CROSSLAKE -- Crosslake council member Dean Swanson Monday night apologized to city residents for his vote at a June 2 city council meeting regarding the shoreland act.
"I have concluded my second to the motion was in error and my vote was in error," Swanson said reading from a statement. "This is not an excuse. It is only reporting to the city council and the citizens of Crosslake of my error. I apologize for my action. The problem is that frustration occasionally gets in the way of good judgment."
Swanson said the error came because there was no research and documentation for the council to consider. At issue is a June 2 city council vote that could change how the city responds to planning and zoning matters in the shoreland areas. The city's code stated when there was a discrepancy between the state's shoreland act and the city's ordinances, the shoreland act would be followed. In June, the council voted 4-1, with Mayor Jay Andolshek opposed, to have the city's code be the governing document not the shoreland act.
In a letter to the city, Kirk Adams, city attorney, noted the city council's vote put a new ordinance directly in opposition with an existing one.
In his letter, Adams said if the city's intent is to have the city control all shoreland zoning issues then the earlier ordinance giving dominance to the shoreland act should be deleted. Adams advised this would require a public hearing and notification to the DNR, which would then determine if the city's new ordinance was in substantial compliance with the shoreland act.
Ron Morreim, DNR area hydrologist based in Brainerd, wrote the council a letter raising a concern regarding the city's intentions to comply with the state's shoreland standards, which govern 1,000 feet from lakes and 300 feet from rivers.
"The purpose of this letter is to remind the city of its obligations to properly administer the state shoreland management standards," Morreim said. He added if unique circumstances arise which make conformance to the standards unreasonable, the state's rules provide for "flexibility procedures" where the DNR can consider allowing alternative standards.
Notices for all public hearings to consider variances, amendments or conditional uses in shoreland areas, must be sent to the DNR and postmarked at least 10 days before the hearing.
As a governing rule of thumb, cities, counties and townships can be more, but not less restrictive than state law. The main issue in Crosslake is the minimum lot size allowed. The city has approved smaller lot sizes than the state allows. The issue first arose as council members sought to clarify whether the planning and zoning department was using the city's ordinances or the state's shoreland act.
The council did not take additional action on the subject or the recommendation by the city attorney. Following the meeting, Swanson said: "We're not done with that yet."
RENEE RICHARDSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5852.
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