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Council split over park fees for new RV park

While the plan for the proposed River Hills RV Park is going forward, there is one issue to cover -- park dedication fees.

At the Community Development Committee's Monday afternoon meeting Alderman Bruce Imholte brought up the fact that a park dedication fee had never surfaced in the nearly year-long discussion of the RV park.

He said he commends all the entities involved and developer Patrick Onstad for all their work to finally reaching a common ground, but was upset park dedication was never brought forward.

In residential developments, developers are required to either provide 6 percent of the value of the land in cash or 6 percent of the land to be used as a park, which the planning commission and park board determine.

Community Development Director Larry Remmen said he made a personal decision not to ask for the park dedication fee because the development was considered a commercial development until a few months ago when it had to be rezoned as residential, according to a similar court case.

If the park dedication is ignored in this case, Imholte said, "That sets a bad precedence." He said it wasn't right the planning commission and park board hadn't seen the plan in regards to dedication fees.

Alderman Jim Anderson said at this point, he felt asking the developer for the fee would be putting a burden on him. Alderman Matt Brenk agreed with Anderson because, he said, there was plenty of open green space in the plat already. There is about 60 percent green space.

Alderman Ron Zeman said that since the plat is only at the preliminary stage, he felt the planning commission and park board could still look at dedication fees.

Imholte said it was "surprising as hell" that his fellow council members would think it's all right to skip the park dedication fee process.

Alderman James Hannon agreed that the plat needs to go through the appropriate committees.

Mayor Larry Buboltz spoke up and said he feels this has been an 11-month process and "if we treat all of our developers this way, we've got a problem."

Alderman Leonard Heltemes said the issue is not the amount of green space, it's the channels the plat didn't go through.

Remmen said the planning commission knows about park dedication, and the group must not have felt it was important on this plat, since no one brought up the issue. He said the planning commission can look at the plat at the next meeting, but he still feels it's not necessary.

Alderman G.L. Tucker, who chairs the planning commission, said he doesn't want to delay the developer anymore.

"I can honestly say I never thought about it," Tucker said of the park dedication fee.

Tuesday night, the city council held a vote to pass the preliminary plat without the park dedication fee. It was amended to direct the planning commission and park board to review the park dedication fee.

"The development concerns and environmental concerns don't need to be at odds," Imholte said.

Zeman said Dick Pettit -- who is also a part of the RV park development -- called him Monday night to say he wanted to be a part of the park system and whatever the fee is, he would pay it.

Tucker said the easement Onstad agreed to along the river was a big deal. A piece of land more than 25 feet from the river was given as an environmental easement.

"This should not be taken lightly," he said. "That's like someone coming and making me give up my shoreline."

The council was reassured that having planning commission and park board review the park dedication fees would in no way slow the development process.

The amended motion passed unanimously, sending the plans to the park board and planning commission.

Also at the city council meeting, the council approved

n Financing of the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center.

The Detroit Lakes Development Authority will write off the balance of $1.4 million from the Public Utilities Commission. The city will levy $50,000 a year to pay the principal back to the PUC. Holmes Center, Inc. will pay $225,000 to the LDA for the QZAB debt service fund by June 1.

The city also entered into agreement with Holmes Center, Inc. to run the DLCCC for another five years.

The Holmes Center, Inc. board also agreed to make its meetings public and change its name to DLCCC, Inc. within the next year or two when grants in Holmes Center, Inc. name are finished.

Zeman, Hannon and Heltemes voted against the financing for DLCCC.

n The appointment and swearing in of Brent Fulton as a police officer, on probationary status, with the DLPD.

n The second reading and adoption of an ordinance annexing 35.73 acres near Willow Springs.

n A variance to allow a 14-unit apartment building at 1107 West River Road.

n Amended the agreement with MnDOT for the amount of ballast along the new Highway 10 project. It will be placed from Washington Avenue to Kris Street, reducing the current approved amount by one-third.

n Heard the second reading and adopted an ordinance moving city council meetings to the second Tuesday of each month, beginning with the July meeting.

n Waived the local building permit fees for a Habitat for Humanity home.

Hannon said he felt the fee shouldn't be waived but instead the organization should come ask for a donation. The fee was estimated to be $500.

Alderman Dave Aune said he believes the fee should be waived, as it has been in the past. Tucker agreed that it didn't make any sense to waive the fee then have Habitat come in and ask for a $500 donation.

n Denied Hospice of the Red River Valley of Detroit Lakes' request to waive the rental fee on the Pavilion.

n Gave preliminary approval to Becker County to construct a parking facility in the Washington Square Mall parking lot.