Found: One mystery picnic table
The Webster Village Board will be meeting with officials from the neighboring Town of Meenon to work out the details on a proposed development on the Ken Erickson property, on what was formerly known as the Chelmo Property on the village’s north side, where part of the property in is the neighboring town, which has dramatically different development rules, as they fall under county zoning, versus the village zoning on issues like lot size and utilities.
At the July 13 regular village board meeting, village surveyor Mark Krause outlined several of the proposed changes while the board also discussed whether they would be best served by reaching a joint consensus on rules for both ’sides’ of the property, or whether the village should annex the property into the village for uniform ruling.
Krause said they are planning on a meeting August 3 between both municipalities to discuss the annexation and zoning, so the final decision can be considered by Burnett County, with time for committee and full County Board review in September.
One issue proposed by Meenon officials has been to ‘de-annex’ land in the village to the Town of Meenon, so the entire development would be outside village rules and zoning, but Webster Village President Jeff Roberts thought that scenario was unlikely, at best, as the village already has a housing and development shortage.
“I really don’t think we would do that (de-annex),” Roberts replied to a comment on the Meenon proposal. “It may be in our best interest to annex it.”
At the most recent Webster Planning Commission meeting held on July 6, several details of the proposal were noted by new owner, Ken Erickson who was in attendance and outlined his proposal for the land he purchased recently, which is north of the Yellow River and runs to County Road A.
As Erickson and other have noted, a portion of the property is in the village and a portion is in the Town of Meenon, creating multiply zoning districts and jurisdictional questions.
According to Krause, the village property is zoned R1 and allows for 100-foot lots and the Meenon property is zoned A2 and allows 10 acre lots. Krause’s suggestion is to allow a 200-foot lot size for the whole property, while also pointing out the unique terrain means typical lot size rules may not be best. According to the presentation, the Town on Meenon wants to keep the agricultural nature, with farm fields and the like, and Krause suggested a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to specify what the lot sizes and shapes would be for approval before it is reviewed for zoning approval by the village and county.
Some of the current lots are in the village, some in the town and some are in both municipalities. Krause said there is about 5,000 feet of river frontage in the parcels.
For several reasons, village lot size standards are much different than the 10-acre minimum for the town, which has a lot to do with available land to allow for private septic systems, while village standards push connection to village water and sewer utilities, although the property in question is quite a ways from the nearest sewer and water line, compounding the issues.
Krause suggested they reach some sort of development compromise, possibly with slightly larger lots than the village minimum, but not the ten-acres Meenon’s rules would push.
In general, Krause said the portion of the property in the village limits amounts to about six or eight lots, with the rest in Meenon.
The property in question was the site of a past campground proposal that faced opposition and was ultimately rejected for zoning issues, with the property being sold to Erickson, he is hoping to create a new area primarily for residential housing, including along the riverway. The question is how to decide on the development standards and lot sizes, as well as whether to make it part of village utilities or private wells and septic systems.
“It looks easier to annex it into the village, but the easiest answer is for us to work together,” Roberts said.
The Wester board is hoping to find a compromise that will work for both sides and for the owner, Ken Erickson. Several village trustees noted that the village is encouraged to promote new development, as it is one of the ways the state adjusts their tax levy.
“Our (village) budget is based on new construction, to pay (employees) and for services,” trustee Tim Maloney said, in support of annexing the property into the village.
“We’re trying to keep a good working relationship with the Meenon” Roberts assured. “We’ll be working on a plan for the (Aug. 3) meeting.”
The board took no action on the issue and will outline their concerns and suggestions in time for the Aug. 3 meeting with Meenon, which will include the Webster Planning Commission.
In other board business
• The board had an update and a preview of additions to the upcoming Gandy Dancer Days celebration at the fairgrounds, but it also brought up an interesting question: Who owns the aging picnic table at the beer garden? Event co-organizer Harriet Rice noted the Gandy Dancer Days is moving ahead as slated and will offer several new and unique events and activities for the celebration, including several new activities noted elsewhere in the Sentinel.
“We’ll have activities on all three days,” Rice said. “Thanks to some people who came on board with some new events.”
She pointed to races, yard sales, pickleball tournaments and more, with a few changes, including Webster High cross-country coach Roy Ward taking over the 5K run/walk, as a school fundraiser. Rice also mentioned several new events and additions, including on opening day, Friday, Aug.12.
• Harriet Rice also said the chamber of commerce has received a $1,200 grant from Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative to be used for website maintenance and a new public address system, which will be used at Gandy Dancer Days.
She also noted that while there will be a beer garden on all three days, as they were preparing they found an ‘extra picnic table that doesn’t belong to the Fair Society, chamber of commerce or the village, and it needs repair or removal.
“You mean somebody may have just dropped off their old picnic table?” trustee Tm Maloney said with laugh.
The mystery tables’ disposal or repair will be handled by the village crew, Roberts assured, although the source of the mystery table was never solved as to who owned it or where it came from.
• Police Chief Stephanie Wedin had good news that they have secured an agreement and contract with a new police officer, sponsoring him to attend the police academy, with an ultimate goal of having him work as a village officer, for an extended period of time, at least four years, helping to alleviate a shortage of police coverage the village has experienced of late.
The new officer will be able to perform some basic duties for the police department until then but will not work as a true police officer until after he competes and passes the academy, which will likely be this fall. He will be sworn-in upon course completion, also.