city staff does not plow snow on the Brainerd portion of the road.
In 2017, Brainerd Public Utilities entered into a service territory agreement with Crow Wing Power to serve new and existing customers in the Dellwood Drive area. BPU acquired this service territory from Crow Wing Power only when the land was annexed into the city of Brainerd. Therefore, the actual annexation occurred sometime earlier in 2017. BPU paid $75,916 for electric system infrastructure from Crow Wing Power and invested an additional $122,573 to serve existing and new customers. Total BPU investment in the project is at least $198,489. BPU is currently serving 37 electric accounts in the area, and total kilowatt hour sales for 2022 were 357,637.
In his memo, Kramvik said staff does not recommend detachment of Dellwood Drive properties, as BPU supplies power for these properties and has invested in infrastructure. These properties do not presently add any considerable costs to the city to maintain infrastructure, he wrote.
The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at email@example.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .