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Board approves county's first vineyard, winery

Becker County will soon have its first "farm winery."

The County Board of Commissioners put its stamp of approval on a conditional use permit Tuesday that will allow Michael Bullock to establish a vineyard and farm winery on his property in Richwood Township.

But Bullock's request did not come without opposition; several residents of the area surrounding Bullock's property appeared at both the Nov. 20 hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission, and Tuesday's county board meeting.

"Our biggest concern is that we moved out to the country to try to get away from the noise," said one resident who spoke at Tuesday's meeting.

They were concerned about the possibility of loud music and liquor being served at the establishment; Bullock said he had shelved the idea of live entertainment at the request of the planning and zoning commission. In fact, the commission gave its recommendation of approval for the permit with a stipulation that there be "no entertainment on the premises."

The commissioners upheld that stipulation, with a couple of additional conditions imposed at Tuesday's meeting.

The conditions, as put forth in an amendment by Commissioner Barry Nelson, were that no additional lighting be placed in the parking area, and that Bullock must present a plan for handling stormwater runoff from the parking area into the lake below.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

n Denied an after-the-fact conditional use permit for a retaining wall constructed on Greg Hapka's property in Lke UEunice Township (on Lake Eunice). The planning and zoning commission had previously recommended denial of the permit, based on the fact that the existing retaining wall does not meet the criteria of the Becker County Zoning Ordinance.

n Approved a conditional use permit for a gravel mining operation in Cormorant Township, operated by Contractor's Leasing.

n Approved a site plan for a 46-unit RV campground on Eagle Lake in Burlington Township. The Minnesota Court of Appeals had upheld the original conditional use permit for the property owned by Bruce and Barb Jacobs, but remanded the site plan back to the Becker County Planning Commission for approval.

n Approved a one-year contract with Lake Runners Trail Association for snowmobile trail grooming operations on the Lake Park-Cormorant Lakes snowmobile trails, at the same rate and under the same terms as the 2006-07 contract. That contract was for $13.45 per mile, plus a fuel clause adjustment.

n Approved a 33-foot roadway easement across tax-forfeited land in section 5 of Forest Township, on Dr. Wallace Road, as recommended by the Natural Resources Management Committee.

n Approved a bid from PRT, Inc., of Ontario, Canada, for seedling production in the spring of 2009. The bid of $29,160 was for 225,000 single-flush seedlings.

n Approved $848 in total tax abatements for four properties in Eagle View and Erie townships.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454