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Council 'sets parameters' for Zorbaz

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Detroit Lakes Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

In its final meeting, the Zorbaz issue has come to an end. The Detroit Lakes City Council has set the parameters for the project, and owner Tom Hanson can take it or leave.

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After months of debate, compromise and opposition, the council passed a motion to allow the parking, setback and impervious variances the business had requested, but with a few hitches. Like any project, the business must get a Pelican River Watershed District permit for stormwater treatment.

Zorbaz must also enclose the north and east ends of the new 2,800-square-foot addition and the east side of the existing outdoor bar to help buffer the noise from live bands.

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kel Keena said from April 1, 2009, to April 1 of this year, the police department has received 21 noise complaints regarding Zorbaz. Of those, 11 have been for music and 10 for disruptive patrons. Of the 11 music calls, nine were valid and the bar staff was asked to turn down the music. The calls were made various nights throughout the summer, May through September.

Zorbaz was never cited and fined for a noise violation.

As for parking, the business, with the addition, will have a total of five parking spaces on-site. The business is required by variance to have 78 -- 63 for the new addition and 15 for the spaces lost with the addition.

In the motion, the council is requiring Zorbaz to have an agreement with another entity to provide those spots if it can't be done on-site. The Becker County Fairgrounds had been discussed in the past, and Phinney Avenue next to Peoples Park had also been discussed.

Right before the council approved the Zorbaz motion, it also entered into an agreement with Zorbaz to build the parking at Phinney Avenue. Hanson had previously offered $50,000 toward the parking lot, but in the name of fairness, the city is making Zorbaz pay $83,000, the cost to construct the parking lot. The remaining $40,000 would be for the stormwater treatment, which would come from the stormwater fund.

Besides paying the cost of construction of the lot, Zorbaz would also be charged $22 a month for stormwater fees, as any business owner of a parking lot would be.

Although petitions against the variances have been submitted and many neighbors have spoken at various committee meetings, the council said there is never going to be an option that makes everyone happy.

"We have tried to listen to all sides. Not everyone is going to be happy (regardless of the decisions). This is a workable solution, and we are trying to protect the neighbors (with enclosing the sides). It's a no win deal, but we've tried our best," Alderman Dave Aune said.

Alderman Bruce Imholte added that the police should start fining the establishment if the valid noise complaints continue.

The council voted in favor of the variances with the stipulations as noted. Alderman Jamie Marks Erickson voted opposed, saying the city is giving too many variances when the neighbors couldn't get variances for their own house projects.

Alderman Jim Anderson, who was acting as mayor for the evening, said that the parameters have been set and now it's up to Zorbaz to go ahead with the addition or not.

A public hearing regarding the expansion of Phinney Avenue to serve the new skating rink and Zorbaz has been set for the next city council meeting, May 11.

Also at the meeting, the council approved the Veterans Park design. George Peters said he stood before the board, representing the 3,500 veterans in Becker County to thank the city, specifically Public Works Director Brad Green, City Administrator Bob Lousieau and City Engineer John Pratt.

"I think we ended up with an awesome park. I think Detroit Lakes will be proud of it," he said.

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