Hannabelle says: You can fight
City Hall. Just don't expect to win.
Back in 2007 when the battle
began, five men in Onamia held complete power over our neighborhood in
Bradbury Township, its residents, our future.
These were elected officials
but we could not vote or run in the elections. Our own elected officials in
Bradbury Township were powerless to stop Onamia from doing whatever it
wanted to us because Onamia was "city" and we were not. The five men
were on the city council: Larry Milton, Bob Mickus, Bill Hill Jr., Jerome
Kryzer, and Mark Loch.
The battle was about 38 acres
in Bradbury Township which the city of Onamia would annex, purchase, sell to
the Nexus Corporation, and rezone it to build a multi-million dollar
unlocked juvenile treatment facility. We fought them every step of the way.
With each step we found malfeasance and misfeasance, incompetence,
unprofessional behavior, unwise decisions, illegality, and a total lack of
For example, Minnesota Statute
264.357 specifically and succinctly states:
"Subd. 7. Permitted single family use. A
state licensed residential facility...shall be considered a permitted single
family residential use of property for the purposes of zoning, except that
a residential facility whose primary
purpose is to treat juveniles who have violated criminal statutes relating
to sex offenses or have been adjudicated delinquent on the basis of conduct
in violation of criminal statutes relating to sex offenses shall not be
considered a permitted use."
This should have been a clue
that putting 94 convicted juvenile sex offenders in a commercial institution
in an R1 single family zoned neighborhood was a poor idea. But this council
would not be deterred. They ignored the law, ignored the opposing citizens.
The city council solved their problem by misclassifying the property and
then changing ordinances, at one point permitting each R2 zoned property in
Onamia to build its own juvenile sex offender treatment center.
It soon became clear that they
would do whatever it took to actualize their pet project. This included
bullying, coercion, threats, name-calling, shouting at citizens, violating
the Open Meeting Law, and going through the motions of holding public
meetings when their minds had been made up long ago that Nexus would
There were no environmental
impact studies, no traffic study, no studies of any kind.
The city council members lied
to the public about safety risk - with no regard to public endangerment.
There was a pile of false and misleading propaganda on the city clerk's desk
- free for the public. They charged the Bradbury citizens 25 cents per page
for city council meeting agendas. They handed Nexus, a company with a $40
million dollar annual budget a vast amount of taxpayer money as incentives.
As if Nexus had anywhere else to go... The city council thought Brainerd
wanted them there, but they didn't. Nexus didn't want to pay taxes, which
limited them to the gullible likes of Onamia and Mille Lacs County.
The citizens were forced into
a position of becoming activists. We uncovered a lot of corrupt, scandalous
activities involving Milton (including the Kenny Apel deal). At the time, we
were unaware that his son Sheldon was a
predatory sex offender. Nor did we know that Mickey Carter
the Zoning Administrator would be arrested and convicted for possessing
child pornography. But we had discovered enough shady business dealings to
call in the FBI.
It was rare that the entire
city council assembled at once. Jerome Kryzer lived in Arizona during the
winter and missed the maximum number of meetings allowed to remain a
councilman. Bob Mickus missed nearly as many meetings as Kryzer did.
(Personally, I only missed one - when I was in the hospital.) When voting,
never did they recuse themselves due to conflicts, although there were many.
In 2007, when we uncovered
that the city council was breaking its own ordinance and had been for years
- by not appointing a City Planning Committee and Board of Adjustments as
was required, the City Council appointed themselves to be the Planning
Committee and Board.
It became pretty obvious that
when it came to anything more than basic city business, these 5 greedy
buffoons didn't know what the hell they were doing. But in the long run,
they got it done. They succeeded in placing 24 convicted juvenile sex
offenders into a vulnerable neighborhood next to child day care centers and
scared old ladies.
This is not the kind of people
we need in our government - especially at the lowest rung of the ladder. If
local government is allowed to be corrupt, how is it possible to control
corruption at the state and federal levels?
It is this writer's opinion
that proven good, upstanding taxpaying long term residents with seniority in
the community should somehow get better consideration than sex offenders
from other counties an other states who will occupy a MLA bed for 12-18
months - without contributing anything to the town, and if anything,
potentially endangering its good citizens.
We've all heard it: the love
of money is the root of all evil. We've also heard that money can't buy
happiness. But it can buy new carpets.
Larry Milton is dead. Bob
Mickus became the new mayor and has since resigned. Mark Loch moved away.
That leaves only Bill Hill Jr. and Jerome Kryzer from the city council of
2007. Although there will never be another Nexus in Onamia, those people who
can run for office and vote for candidates should pay attention and do what
they can to ensure that they have the good government that they deserve.
OACRG members presenting their petition
opposing the annexation, acquisition, and sale of 38 acres to Nexus. The
city council rejected it, with the mayor having drawn up his own petition to
approve the project. His was signed by out of county friends and family of
Nexus employees, faked signatures, and several repeated signatures - i.e. he
So unfair. So sad.
Back in 2007...
The Onamia city council had
already determined the relocation site and worked out most of the plan
details before neighborhood citizens had a clue that 94 convicted sex
offenders were moving in next door. Property owners were blind-sided by the
city. Shortly before Bradbury residents discovered the city's surprise, the
Mille Lacs Messenger had published an article
(March 15, 2006) which stated that the new sex offender
facility would possibly be built on land owned by the Crosiers , which
turned out not to be the case at all.
"[Councilman Bill] Hill showed the
council a number of prospective building sites, which could be made
available to Nexus, the most promising of which is a parcel currently owned
by the Crosiers, located east and across Hwy 169 from the Academy’s current
home in the Crosier building."
In a Messenger article
(March 7, 2007) it was reported:
"Nexus has expressed an interest on nearly 40
acres of land owned by Leonard and Helen Vanderpoel near the Onamia
"It is a nice piece of property," Milton said
of the Vanderpoel location. "But there are other properties that already
have sewer and water with less work required on the roads."
When a surprise new location
was announced a month later, Bradbury residents were shocked to find that
the sex offender facility would be build in Bradbury Township. The 38.81
acres did not already have sewer and water, was farther away, and also
required work on the roads. Residents felt as if they had been betrayed and
For the next two years, a
small group of citizens (those most affected by having sex offenders
next to their homes) fought the Onamia city council. This new section of the
Mille Lacs News is dedicated to bringing you the story.
It will take time to
reorganize our web site and bring you details, but we intend to expose the
malfeasance and incompetence of the mayor, the city council, the zoning
administrator, and the city attorney as they conspired to aggressively
insert sex offenders into an opposing residential neighborhood of
"outsiders", changing laws along the way to strip away the rights of
property owners. What happened to us was unconscionable abuse of power. And
it could happen to anyone.