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Supervisor takes issue with Thomson letter

Board Supervisor Jason Paulson brought a complaint issued against him by the town attorney onto the township’s agenda and asked the board to change the town attorney.

Thomson Town Hall
The Thomson Township Hall
Izabel Johnson / 2021 File / Pine Journal

The Thomson Township’s annual organizational meeting on Thursday, Jan. 6, started off with electing a new chair and vice chair, but soon moved to focus on an issue from one of the supervisors.

After Ruth Janke was chosen as the new chair and Bill Gerrard as the vice chair, Jason Paulson asked to entertain a motion for different legal council.

This was in response to the township’s attorney, Dave Pritchett, sending a letter to Paulson on behalf of the board accusing him of township ordinance violations.

The complaint was based on Paulson moving gravel from a public road himself to solve a drainage issue on his property. Paulson said the letter called him a “gravel thief.”

“I was trying to do what I could to stop public water coming on my property,” he said.

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Pritchett, who has been the township attorney for over 30 years apologized to the board for sending the letter as “on behalf of the board.”

As he had never had to send a letter of this nature to a board member before, Pritchett said he didn’t introduce himself as a representative to the township as he normally would have to another citizen, as Paulson knows who he is.

None of the other board members supported or made a motion for new or different legal representation.

Paulson added the issue was something he had tried to get township help with for over three years and decided to do something about it himself.

Pritchett said his letter was not targeting Paulson, but a response from a meeting held with town staff about complaints.

“We discourage people from self-help when it comes to our roads,” Pritchett said. “There is actually state laws about those things.”

According to Pritchett, township staff were not aware that Paulson was going to be working on the township road.

Some of the other items listed in the complaint against Paulson included zoning issues on his property where he was supposed to decommission the living space in his garage, but allegedly has not.

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After a tense exchange between Paulson and township zoning official Dan Stangle, Stangle told Paulson it was his brother who informed the township about the issue as he wanted to try and do the same thing.

Town staff also said Paulson does not have a certificate of occupancy for his house, which is required for the house to be livable.

Paulson's response was that it had been done five years ago when it was built.

A resolution to the discussion came when the board agreed to have the township engineer go out and look at the property and put it as a priority.

At first Paulson disagreed, saying the property had already been looked at three years ago and nothing was done. However, the rest of the board wanted the township’s engineer to look at it again before any other decisions are made.

The other zoning and permit issues will be resolved individually and not through the board.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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