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Oops! DL accidentally approves rezoning

Tuesday evening was filled with apologies.

On the agenda for the Detroit Lakes City Council was the second reading and adoption of an ordinance rezoning the TS Recreational land, located along Highway 10 East, from one and two family residential to auto oriented business.

City hall was filled with East Shore Drive and area residents upset about the rezone and the alleged salvage yard TS Recreational's land has become.

To audience surprise, the rezoning of the area had become a moot point by that evening. In fact, it was to the mayor and council's surprise earlier that day as well.

Assistant City Attorney Charles Ramstad said TS Recreational owner Todd Simison had filed an application for the rezone on Oct. 5. A 60-day waiting period is attached to the request. If the request isn't acted on in that time, the land is automatically rezoned.

The 60 days was up Dec. 4.

Since there was now nothing the city could do about the rezone, Ramstad said the next question was if the activities at TS Recreational comply with the auto oriented zoning.

"It's still an issue that needs to be addressed by the council," he said.

The next letdown was brought to the audience's attention by Jim Sinclair, a retired attorney, who had Ramstad admit that the 60-day law has been in place for 10 years.

"This is a junk yard, that is what he's doing there," Sinclair said about TS Recreational. "Put pearls and lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig."

"Shame on all of us in this room for not knowing this is a moot point," Sharon Josephson said of the 60-day rule.

She also asked the council for an explanation into what the long-term plan is for that area along Highway 10.

"We were totally confused and now we are even more," she said.

Ardys Hanson said she came to the city and talked with Community Developer Director Larry Remmen and City Administrator Rich Grabow before the 60 days was up and that they should have told her about the rule.

"I believe I may have been deceived by my local government, and Todd (Simison) has been too," she said. "I am so disappointed in the city government ... What is government of the people? It was not enforced here."

The council room was full of people unhappy about TS Recreational, and some 25 or 30 people had also attended a community development committee meeting Monday to voice concern about the business.

After apologizing to the audience, Mayor Larry Buboltz proposed four motions to take care of the situation.

First, he asked that the Community Development Committee develop a protocol for handling requests for rezoning so this won't happen again.

"We're not happy (about what happened) so it won't happen again," he said.

Second, he requested an investigation be done into the TS Recreational business to see if it complies with the auto oriented district, or whether it's a salvage yard, which would require zoning for industry.

He asked a report be made to the city council at the Feb. 13 meeting.

"I want an honest investigation and finding of facts," he said.

Those appointed to the investigation committee include the city council, the city attorney, Grabow and two citizens, yet to be named.

Third, he asked the council to enforce Simison's landscaping plans for the first phase of his business by May 31.

Fourth, he asked that the landscaping plan for the second phase of the business be approved by the council.

"This should never have happened," Alderman Ron Zeman said. "These people deserve representation not just from four people (of their ward and at large) but from all of us here (on the council)."

"I apologize to these people," Alderman Leonard Heltemes added.

"I think the council would join in that. No one feels good about this," Buboltz said. "It was an oversight, and I apologize."