Crane Lake Township

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July 8, 2003: Minutes


The July 8, 2003 Board of Supervisors’ Meeting was called to order by Chairman Ruth Carlson at 7:30PM, at the Crane Lake Chapel Fellowship Hall with the Pledge of Allegiance recited by those in attendance including:  Supervisors Ruth L. Carlson, Terrie Hoff and Mark Anderson, Treasurer Jacque Eggen, Clerk Jo Ann Pohlman, a reporter from the Cook News-Herald, a reporter from the Voyageur Sentinel and 25 members of the community.


Additions to the Agenda:  New Business:  Review letter from St. Louis County Sheriff regarding home safety.


Minutes – Motion by Terrie, supported by Mark to approve the minutes of the June 10, 2003 Board of Supervisors’ Meeting.  Motion carried.


Treasurer’s Report – Jacque read the following Cash Flow Statement for the month of June:  Beginning Balance – $5,897.94, Receipts – $24,757.52, Disbursements – $3,091.84, Ending Balance – $27,563.62.  Jacque then presented the bills as follows:  Crane Lake Fireworks – $200.00; Colosimo, Patchin, Kearney, Lindell – $247.50; MN Assoc. of Twp – $140.00; IRS – $186.44; CLVTB – $1,215.03; CLVFD – $19,000.00; Postmaster – $111.00; and Payroll – $324.41.  A motion was made by Mark, supported by Terrie to approve the Treasurer’s report as read and the payment of bills.  Motion carried.


Correspondence – The Clerk presented the correspondence.  The correspondence was received as read and will be placed on file and acted upon as required.




Tobacco Licensing & Regulation – A motion was made by Terrie, supported by Mark to adopt Ordinance No. 2003-01 for issuance of licenses for and regulation of tobacco in the Town of Crane Lake.  Discussion followed.  Mark asked if we would be hiring anyone this year.  Ruth explained that this would happen in 2004 and she understood that the Board must send under age people into establishments to attempt to purchase tobacco products.  Jacque asked if we knew what actual costs would accrue other than publishing the ordinance.  The ordinance will go into effect on October 1, 2003.  Ruth mentioned that we can try this for a year and return the responsibility to the County if it does not work.  Advice was received from Portage Township on their experiences relating to tobacco.  Motion carried.


Web Site – The web site is up but not running.  Clerk Jo Ann plans to work on this soon.


Land Swap – Letters were sent out to the three organizations in the Township explaining the land swap and asking for their support.  A newsletter and map will be sent to property owners in the Township near the end of July explaining the land swap.


Newsletter – A newsletter will be sent at least each summer to all Crane Lake residents.  This will inform all interested parties of what is going on in the Township.


Board Appointment Policy – It will be necessary for the Board of Supervisors to appoint members to other boards in the future.  The Board felt it was necessary to have a policy for board appointments.  Committee members Ruth, Jacque and Jo Ann worked out a policy and forwarded it to Mark and Terrie for their review and comment.  A motion was made by Terrie, supported by Mark to approve the policy.  Discussion followed.  If there is an appointment to be made, the position will be posted and published.  There will be an application to complete and sign.  A cover letter and background resume will also be required.  Motion carried.


MAT Short Course in Grand Rapids 7/31/03 – Four members of the Board will attend the Short Course which is a refresher course for township board members.







Letter from St. Louis County Sheriff – The letter is in regard to a pre-disaster program for the Township. Ruth suggested that the Fire Chief participate in completing the application.  A motion was made by Ruth, supported by Terrie requesting Fire Chief Jeff Sanborn and Clerk Jo Ann complete the application.  Motion carried.


Chairman Ruth introduced William Traff and thanked him for his interest before turning the floor over to him for his presentation.


William Luce Traff introduced himself to the Board and community members present.  The realtor initially told him that there was a road on the island.  He plans to build in 2 to 5 years.  He currently has a frontier building and an outhouse.  He has no plans to build condos and does not plan to do any commercial logging.  He has used a chipper to chip trees that were cut by the power company.  He proposed that the road be used in the future for the sewer project. He meant to be a good neighbor, put up a cabin and have the road for use by all island residents.  St. Louis County Planning and Zoning was contacted for permission to build the road.  Mr. Traff proposes that the Town Board approve and accept the work he has done and contract with him to finish the work and he would perform maintenance and upkeep on the road until he or the Board gives notice to terminate the agreement.


Some public comment follows:


Ginny Marshall – A load of logs was removed – 10 to 15 trees were cut last winter.  Mr. Traff responded that the power company came through and cut the trees.  He chipped them.


Wes Gatzke asked who removed the trees.  Mr. Traff did not know.


Wes Gatzke said he spoke to Mr. Traff about washing his tractor on the barge into the lake.  Mr. Traff said he stopped after Mr. Gatzke spoke to him.


Charles Crockett said cutting of the trees is a bigger issue than the removal of the trees.  The trees were cut far south of the Traff property and of the power line.  It is not Mr. Traff’s job to be the caretaker of the island.  Mr. Crockett is concerned about the future.  Mr. Traff responded that he would be happy to walk the property with anyone to review the survey lines.


Charles Crockett also said that the north shore properties of Bear Island were  considered by others for development.  No one pursued because no one else considered using the road.


Bill Traft stated that Mark Johnson of St. Louis County gave him permission to build road and that no permit is required to build a public road.  He only wants a road to get to his cabin.


