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Crow Wing County Board: Commissioners deny land use map amendment for storage rentals

Residents near Gull Lake Dam Road objected to a request to rezone nearby parcels for commercial use.

Nathan Tuomi and Mark Wiebolt petitioned to amend the county land use map, so their parcels in the First Assessment District could be used to rent out railroad car-sized storage containers.

“Crow Wing County’s comprehensive plan does encourage this type of mixed growth within the community,” Tuomi told the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Lake Allen Drive residents consider the 11 acres owned by the pair of developers to be the entrance to their neighborhood. Homeowners spoke up at the meeting to oppose the proposal.

The amendment request came before the county planning commission/board of adjustment on July 18, and they recommended to commissioners denying the request at Tuesday’s meeting.

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“We did receive 15 total written comments prior to the July meeting. The majority of those were opposed to this rezone,” Land Services Director Gary Griffin said.

The two parcels are bordered by Lake Allen Drive to the west, and Gull Lake Dam Road (or County Road 125) to the north.

“I feel it was very clear that when Nathan Tuomi and Mark Wiebolt originally platted off this development that their intent was for this to be a residential neighborhood,” said Mike Childs, a Mary Allen Lane resident.

The 10 storage containers would be located on the parcel farthest to the east, about 60 feet off of Gull Lake Dam Road and 80 feet off Lake Allen Drive.

“I find it very concerning that once all the lots were sold and all the houses were built that the original developers now decide for their own gain that they’d like to rezone a portion of this neighborhood to commercial,” Childs said. “All of the adjoining properties are zoned residential, and that is how I believe these parcels should stay.”

Tuomi and Wiebolt believe the best use for their parcels, however, is for storage units and feel it would be no more intrusive to the neighbors than, say, residential traffic if more homes were built.

“They've owned the property more than 20 years and feel that it is time to develop it,” according to county officials.

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“No matter what we do out there it’s going to change the character of the property, whether we put in homes, do a commercial development, it’s going to create traffic,” Tuomi said of Lake Allen Drive.

Dale Vanhorn, a Lake Allen Drive resident, brought his daughter to Tuesday’s county board meeting because she plays in the neighborhood -- rides her bike and skates on the road.

“We can drive up and down the (Highway) 371 corridor in either direction, and there are numerous properties that have been developed and abandoned, or undeveloped that are available for lease or sale that we can get into right now and develop,” Vanhorn said.

Vanhorn was one of eight area residents who spoke at Tuesday’s meeting during public comments against the land use map amendment request and against rezoning.

“It would also be very detrimental to our property values and our quality of life, and I think that’s the reason why so many of my neighbors are here this morning,” said Rita Ewert, a Lake Allen Drive resident.

“It is a quiet, scenic, rural, low-traffic development of approximately 25 single-family homes. Every homeowner, over almost 20 years, purchased their lot or home knowing that it was zoned rural residential and assuming it would remain that way.”

Tuomi and Wiebolt developed the Lake Allen Drive neighborhood to the south of the parcels they want rezoned. Covenants were developed for the parcels in the residential developments, but they do not include their two parcels they propose as the site for renting storage units.

“They don’t live there, we do … and I just really ask you guys (on the county board) to take into consideration our feelings,” said Michelle Hansch, a Lake Allen Drive resident.

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“If their intention is to build senior housing (later), that’s great. This is a residential area, and that’s fine, but then do that. ... There’s not one person who’s in favor of this in our neighborhood.”

Commissioner Paul Koering made a motion at the end of public comments to grant the land use map amendment request -- a motion that died without a second from another commissioner.

“I guess I just don’t agree with my (planning commission/board of adjustment) appointee Mark Haglin basing on his decision on the traffic coming out of there,” Koering said.

Commissioner Steve Barrows then made a motion to support the recommendation of the planning commission/board of adjustment to deny the developers’ request to rezone and amend the county land use map.

Commissioner Bill Brekken seconded Barrows’ motion that denied the map amendment request. Koering was the only commissioner to vote against Barrows’ motion.

081419.N.BD.NathanTuomi.JPG
Nathan Tuomi of Brainerd appeals to the Crow Wing County Board of Commissioners at its Tuesday, Aug. 13, meeting to grant his request to amend the county land use map by rezoning 11 acres from "rural residential" to "commercial district," so he can rent storage space at his First Assessment District property he co-owns near Gull Lake Dam Road and Lake Allen Drive. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write articles for the Wadena Pioneer Journal weekly newspaper owned by Forum Communications Co.
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