Rebate program approved for Bardwell Park, firearms ordinance public hearing delayed

The Bemidji City Council approved a series of rebates to incentivize the Bardwell Park neighborhood’s connection to city water.

In addition to the water access connection, or WAC, fee waiver, the council also approved up to $4,000 in rebates for the area immediately southeast of the city’s well field to connect to the now-treated water system.

The program is around PFAs, which were first detected in the city’s wells about 13 years ago, and the rebates will come from settlement dollars with 3M.

City Engineer Craig Gray doesn’t anticipate that all 19 parcels with private wells in that area will participate.

The rebate program will expire on Nov. 1, 2022.

The council did not hold the anticipated public hearing on the amended firearms code.

The issue relates to hunting within the Bemidji Game Refuge, which has a number of its own rules.

As the city code currently stands, discharging a firearm is prohibited within city limits.

The latest round of annexation brought a segment of the Bemidji Game Refuge into city limits, with residents in the area able to hunt with shotguns and muzzleloaders before the annexation.

Rifle hunting was never permitted in the Refuge.

Proposed amendments discussed include prohibiting slugs inside shotguns.

Property owners within the Refuge must register with the city and also own at least 5 acres of land to be considered eligible to hunt in the area.

The representative of this newly-annexed area, Ron Johnson, didn’t approve of the acre limit.

Nancy Erickson, who sits on the Deer Committee, said the 5-acre limit is a public safety concern due to the development in the area.

A motion to adopt the 5-acre limit and the shotgun slug prohibition passed 6-1, with the public hearing moved to the first in-person regular council meeting of the year on July 6.

The council also approved:

  • Issuing a loan to the Rural Fire Association in the amount of $500,000, payable through 2027, at an interest rate of one percent.
  • A motion to purchase a fire truck vehicle for the Deputy Fire Chief.
  • A change of use of the Bemidji Paper Company building. The building is leased through the city, as it lies within the city-owned Rail Corridor. Bemidji Paper has ceased operations and the building will be transformed into a photography studio.

The next meeting of the council is a work session this Monday, which is billed as an in-person joint meeting with representatives of Beltrami County.

Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University. You can follow along with Larissa's live tweets of meetings and events on Twitter!

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