Ginny Marshall said the Gatzke’s and the Erding’s have lost the tranquility they had by him seeking tranquility for himself.


Wes Gatzke feels the park property dedicated to public use was put on the tax rolls in the Phiefer’s name so no one would pay the taxes as they have passed away.  If no one pays the property taxes, the land will be forfeited and an individual can than purchase the land.


Gene Erding asked if an environmental study was done before changing the shoreline.  Mr. Traff said no study was required.


There were other similar comments.



Chairman Ruth than thanked Mr. Traff for his presentation and called upon Doug Marshall and Charles Crockett for their presentation.


Doug Marshall began by stating that no one has a problem with Mr. Traff getting power to his property; they do have a problem with the dock, the road to the park and the road to his cabin.  Following is a synopsis of Mr. Marshall’s presentation:


A plat map of Bear Island was displayed.  Mr. Marshall pointed out that the perimeter of the island has been divided into lots.  The Center of the island was dedicated to the public in 1956.  The dedicated area is known as Highland Park.  The area has been used all these years by hikers, berry pickers and hunters.  Lake Country Power has used the so-called roadway as their power line right-of-way.  The legal department of Lake Country Power tells us that their right-of-way abuts the back property line of the lots but is actually on the public land.  Their legal department also informs us that because they have right-of-way for their power lines, that doesn’t allow someone to build a road under their lines.


Several years ago, lots 63, 64, and 65 were purchased; later lots 1 & 2 were purchased by the same individual.  Power was brought in to some of these lots.  We have no problem with that.  We do have a problem with what has happened since then.  That individual has created a dock and landing on public land.  He has created a roadway of ½ mile or more across the public land to his lots.


As we stated in our request for an audience before the Township Board, we wanted an opportunity to explain why we were pursuing legal action to close the road and the landing that has been developed on public land.  It is illegal to construct such a road across public land.  We wish 1) To inform the Board how we were attempting to achieve our goal of closing the road and dock area.  At this time there is a temporary restraining order to stop the defendant from any further roadway or dock construction.  2) We are seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the defendant from construction or development of docks and roadways on the public land.  3) That the defendant be ordered to restore the property upon which they have constructed the roadway & dock to the condition it was prior to the construction. 4) For such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and equitable.


What we hope to achieve tonight is for the Township of Crane Lake to join the many families of Bear Island in the legal action to close the road and boat landing that has been constructed on public land.  As a new Township, we believe you must also consider the precedent that will be set if you allow an individual to construct roads and landings without permission, permits, or easements on property controlled by the Township.


Dorothy Bergerson said that they have nothing against Bill Traff personally, they want to be neighborly; but they are against what has happened.


Chairman Ruth stated that many issues had been presented and a decision would not be made by the Board without legal council.  A motion was made by Ruth, supported by Terrie to receive legal advice before making any decisions on this issue.  Motion carried.


PUBLIC COMMENTS – Some of the comments were as follows:


Charlie Crockett – Is there a vague estimate of time on how long legal advice would take.  Ruth answered no.


Chairman Ruth requested that Mr. Traft and Mr. Marshall keep the Board informed of any new developments.


Mike Siegley asked the following questions:

1) Is the correspondence going to be on the website?  Ruth said possibly the correspondence would be listed; but it would be difficult to post all correspondence on the website.  The Clerk can be contacted for correspondence information.


2) Is there still an open seat on the sewer board?  Ruth said the County has been contacted and there has been no response.  The Town is not shirking its duty and does not want to usurp anyone’s power by proceeding.

3) Regarding the land swap.  Is there a big master plan that has been given out to the Snowmobile Club and other organizations.  Ruth responded that a simple land sway is in the concept stage now.  At the August public meeting the public will vote on the issue before it is pursued.  Information is available to anyone who is interested.

4) Is it correct that the Town does not have Planning and Zoning?  Yes that is correct.

5) Has there been any other correspondence regarding his homestead request since 6/4/03.  Ruth responded no.  Mike requested that all correspondence regarding his homestead request be sent to him.  Clerk Jo Ann will do so.


Phil Byers said that Bill Traff is his son-in-law.  He requested that the Board make every effort to get facts and not rely on information that is interesting.  Examples of premature comments; if not, in fact, in error are:

1) All property owners on Bear Island are not unified.  Some property owners have used entrance and road.

2) Hearsay about the trees and where they went should not be an issue.

3) The large pine was cut by the power company.

4) One party’s lawyer that makes an argument is not a point of law.

5) Illegal acts were alleged to have been done but are yet to be determined.

6) Flagging related to potential sewer and other surveys and there may be more to come.

7) He believes the swath was cut for telephone line to the cabin.

8) Environmental statements have not been obtained for other projects on the island.

9) Drainage tubes are there for a good purpose.



COMMENTS BY OFFICERS – Terrie is glad Tobacco Licensing & Regulation will no longer be on Old Business.  Ruth thanked all for being at the meeting and hope they are satisfied with the opportunity of free speech.


The next Regular Board Meeting will be August 12, 2003 at 7:30PM at the Groomer Garage.  The Reconvened Annual Meeting will follow.


There being no further business the meeting was adjourned by Chairman Ruth at 9:00PM.





Jo Ann Pohlman, Clerk                                                           Ruth Carlson, Chairman