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Board of Adjustment looks into park model camper issue

Fri, Jul 25th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - David Swanson of Cannon Falls came before the Fillmore County Board of Adjustment at their Thursday, July 24 meeting to ask the board for a reversal of a Zoning Administrator's decision not to allow Swanson to have a park model style camper at Eagle Cliff campground east of Lanesboro.

Fillmore County Zoning Administrator Norm Craig had ruled that Swanson was in violation of the zoning ordinance that stipulates that recreational vehicles must be licensed and road-worthy and not require a special permit to be hauled in.

Swanson argued that he bought the park model camper in November 2007 after discussing with campground owners his intentions of replacing his other camper in the campground. The new camper was delivered and set up at Eagle Cliff in May.

Swanson said that once he heard he was in violation of the ordinance, he tried to get out of the purchase agreement for the new camper and was told that he would lose in excess of $15,000 in depreciation as the camper would now be considered "used".

Swanson asked the board to overrule Craig's decision and allow his park model camper to be "grandfathered" in, as he purchased the vehicle before the county changed it's ordinance last winter.

County Commissioner Chuck Amunrud spoke at the hearing, saying he had concerns about the request. Amunrud said he visited the campground and looked at the camper and found that it did not have a license so that it could be moved in an emergency. He also found that the camper was actually a titled mobile home, which is typically taxed differently than a recreational vehicle. A RV has an annual license renewal fee, while a mobile home falls under county property taxes.

"Do we want mobile homes in our campgrounds?" Amunrud asked the board. "If so, then they need to be taxed differently."

Amunrud recommended that the board table the matter until they could get legal advice before making a decision.

Pilot Mound Supervisor Vern Crowson spoke against Swanson's request, telling the board that amendments to the campground provisions of the ordinance were made with the intent to minimize exceptions.

"The park model is a step away from this [exceptions]," Crowson said. "A park model camper is not camping."

The board of adjustment, made up of Jim Keune, Steve Duxbury and Brad Erickson tabled the item until their August meeting.

Planning Commission

Norm Craig told the Fillmore County Planning Commission that there is a lot of activity taking place in developing wind energy in western Fillmore County.

"You have enXco developing in Harmony Township, EcoEnergy in the Bristol area and NationalWind in York," Craig said, as a prelude to the commission approving conditional use permits for two meteorological testing towers.

• EcoEnergy will build a 270 feet tower on land owned by Sean Dols in Section 4 of Bristol Township.

• Fillmore Wind LLC and Wolf Wind Development will build a 166 foot testing tower to gather information for a possible 20 MW wind project. The tower will be on land owned by Larry Tammel in Section 8 of Bristol Township.

Sand Pit

The commission approved conditional use permits for a sand pit for John Rein in Section 35 of Holt Township and for Ron Scheevel in Section 16 of Carimona Township.

Both applications for CUPs will be sent on to the county board for final approval.


John Ackerman, a spelunker from Farmington requested that the commission grant him a conditional use permit to create a cemetery in a cave on his property in Section 8 of Spring Valley Township. State law allows private citizens to create their own cemetery.

Ackerman had two acres of the 500 acres he owns surveyed for the site.

Carimona Township supervisor Arlynn Hovey inquired how the underground cemetery would be set up.

"We have underground rivers around here and I would hate to see them [caskets] popping up in a field somewhere," Hovey said, generating a few laughs from those in attendance.

Ackerman assured Hovey, as well as the commission, that burial would be similar to that done in a normal cemetery, with a vault that is secured to the bedrock.

When asked how many tombs would be in the cemetery, Ackerman replied, "One, me."

All of the applications for a conditional use permit will be sent on to the county board for final approval.

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