Oftentimes the public comment period goes quiet at the beginning of each Isanti County Board meeting. Last week, the silence was broken.
Rick Cuneo, who lives off Long Lake in Stanford Township, urged commissioners to be aware of and perhaps look into the issue of blighted properties around the county. From lake shore properties to parcels off popular roadways, including Hwy. 47, residents are storing junked cars and other eyesores that could lead to bigger problems, he said.
For one, blighted properties discourage people and businesses from moving to the area. This lack of curb appeal, among other things, is “not putting our best foot forward,” Cuneo stressed.
On a more serious note, these properties could pose a risk for rescue workers attempting to respond to an emergency. He has observed junked vehicles near waterways, too, which he thought could lead to various pollution issues.
Cuneo noted he has talked with the county zoning office a few times, and the department has looked in the issue. He also acknowledged the heavy expense that can come with cleaning up these properties.
The board approved the county parks department’s request to apply for a grant, in the amount of $37,182, as an agency in the Anoka Sandplain Partnership from the Legacy Amendment’s Outdoor Heritage Council. Of the amount, $4,000 will serve as a local match from the parks invasive species budget.
The grant proposal aims to enhance 70 acres of oak woodland at Springvale, Anderson and Vegsund county parks through invasive species removal and herbicide treatment followed by prescribed burning. The proposal also intends to oversee the enhancement of 67 acres of floodplain forest at Cambridge City Park through similar measures.
In another matter, commissioners approved the hire of University of Minnesota master of landscape architecture student Jody Rader as an intern to complete a master plan for Anderson Park.
In other action, the board:
• Accepted S W Wold Construction’s application to repurchase a property, within the Yerigan Farms development, that was forfeited to the state on October 30, 2012, due to a hardship.
• Approved a recycling facility license to Lind Recycling Center, 130 N. Cleveland St., Cambridge.
• Discussed amending Isanti County Zoning Ordinance, Section 6 Agriculture/Residential District to allow for rural retail and tourism uses as a conditional use permit or an interim use permit. Also discussed was adding wineries, craft breweries, wedding chapels and other types of rural retail/tourism, along with Shoreland District, to the language. Chisago County has said it’s been pleased with its rural retail and tourism ordinance. Due to the proposed ordinance change, commissioners set a public hearing on the matter for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday July 17.
• Approved a request by Ken Smersh, of Isanti, to present a preliminary plat of Estates on Lily, an agriculture/residential zoned property in Bradford Township. The property includes a 22.85-acre parcel that is proposed to be subdivided into two parcels: 16.77 acre and 3 acres in size.
• Approved a request by Lloyd Eastlund, of Isanti, to present a preliminary plat of Eastlund Addition in Isanti Township. The property, at 23.83 acres, is proposed to be subdivided into a 3 acre and 20.83 acre parcel.
• Approved a request by Pie Properties to expand its conditional use permit for Ravens Family Restaurant in Bradford Township. At an earlier planning commission meeting, restaurant manager James Dougherty said the plan is to add volleyball two nights a week (Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30 to no later than 11) at the restaurant. The volleyball courts would be fenced in, complete with safety nets to keep 305th Avenue free from flying volleyballs. One light would be positioned in the center of the courts, and the light would be facing down to avoid conflict with neighboring residents. Dougherty said the restaurant also would like to host one outdoor event/entertainment, such as a band, once a month through the summer months.
• Received a presentation on gaps in mental health services from social service supervisor Karyn Hansen, who also serves in chemical dependency and mental health areas. Locally, she presented, there is demand for a day treatment program for children, more autism services, affordable housing with supportive services, evening and weekend transportation, child psychiatry and advocates to assist people with oftentimes intimidating paperwork.
• Promoted Lisa Lovering to sergeant (approved June 5) and Kevin Carlson to investigator as recommended by Isanti County Sheriff Bill Guenther. And with John Gillquist hired on as a new deputy sheriff, the sheriff’s office will be back to full strength after six months of the hiring process, Guenther informed commissioners.