Dassel approves permit for assisted living facility

March 24, 2008

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

The Dassel City Council welcomed Roz Ewald’s assisted living facility to Dassel last Monday after it voted 4-1 to approve its conditional use permit.

Council Member Pat Haapala cast the only dissenting vote to the proposal to have a $3.5 million, 48-unit assisted living facility in a commercial zone.

Ewald, owner and operator of Cedar Crest in Hutchinson, said she wanted the 24-hour customized living facility at the intersection of Highways 12 and 15 because of the visibility of the site, and because the big trucks and semis, that will supply the building, won’t disturb residential areas.

Because the property in the northwest corner of the intersection is in a commercial zone, the permit had three conditions. First, the facility needed to be screened or separated from the commercial activity in the zone. Second, the owner of the property cannot complain about the commercial activity around it, according to a covenant attached to the property’s records. Third, its hotel/motel license must be maintained.

Before the council voted to approve the permit, however, it changed the third condition to maintaining the facility’s licenses.

Commissioner Bob Wilde said he chose to approve the permit because the 48-unit facility was too large for a residential area. The proposed facility is even larger than the Lakeside Health Care Center, Wilde said.

Also, property owners in the area of the intersection were in favor of the proposal, while some residents in Martin Estates, a residential area, told Wilde they didn’t want it in their neighborhood, he added.

Council Member Bob Lalone said he received only positive telephone calls from city residents about the proposal.

In other zoning business, city attorney Andy MacArthur of Couri, MacArthur and Ruppe of St. Michael, told the council the city’s zoning ordinances were too big and too subjective. That contributed to the difficulty in deciding how to handle Ewald’s proposal for an assisted living facility. The planning and zoning commission was split on whether to approve Ewald’s proposal in January, and forwarded the decision to the council without a recommendation.

City Administrator Myles McGrath said Dassel’s ordinances were based on a model the city received 20 to 25 years ago from the League of Minnesota Cities.

MacArthur said he would bring in some simpler, more streamlined zoning ordinances from other cities for the council to consider. If the council decides to make changes, they can be done all at once in one hearing, he said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the council:

• accepted Council Member Al Dunn’s resignation. He is no longer living in Dassel. His position on the city council is up for election in November. The council decided to appoint someone to fill the position in the meantime.

• heard a proposal from Wilde to consider putting a skate park next to the railroad tracks downtown. In February, the council was investigating whether to have a skate park near the horseshoe pits.

Wilde said the City of Granite Falls successfully obtained railroad land by eminent domain for a public purpose. Wilde and Lalone will form a sub-committee to check out skate park options.

• decided to have a city-wide clean-up day either the third weekend in April or the second weekend in May, in time for graduation. The curbside pick-up will cost the city $1,500 to $1,800 from Waste Management of Winsted. McGrath said it will take about nine hours.

Appliance pick-up will be coordinated with Cokato’s appliance pick-up day. It will not include electronics, such as computer monitors or printers, however.

• listened to a proposal from Larry Oberg that a steak and seafood supper club, serving wine with dinner, and including a health bar, is planned for Dassel. The supper club does not have a location yet. The developer doesn’t want the restaurant to be larger than 5,000 square feet so he doesn’t have to install a sprinkler system, Oberg said.

Also, the restaurant won’t open until 4 p.m. It won’t compete with existing restaurants serving breakfast, he said.

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