Businesses and nonprofits can use funds to recoup revenue losses

The city of Forest Lake has designated $300,000 of the city’s $1.5 million allocation of CARES Act funds to be used as a grant program for local businesses and nonprofits. 

The priority for funding is designated toward for-profit businesses and self-employed/home-based businesses on a first-come, first-served basis. Nonprofits will be funded after for-profit and self-employed businesses.

For-profit businesses or nonprofits registered as 501(c)(3), 501(c)(6), or 501(c)(19) can apply for the grants. Entities must be established before Jan. 1, 2020, have a physical address in Forest Lake and be able to demonstrate the impact of COVID-19 on revenue.

For-profit businesses with no more than 50 full-time employees can receive up to $15,000, and self-employed or non-employer home-based businesses can receive up to $7,500. Nonprofits can receive up to $15,000 on a first-come first-served basis following for-profit funding.

The initial draft presented to the council during its Sept. 14 meeting excluded all for-profit businesses or nonprofit entities who derived revenue from gambling from applying, but the council added an amendment to allow those entities who could prove revenue losses outside of gambling to apply. 

As of press time on Tuesday, the city of Forest Lake intended to open the application process on Wednesday, Sept. 16, and will close on Sept. 30. Applications will be reviewed and then approved by the Economic Development Authority on Oct. 12. Funds are expected to be released by Oct. 26.

For more information, visit ci.forest-lake.mn.us 

Storage site approved

The city also approved a planned unit development agreement with Minnesota Lakes Mini Storage, a self-storage facility, located at 4470 220th St. N. along Everton Avenue North in Forest Lake. Area residents commented on the property’s development, both at the Sept. 14 meeting and in prior Planning Commission meetings.

Emily Liddicoat, whose backyard faces the west end of the property, listed concerns over not enough screening, specifically regarding a lack of trees bordering the west side of the development. Dick Biagini, the owner and developer of the property, and zoning administrator Donovan Hart indicated that trees with a minimum height of 35 feet would be planted along the site, which had been approved by the Planning Commission. 

Council Member Kathy Bystrom initially indicated concerns over the issue. 

“I’m having a little bit of a tough time with this one right now. I came in fully prepared and listening to our residents, … feeling confident these issues were resolved, and I’m not feeling quite as confident as I once was,” she said.

Hart indicated that this project has been under extensive review with the commission, and concerns regarding the tree buffer around the property have been discussed at length at previous Planning Commission meetings by both the commission and public. Mayor Mara Bain reminded council that some area residents had also indicated they preferred the use of land for a storage facility.

“I’m just trying to assess if this was a new issue they’re having, or is the plan moving forward as it was outlined on paper,” Bystrom said. “This is not a new problem we have at this point, it sounds like.”

The council unanimously approved the development.

Body cams

The Forest Lake Police Department plans to implement body-worn cameras. Chief Rick Peterson said during the Aug. 10 council meeting that body-worn cameras would be issued to every officer in the Police Department and would be activated during responses to calls. 

Peterson said that his officers have been requesting the body-worn cameras, but the department wasn’t able to obtain and implement them largely due to budget considerations. Now, body-worn cameras will cost roughly $10,000 per year, with lower costs expected to continue. The body-worn camera implementation was supposed to occur early this year but had to be put on hold due to the pandemic. 

The public is invited to comment or ask questions regarding the body camera policy, which is expected to go into effect at the end of September or beginning of October. 

To read more about the policy and to hear council’s discussion of the policy, read the article “Forest Lake Police Department to implement body cams” in The Times’ Aug. 20 issue or on the paper’s website at tinyurl.com/y6brwa3f. 

To submit feedback to the department, visit ci.forest-lake.mn.us/CivicAlerts.

Hannah Davis is the Area Editor at the Forest Lake Times. You can contact her at hannah.davis@ecm-inc.com or (763)233-0709

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