By Jennifer Gallus
Despite being notified that Howard Lake’s Planning Commission recommended not moving forward with an approval for modifications to a conditional use permit, the city council went ahead and approved the request during Tuesday’s meeting.
The request was made by David Purifoy, co-owner of VP Real Estate of Kansas which has a purchase agreement to buy Codger’s Cove Campground.
Purifoy is requesting to amend the site plan and conditional use permit at Codger’s Cove to include: playground clarification, horseshoes and shuffleboard, removal of satellite restroom and replaced with a garden area, clarification of pool area, clarification of boat and trailer storage spaces, deck added to game room, and conversion from rental camping sites to private ownership.
Both Vern Kleve and Shelly Reddemann of the planning commission stated during a public hearing about the matter that the commission did not receive an adequate amount of information to recommend approval of those said amendments.
“We were asked to pre-approve unknowns,” Kleve said. “We did not want to blanketly approve this,” he added.
“I still think there’s too many open ends,” Reddemann said. “We had four planning and zoning board members (present at a previous meeting) and all decided to deny approval until we receive all the information.”
Those planning and zoning board members were Reddemann, Kleve, Fran Wren, and Jean Schmidt.
Three additional requests were made by Purifoy that weren’t part of the public hearing, but then later retracted, in an effort to simplify matters.
Those retracted requests were to allow an additional campground site for a second caretaker to reside year-round, waive the curb and gutter requirement for the parking lot, and the addition of height restrictions for trailers.
The city’s consulting planner, Nate Sparks, commented that if a second caretaker site were allowed, the campground would no longer meet the zoning requirement as a seasonal recreational use.
“We need to ensure that the spirit and intent of the current urban reserve designation stays intact,” Sparks said.
Discussion centered around the issue of the conversion from rented campsites to private ownership for quite some time. Many questions were posed to Purifoy about the financial logistics of private ownership.
Purifoy stated that private ownership of individual campsites is a growing trend in Minnesota, and mentioned that a campground in Cokato has recently switched to such ownership allowances.
If the campsites were allowed to be privately owned, the owners would be obligated to pay property taxes, even though the campground would maintain only seasonal residency.
The DNR is currently reviewing the possible ownership conversion, and if the DNR denies it, then the change cannot take place.
“The DNR is reviewing this change and whether or not it requires the site plan to be amended per the conversion rules,” Sparks noted.
“The site is located in the urban reserve district, which is intended to hold land for future orderly development. City officials should consider whether the conversion to private ownership of lots would make the future orderly development of this property inherently more difficult,” Sparks added.
Reddemann receives citizens award
Past longtime councilman Shelly Reddemann received a citizens award for his dedication to the city and for his continued volunteer work at Memorial Park.
“I’ve always enjoyed the parks,” Reddemann said.
Police Department gets Safe and Sober grant
The Howard Lake Police Department recently received a $20,000 grant to again participate in the Safe and Sober Communities program.
“We are a firm believer in the program. This year we’re partnered with Meeker County, Eden Valley Police Department, and Watkins PD,” Police Chief Dan Lang explained.
The partnership will allow for the coverage of a 70-mile-stretch of the Highway 12 corridor.
Lang reassured the council that each agency stays within its own jurisdiction.
Election judges named
Election judges for the Sept. 9 primary election have been appointed and are Gene Gilbert (head election judge), Pat Diers, Ron Miller, Tom Miller, Wanda Werner, Jean Schmidt, Dawn Horst, and Ruth Licht.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved a competitive negotiated sale of $575,000 in general obligation tax increment refunding bonds.
The city is considering refunding the TIF-10 bonds to reduce the amount of interest paid over the course of the district. The proposed refunding would expedite the repayment of funds from TIF-10 to the general fund, according to the city.