A move for Crow Wing County to take over planning and zoning services for Crosslake has undoubtedly been a success already, said Commissioner Paul Thiede Monday.
The subject of the Crosslake planning and zoning services came up during a discussion at the Committee of the Whole.
Chris Pence said, Land Services supervisor, said he was contacted by a representative of the city of Emily to see if the county was interested in helping with planning and zoning and was asked to put together a subcommittee to meet as was done in Crosslake.
Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said she hoped it wasn’t just like Crosslake.
Commissioner Paul Koering said he’s in favor of all local government thinking outside the box when it comes to combining services. Koering was in favor of a fire district.
Koering said he’d like to see the county go to Baxter and offer services. Administrator Tim Houle said at this point the county has waited for other units of government to come to them. Houle said when the county has been able to break even on cost, have some influence on environmental boundaries and the city in question is able to reduce cost it’s a win all around. If that can’t happen, Houle said it probably won’t work.
Pence said in Crosslake they’ve worked for success in consistency with rules and customer service that is consistent, quick and helps people accomplish what they want to do on their property with friendly staff.
In other business:
Commissioners heard since 2012, six trail proposals were submitted to the county. Those trail proposals included three non-motorized summer trails, one non-motorized winter trail and two summer motorized trails. Five were approved and are being developed. One was withdrawn. A link between county lands and Blind Lake in Aitkin County is being evaluated to connect to the regional all-terrain vehicle trail system. Snowshoe trail options are also being reviewed.
Learned there are 200 tax-forfeited parcels with an appraised valued at more than $3.2 million on the county’s unsold list. The county has identified a goal of increasing the parcel sales by 10 percent in 2014. One option county commissioners discussed was to work more closely with real estate agents to help locate potential buyers and increase awareness of land for sale. Administrator Tim Houle said part of the issue is the land is often swamp land. Auditor-Treasurer Laureen Borden said there are also a number of lots with special assessments on the land working to increase the price and no one is bidding.
Koering asked if any consideration was given to providing real estate agents a finder’s fee. Houle said the county wants to make the parcels more accessible via the Internet and increase relationships with marketing professionals.
Board members also considered merging the Lands and Forestry Advisory Committee with the Parks and Trails Advisory Committee into a single entity.
Jake Frie, natural resource manager, said merging the two would save on per diem costs and there is interest in trails from both committees. Per diem costs in 2013 were $700 for the parks and trails committee and $600 for lands and forestry. Also, the county noted there wasn’t a quorum for the April parks and trails meeting and two district appointments haven’t been filled for more than a year. Each committee now meets four times a year. Staff was asked to provide more research on the county’s legal requirements for the lands and forestry committee.
In addition, commissioners spoke with Tim Terrill, new executive director for the Mississippi Headwaters Board.