City council signals joint meeting with Northern Township to discuss avenues for extending service without annexation

The Bemidji City Council further discussed options for extending city sewer and water to Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge and beyond ahead of Beltrami County’s planned construction on Birchmont Beach Road in 2024.

Northern Township has a $5 million federal grant for infrastructure construction on the north side of Lake Bemidji.

Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge is under monitoring by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for a failing septic system. The resort has received a number of extensions from the MPCA to address the issues of raw sewage seeping from one of the septic drain fields.

Northern Township official Jess Frenzel was present in the galley for this approximately one-hour discussion on the various opinions offered by council members.

Ron Johnson spoke on the city’s history of connecting Lake Irving and Birchmont Drive to city services and emphasized looking at the lake as a whole picture.

Council member Lynn Eaton said the sticking point here is deviating from city policy to connect without annexation.

Council member Emelie Rivera motioned her support for an MOU for quick action to protect the lake .

Ultimately, the council reached a consensus to add a resolution to the agenda next week, inviting Northern Township to a separate joint meeting.

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