The City of Scandia is facing a lawsuit over its recent denial of a community dock expansion.
A group of homeowners within the Tii Gavo neighborhood on Big Marine Lake filed a lawsuit early last week seeking to overturn the city council’s decision to deny the addition of 10 boat slips to the homeowners association’s shared dock in Painted Turtle Bay.
According to documents obtained by the Country Messenger, the lawsuit contends that the city arbitrarily and unreasonably applied its own ordinances, ignored the advice of the city’s Planning Commission and “relied on conjecture, baseless assumptions, and unsupported anecdotes” in denying the expansion. The lawsuit asks the courts to overturn the council decision and also asks for $50,000 in damages and related costs.
The Scandia City Council met in closed session last week to confer with the city attorney, and announced that they would seek further legal counsel as recommend by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust.
Last May, the Tii Gavo homeowners association argued that the dock expansion is necessary because competition among the residents to use the dock’s shared day slips was creating more boat traffic through the environmentally sensitive bay and channel than would occur if the additional boat slips were allowed. The dock currently has 19 boat slips, of which 16 are privately held and three are available to homeowners for day-use only. There are approximately 29 homes in the Tii Gavo neighborhood.
The council, however, contended that the number of boat slips was limited based on the 2007 development agreement and should remain the same.
Council members Chris Ness and Steve Kronmiller, who both held different official roles at the time that the Tii Gavo subdivision was created, argued against the expansion.
Kronmiller, then a Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District manager, said the number of slips was negotiated based on a careful reading of how many potential traditional lakeshore lots might’ve been allowed under existing development laws.
Ness, who had been a city planning commission member in 2007, agreed.
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“It’s a tough deal and I understand the situation about why people want this, but at the time that this was created they were to have a certain amount of slips and then that was it,” Ness said in June.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the watershed district both recommended denial of the expansion, as did City Planner Merritt Clapp-Smith.
The city’s planning commission was unanimously in favor of the expansion.
Following a discussion with members of the city’s Internet Focus Group, the council voted to form an official committee to work with Consolidated Telephone Company (CTC) on a possible fiber-to-the-premises internet expansion in the city.
The move effectively puts on hold the council’s June 5 decision to partner with Midco in pursuing a Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) matching grant.
Kronmiller, who has led the focus group until now, said going after the DEED grant with Midco at this point would essentially make the city’s pursuit of future grants more difficult.
“The more we pick off now, the harder it is to get these grants,” he said.
Ness and Mayor Christine Maefsky also expressed hesitation about the city possibly investing in the wrong solution.
“The [Midco representative] sounded like a high-pressure sales pitch to me,” Ness said.
• The council debated the language of a draft letter to the Lower St. Croix River Management Commission recommending that the commission review the concerns raised about boat wakes on the river. The draft letter is to be revised and presented again at a later date.
• The council agreed to purchase three additional highway entryway signs at a cost of $52 each recognizing the city’s Step 3 achievement of the Minnesota GreenStep Cities program.
• The council accepted the resignation of part-time office staffer Judi Negus. The council approved a process to fill the vacancy and an updated job description, which adds in Negus’s current duties as parks and recreation programming coordinator.