Should the city of Brainerd consider annexation in order to extend utilities around Gilbert Lake?
That question came up regarding a proposed Crow Wing County road improvement project.
Tuesday, the council voted 4-1 against asking the county to delay a proposed McKay road resurfacing to allow time for the city to consider extending utilities. Council member Lucy Nesheim proposed asking for the delay and was the sole vote in favor.
The proposed Crow Wing County overlay project is estimated to cost $382,000 with about $12,000 of the cost to the city of Brainerd. The amount proposed for assessment to the seven parcels in the city is $6,000 or about $6 per foot.
City planner Mark Ostgarden said the question of asking for the delay brings up the annexation word and how the city will address the area to the north in the near future in terms of planning and the city’s growth. Ostgarden suggested it is a topic the council should discuss.
Nesheim said the Gilbert Lake area and McKay Road area is environmentally sensitive. She suggested asking the county to delay its project until later in the year or until 2013 so the city could discuss the extension of utilities.
“It would be very important for us to look at the big picture and the health of the environment in this community,” Nesheim said.
Council member Kelly Bevans argued against that motion. Bevans said both Nesheim and Ostgarden made good points for the big picture view but noted the short time frame with the county poised for action in April.
Unlike the Riverside Road and Beaver Dam projects putting in utilities with road projects, Bevans said the savings on McKay Road is $12,000 not hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. Years ago the feasibility of bringing sewer to the Gilbert Lake area was more than $3 million, Bevans said.
He added property owners would be looking at a $19,000 per parcel assessment with more than 100 properties needing to be part of an agreement for annexation. In addition, the city of Brainerd would have a part of the assessment.
“I understand the big picture,” Bevans said, adding he’d like to have sewer extended around Gilbert Lake but this seemed to be unfortunate timing. And Bevans questioned if the small project here was enough of a spark to initiate such an undertaking.
The city already has significant deficits in deferred assessments from the previous road projects in the Gilbert Lake area, Bevans said.
Council President Mary Koep agreed with Bevans, noting the time constraints.
Koep said unless Gilbert Lake residents are before the council asking for the project, she couldn’t see the city going for the assessment.
Nesheim said she wasn’t asking to put in sewer next year, just seeking a delay now so an interest in utility extension could be gauged. By asking the county for a delay, Nesheim said the city would have time to explore options. It wasn’t just the $12,000, Nesheim said, it was about a vision for the future.
Council member Bonnie Cumberland said she’d think about it if the request came from the residents but wasn’t in favor or postponing the county’s project without a plan.
“I’d love to have a long range plan for utilities to be extended to the north, but I’m not sure this is the right time,” Cumberland said.
The council agreed to call for a public hearing and set the assessment rate for the road project involving the seven parcels on March 5.
Bevans said: “Let the public speak.”
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Dispatchbizbuzz.