BAXTER -- A homeowner's concerns about mold and the city's role in monitoring residential construction dominated the Baxter City Council meeting Tuesday night.
Jean Gessel, a Mountain Ash Drive resident, spoke during the public comment session. She said the home her family purchased in 1994 had water and mold problems. Gessel said the mold was discovered after a doctor suggested the chronic health issues with her children may be related to the home.
Gessel said the contractor, Dave Schultz, did not construct the home to meet code requirements. Gessel previously met with Pam Swanson, Baxter city building official, to discuss the issue and the contractor returned to do some work on the home.
Reached by phone today Schultz said he did return to do work on the Gessel home and as far as he knew everything was taken care of with the insurance company and resolved. Schultz said homes he constructed were inspected by the city. Schultz now works as a developer and is no longer a contractor.
At the Tuesday meeting, Brad Person, Baxter city attorney, said he did not think there was much the city could do other than provide better enforcement in the future. Person said he did not know if Gessel's house was ever inspected by the city.
Council member Mary Marana said the city has gone back to homes built years ago and addressed issues because the houses were not inspected. Marana asked why the city could not do the same thing on this occasion.
City Administrator Larry Kruse said he was aware of the Gessel home problems and improper installation, but did not realize issues were continuing. Gessel first contacted the city in August.
"What good is an ordinance, that's not enforced," Gessel said.
Council member Darrel Olson said he has been following building issues and other homeowners are also facing building code flaws and do not have certificates of occupancy, which are needed in order to sell homes in the future.
"This could really be a prairie fire," Olson said.
In other business, the council again discussed the retreat set for March 2. Kruse requested input from council members on the retreat's format and said Camp Vanasek was available.
After a brief discussion, the council agreed to meet at the camp and generally follow the retreat format of last year.
Muehlhausen and council members Marana and Barb Wells also reacted strongly to a letter from Crow Wing County Land Commissioner Tom Cowell regarding an interest in cutting mature jack pine along Cedar Scenic Road. Kruse said Cowell's opinion was that the area needed to be harvested.
Muehlhausen said part of the city's long range plan is to keep that area forested and cutting trees deviates completely from the city's comprehensive plan.
Wells said the issue needs more discussion and the city council and residents liked the idea of keeping trees in the location. Previous discussion included the possibility of a city park in the area.
"I don't think any cutting should be done right now," Marana said.
The council met in closed session for nearly an hour to discuss contract issues with Kruse and members of the Personnel and Police Commission. When the council reconvened in open session, members voted to see if comparable worth salary survey applies to the administrator's salary.
In miscellaneous business, the council:
Approved the preliminary plat of Menards addition contingent upon the testing and acceptance of the sewer line after a revised copy of the Menards plat went before the Utilities Commission.
Accepted a John Jacklitch petition for improvements for the Jacklitch Estates plat.
Postponed setting a hearing date for the city's vacation of a portion of Forthun Road until John Sullivan, who requested the action, could attend.
Approved an agreement between the city and Mickey Kaminski for an easement to fix a water backup problem on Industrial Park Road South with a permanent storm pond overflow. Funds for the project are from the streets budget out of the capitol projects fund. The project is expected to use about 25 percent of the $80,000 budget.
Agreed to proceed with sealed quotes for the storm water project.
Amended the election ordinance changing the Precinct 2 polling place. The council decided the polling place for Precinct 1 shall by Baxter City Hall and the polling place for Precinct 2 shall be Lord of Life Lutheran Church.
Approved an on sale/Sunday liquor license for Applebee's.
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