East of Big Marine Lake in Scandia are the smaller Sand Lake, Hay Lake, Long Lake and Fish Lake. Another body of water, Jellum’s Bay, is similar to these in size but almost touches the easternmost part of Big Marine Lake. It is considered part of Big Marine.
At one point the land bridge between the two is just wide enough for 188th Street, but where it widens, the street has lake-front houses.
According to Steve Kronmiller, who lives at 13450 188th St., the street has been moved twice over the years, once for safety and once for water quality. The most recent realignment was in 2001, when New Scandia was a township.
A community drain field serving five homes was failing, he said. The 201 sewer system was extended to the area at the same time as the road was shifted. The township, county and watershed district were involved.
With the road moved, some residents now have driveways on land owned by the city. And the old gravel road is not used.
Kronmiller said property owners along 188th Street were to receive land from the township, per an agreement reached in 2003, but that never happened because the federal government would not remove a lien.
“The plan to convey land to adjoining landowners was halted when releases could not be obtained from the federal and state government for the old drain field that was purchased with 201 wastewater grant funds,” City Administrator Kristina Handt wrote in the council packet for the Jan. 21 meeting.
The drain field was surveyed and the paperwork ready to record at the county, Handt said, but before the land could be conveyed to anyone, the city would have to pay back half the value of the drain field land. The land was not appraised and no pay-back is planned.
The process came to a stop about the same time as New Scandia Township was becoming the City of Scandia.
Ten years later Steve and Irene Kronmiller spoke at the Nov. 6, 2013 council work session, asking the city to re-start the process.
The city could grant easements to give the Kronmillers and their neighbors legal access to the street.
“My home [originally] was within 30 feet of the platted street,” Kronmiller said. “When I bought it in 1996, the road was 100 feet from the house. Now it’s almost 200 feet.” Current county records show the house still 30 feet from the street, he added.
“People have cut down trees there, saying it’s in the right-of-way,” Kronmiller said. “We would like to plant trees and maintain that. Can we treat that land as if it was ours?”
The city also owns Birch Lane, the old gravel road that was not paved because of a sharp turn. A city can vacate a street if it is in the interest of the public. Per state law, the vacated land goes to adjacent property owners.
A public hearing is the first step in dealing with Birch Lane. At the Jan. 21 meeting, the council voted to hold a hearing on vacating portions of Birch Lane between 188th Street and Elm Street as part of the regular City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
Only part of Birch Lane is proposed to be vacated. The city would keep a 30-foot-wide section for access to Big Marine Lake and would also hold a 60-foot right-of-way along 188th Street. Both of these provisions were originally approved by the Town Board.