Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, Nov. 12, 2001

LP police take to snowmobiles

Lester Prairie police officers will take to a snowmobile this winter in an effort to reduce problems created by misbehaving snowmobile drivers.

The Lester Prairie City Council approved a request by Police Chief Fred Blaser Wednesday to lease a snowmobile for three months, giving the police department another option to enforce snowmobiling rules.

"When you turn on the red lights (of the squad car), they (snowmobiles) just take off . . ." Blaser said of past enforcement efforts.

Typical problems are speeding and driving in prohibited areas.

Blaser noted that in one case of stolen snowmobiles last year, the police department was able to borrow a couple other snowmobiles and then was able to successfully recover the stolen vehicles and find the thieves.

The council approved spending up to $1,500 for the snowmobile lease, with a report to be made to council after the season on the program's effectiveness.

Blaser will also prepare a policy stating terms of usage of the snowmobile.

Park land purchase

The council approved the purchase of about 49 acres of property from the Schmidt estate at the east side of town for future park land.

The price is $50,000, with a grant from the DNR paying $22,000 of the cost. The city is asking the seller to cover other associated costs of the sale.

Eventually, the land will be annexed into the city, council members said.

Variance

The council and citizens spent nearly an hour debating a proposal by Brian Gatz to build mini-storage units on property near the east end of town.

Because the property is located in a manufacturing district, a 50-foot rear setback is required.

Gatz requested a variance to four feet, but due to neighbors' concerns, the council approved a variance to a 14-foot setback.

The neighbors' concerns included traffic onto their property and drifting snow.

Since the planning commission had seen the plans earlier in the week, Gatz had reworked the layout on the lot to address setbacks, but also added more units.

The council's approval whittled four units off the 52-unit plan in order to increase the setback. Gatz was also instructed to take some steps to prevent mini-storage users from going onto neighbor's property.


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