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Nisswa: Council applicants to be interviewed; PZ administrator resigns

Council will hold special meeting in early February to interview applicants and appoint one.

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Nisswa City Council members Mark Utzinger (left), Mayor John Ryan, Ross Krautkremer and Don Jacobson met for their first regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19. The council now meets the third Tuesday of the month instead of the third Wednesday. Screenshot / Nancy Vogt
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Not only will Nisswa have a new council member soon, the city will also look for a new planning and zoning administrator.

The city has received three applications so far for a vacant city council position with the deadline to apply by 4 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.

The council agreed at its meeting Tuesday, Jan. 19, to hold a special meeting in early February to interview all applicants and then appoint one to the council. The new person will serve the remaining two years of Mike Hoff’s seat. He resigned from the council after moving outside of the city limits.

The council also accepted the resignation of Planning and Zoning Administrator Brittney Cotner, who has served in that role since May 2019. In a resignation letter, Cotner told the council she was offered a job with Sourcewell and accepted the offer. Her last day with Nisswa will be Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The city will advertise and interview for the position.

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Council member Don Jacobson said Cotner was an asset to the planning and zoning commission and the city and he is sorry to see her go.

Roundabout tree

City Administrator Jenny Max told the council the city has received great support from the community wanting to help the city and potentially plant a tree to replace one of the three spruce trees at the County Road 18 roundabout that was cut down and stolen Dec. 29.

She said the city will work on options and do something this spring, along with landscaping updates in the pocket park area downtown, which leads to the tunnel under Highway 371.

Golf cart ordinance

The council received an update on a golf cart ordinance and trail use policy being developed in a memo from Max and Parks and Recreation Director Amber Moon Peterson.

No action was taken.

The memo said staff reviewed the draft golf cart ordinance from July and made a few updates. The draft ordinance was forwarded to the parks and recreation commission and the Gull Lake Trail Steering Committee for feedback.

Max and Moon recommend that the golf cart ordinance approval process move forward ahead of the trail use policy for two reasons:

  • The Gull Lake Trail will not be completed until summer/fall of 2022.

  • The city is working on a golf cart pilot project that is proposed to launch this summer to begin to understand the patterns and use of golf carts in the city limits after ordinance approval.

Information gathered this summer during the pilot project would be used to help develop a final trail use policy, which would be adopted before completion of the Gull Lake Trail.
A public hearing on the proposed golf cart ordinance would be held this spring.

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Some people have told the council they don’t think golf carts should be allowed on the Gull Lake Trail alongside walkers, inline skaters and bicyclists because of the danger.

Public safety

Fire department elections resulted in returning office holders: Joe Hall, assistant chief, and Nate Peters, Justin Stahnke and Mat Jorgans, captains.

Firefighters had 34 calls in December, including 28 emergency medical services calls and two each carbon monoxide calls, fire alarms and building fires.

The council agreed to move police officer Matthew Thompson from probationary to permanent status after he completed a year of employment with the city.

In December, police had 193 calls for service, issued 130 traffic warnings, 13 traffic citations and four criminal citations. Police had 22 agency assists.

Year-end statistics for 2020 included: 2,508 calls for service, 1,354 warnings, 242 traffic citations, 34 criminal citations, 360 agency assists, 113 arrests, 164 EMS calls, 102 alarms and officers logged 93,932 patrol miles.

In other business Jan. 19, the council:

  • Approved the final plat for North Pines, consisting of 27 single family dwellings with the option for rentals within a mixed use development, with conditions at the request of ETOC (Grand View Lodge). The council also approved a development agreement between the city and ETOC.

  • Approved an agreement for professional services between the city and the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp for $2,850 for 2021.

  • Approved a joint services agreement between the city and Lake Shore regarding engineering costs for the Gull Lake Trail project.

  • Appointed Kristen Hansen and Robert Fier to the planning and zoning commission through 2024.

  • Reappointed Paula West to a second four-year term and Mata Agre to a first four-year term on the parks and recreation commission.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.

Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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