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Pilot Mound residents want moratorium on campgrounds

Fri, Aug 18th, 2006
Posted in Government

PILOT MOUND - One hundred twenty eight Pilot Mound residents, more than twice the 57 people who voted in the last township election, have signed a petition calling for the township supervisors to implement an interim moratorium on campgrounds in order to give the township time to study the impact the development might have on the area.

More than 30 people were on hand when the petition was presented to the township board at their August 14 meeting. Paul LeDuc, a farmer who lives in Section 20, where a 49 site campground is being proposed, told the town board that a moratorium would allow the township to set up a committee to study the situation and make a recommendation back to the township supervisors.

LeDuc urged the town board to act before the campground application is presented to Fillmore County, which handles zoning for the township.

"Commissioner Duane Bakke told me that once it makes it to the Planning & Zoning Committee, you'll have a campground," LeDuc warned. He told the township supervisors that he would rather have two houses, or 3000 hogs nearby before a campground.

David Williams, an attorney and Preble Township Supervisor, spoke at the invitation of LeDuc about the process and responsibilities involved in implementing a moratorium.

"There are lots of issues regarding campgrounds, including density, sewage and water, noise, odors, traffic and impact on the Root River," Williams said. He provided the town board with copies of Minnesota Statutes regarding moratoriums, a sample proposal for an interim ordinance and a sample resolution setting up a study group.

"You can use Fillmore County, the DNR and MPCA as resources in making your study," Williams said.

For more than two hours, various citizens spoke about their concerns.

Gene Bergstrom, who lives between two campgrounds along the Root River east of Lanesboro told the town board that the increase of tubers have driven other users from the river, including fishermen. He urged the town board to study the matter.

Marlys Goodsell, who lives near the Moen Bridge across from the canoe launch, talked about problems she sees with greater use of the river, including trespassing and littering.

"You have to put up with things you don't like," Goodsell said about her experience living near the canoe launch. She supported a moratorium.

Rita LeDuc, who was concerned about pollution and littering, asked, "How much traffic can the river sustain? Anyone can launch [tubes and canoes] from a campground without a permit."

Kathy Strieff said that a moratorium would allow the township "time to sort things out."

"We want to know the real impact this [campground] is going to have on us that live here," Strieff said.

Despite all the pressure from the citizens supporting a moratorium, a motion from Supervisor Steve Erickson for a one year interim ordinance died for a lack of a second from supervisors Kevin Borgen and Roy Erickson.

Borgen, concerned about a potential suit from the campground developer, said that he had additional questions he wanted to discuss with the township's legal council. Town Board Chair Roy Erickson said he was reluctant to take on zoning at the township level.

"Fillmore County has always taken care of zoning for us, Erickson said. "I don't think we have the resources to do zoning ourselves."

The supervisors did pass a motion to discuss the issue again at a special meeting to be held Monday, August 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the township hall.

Should the town board fail to pass an interim ordinance on August 28, residents may choose to take matters into their own hands. Using a little used provision in the law, 20 percent of the electors could call a special town meeting where voters could pass a resolution demanding that the township board approve the interim ordinance and create an advisory planning committee.

"This issue has hit a nerve," Jane Gerhking said, remarking on the turnout of residents at the meeting. "In the past, people have been complacent. But this campground has them very concerned and more and more aware."

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