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Zoning OK'd for Pelican RV park

Detroit Lakes Planning Commission approved a rezone for the proposed River Hills RV Park and a parking waiver for the county Thursday night.

The RV Park, which has been annexed into the city, is zoned R-A, residential-agricultural district. The planning commission requested a public meeting to rezone the land to R-2, one and two family residential district.

The reason for the request is most residential land in the city is already zoned R-2.

"It conforms to existing zoning throughout the city," Community Development Director Larry Remmen said.

He added that if the city hadn't made the request, the developer, Patrick Onstad, would have, because R-A districts are unclear about allowing Planned Unit Developments, but R-2 clearly allows PUDs.

Lake View Township Supervisor Gail Hahn said the township's attorney, Patrick Kenney, had sent a letter on the township's behalf, questioning the development. She said the developer hadn't responded and "doesn't seem to be acting in good faith."

Meadowland Surveying's Scott Walz said he and Onstad are in the process of answering the township's questions and have already redrawn the plans to satisfy some of the concerns of the township.

"It's not our intent to hold off until the last minute, but when we submit them (the plans), we want it to be correct," he said.

The commission sat quietly, barely discussing the rezone. Finally, commission member Chris Bergen spoke up.

"Wouldn't we extend R-2 in a heartbeat if it were any other land?" he questioned. Several nods of agreement came.

The commission passed the rezoning unanimously.

Becker County also came before the commission to request a parking waiver for the proposed courthouse expansion.

The existing courthouse is 60,000 square feet and has 80 parking spots available. The addition is 40,000 square feet, which would require 180 more parking spaces. Spaces are determined by one space per 200 square feet of a public building.

The county is asking for a waiver so it only has to supply 100 parking spots, which are proposed to come in the form of a parking ramp at the backside of the Washington Square Mall public parking lot.

The proposed $2.5 million ramp would be paid $2 million by the county and $500,000 by the city. The ramp hasn't been approved yet.

Commission member Judy Stowman asked how the planning commission could vote to pass a waiver for a ramp that isn't even approved yet.

Remmen said the waiver has to be approved before the ramp can go forward.

"We (the city and county) are certainly not going to build a ramp if you (the planning commission) are not going to give them (the county) a waiver," Remmen said.

He also explained that the county is simply asking for a waiver for this parking ramp. If the ramp project fails, the county will have to come back and request a variance (not just a waiver) to the parking requirements and find other land for the additional spaces.

County Administrator Brian Berg said after the building project, the courthouse will lose about eight to 10 existing parking spaces in the back of the courthouse.

Business owner Michael Norby spoke in favor of the parking ramp. He said there is a need for public parking and courthouse parking in the downtown area.

"This is a good accommodation," commissioner member Ginny Imholte said.

The parking waiver passed unanimously.