12/27/2012 11:12:00 AM Stanton board reaffirms zoning amendment
by Paul Martin
Neighbors of an RV campground proposed for Scout Ridge Road, west of the Goodhue County Park, voiced harsh criticism of the Stanton Township Board at their December 18 meeting.
Dave Lorentz is applying to develop a 60-70 site campground on his property, which was formerly the location of the Spring Garden Nursery. The nursery moved temporarily to the south end of Cannon Falls last spring. There would be several needed buildings, but no pool.
Thirty-two residents in the area signed a petition against the development. The proposal itself has not been discussed at the township board level, but the board took the first step of approving a zoning amendment to the town ordinance at its November meeting. Chair Vince Cockriel and John Miller voted in favor, Bob Benson against.
"Serve the Citizens or be Removed"
Ken Burns spoke for the protestors. He reminded the board that they serve the citizens, not the other way round. "Last month's proceedings were misleading and possibly illegal," he said. "Notice of the public hearing was sent only to adjoining property owners. Since it might affect all zoning in the R-1 zone, notice should have gone to all residents. With proper notice, there could have been a proper public hearing, and a proper ordinance that protected all parties. This would have helped prevent lawsuits."
Linda Henderson asked pointedly, "Where was the consultation with residents in your decision? Where are the 'whereases' in your motion? What need of the residents are you addressing?"
Dave Pederson said, "I don't understand why you passed the new ordinance although four out of five members of the PAC (Planning Advisory Commission) had voted against it." All demanded that the board rescind their decision, or resign, or face removal.
Town Lawyer: Procedure was Followed Properly
Cockriel briefly recessed the meeting, and spoke privately with Burns to discuss a letter he had received from township lawyer Troy Gilchrist. He then quoted from the letter, which affirmed that procedure was followed properly, and there was no ground to challenge the decision. Gilchrist did say that the line between the zone change and the individual application was 'blurred' in the meeting.
Benson then made a motion to rescind the zoning change, saying "there is no citizen of the township that wants it." The motion failed for want of a second.
Cockriel and Miller did not attempt to revisit their arguments in favor of the change. Cockriel did note that the performance standards were adopted in full from the Goodhue County ordinance. He then moved formally to adopt the revised ordinance. The same 2 to 1 vote resulted. Since the ordinance does not come into force until legally posted, no further action on the Lorentz' proposal can be taken until the New Year.
In other planning action, the board approved both the needed variance and the building permit for George Modrak to build a private riding arena on his property at 32643 County 24 Blvd. The arena will be 60x96 feet, and will largely be shielded from the road. Modrak agreed with Cockriel that access to the road makes it unsuitable for commercial use, and confirmed that it will be purely for family use.
Property Tax Revenue Received
Treasurer Jennifer Ritzman reported Receipts of $111,025.17 against disbursements of $8,944.90. Liquid cash is now $330,266.92. Investments remain at $63,658.49.
Property tax money had been received from the county on November 30, she said. Out of a $215,000 levy, about $211,000 has been received, with a little more to come in during January. The road and bridge fund is doing well because of favorable weather. Clerk Cheryle Peters reported that $1,167.43 of the FEMA request related to damage from the June 14 flooding is expected shortly from the state. The money direct from FEMA came in during the fall.
Cell Tower Upgrades
Peters read a letter from the county asking the township's agreement to waive their approval when cell towers are upgraded by adding antennae or micro dishes. Since little or no zoning review is needed, but only building code review and permit, several townships have agreed to let the county handle such requests. The board refused the request, on grounds that such changes can result in big changes to the towers and landscape. Besides, the township wants its fees for approval. The letter was referred to the PAC, after a motion was passed 3 to 0 that all such requests should come through the Township.
Peters and Ritzman thanked Dave Garner for the donation of nearly new laptops for their use. Filing for township office will run from January 1 to 15. The Board of Audit will meet on January 22. A resolution to form an Absentee Ballot Board, as required by the state, was approved 3 to 0.