Isanti Council denies vacating a portion of Spirit Brook Drive SW

Isanti City Council members denied vacating a portion of Spirit Brook Drive SW during the meeting Oct. 16.

The council held a public hearing Sept. 4 to vacate portions of a number of right-of-way areas within the community. The Spirit River Drive SW vacation had to be reviewed by the Commissioner of Natural Resources because the right-of-way borders the Rum River, which is public water.

The Department of Natural Resources noted in a letter to city staff that the DNR is opposed to the vacation of Spirit Brook Drive SW abutting the public waters of the Rum River for a number of reasons.

The right-of-way runs through Cambridge-Isanti School District property and is north of a DNR boat launch on the river.

“In the assessment of DNR staff, the vacation is not in the public interest, and would provide no public benefits to match the value of the current and potential public resource,” the DNR letter states. “The unvacated right of way clearly has both present and potential use for access to public waters. From aerial photos it appears that the right of way is currently used to access the river. The DNR does not advocate any kind of development or improvement of the right of way, but as it stands in an undeveloped state, it represents a great opportunity for walk in canoe, kayak and shore fishing access.”

The city council may vacate a street only upon finding that the vacation would be in the interest of the public.

The DNR letter stated they can’t predict the future needs for public access on this stretch of the Rum River, “but once this valuable land leaves public ownership, it is likely gone for good.”

While the DNR comments didn’t legally prevent the council from proceeding with the street vacation, the council did follow the city staff recommendation for denying the vacation.

In other action, the council:

• Accepted a quote from Bjorklund Companies for snow removal in the liquor store parking lot. The city will pay $300 for a seasonal retainer with a rate of $90 each snow removal response. If the service is requested, the rate will be reduced $20 per time.

• Accepted a proposal from Associated Financial Group to provide professional commercial liability services for the city and its staff, effective upon approval of a contract for services. The fee is $7,500 for the first year and $7,000 for years two through five.

• Approved use of the water tower for training by the Isanti Fire District.