Proposed zoning for Belle Prairie annexation area presented

The proposed zoning for the suburban part of Belle Prairie Township that is being annexed by Little Falls was presented to the city council by City Attorney Peter Vogel.

As explained by Vogel, there would be three basic zonings. One would be within the Mississippi Headwaters which has its own zoning regulations.

The second zone, the attorney related, would be that area which is already pretty well developed—minus the soccer field and horse pasture. “We recognize what’s already there and say 16,000 square foot lots are alright,” he explained. “There’s maybe 10 lots there that are capable of being subdivided. What you have is what you get. Leave it at R1 and R2—single and two family homes.”

The third zone is that along Highway 371 which, except for the Nouis amusement park and LeMieur Storage, remains largely undeveloped. “With 371 moving to the east, we can see some interesting problems,” continued Vogel. “You’ve got to come up with some general guidelines for the area so that it all fits together. Perhaps there could be larger lots but then smaller lots as you get closer to the railroad tracks. County Road 76 will still be there. And, you’ve got to have some good cross streets. And people want trees. You probably won’t satisfy everybody.”

A concern expressed by Hub Zyvoloski and Kate Sobiech centered around how the zoning would affect lots that may be less than 12,000 square feet. “Maybe there aren’t even any lots that are that small, said Zyvoloski. “But, I’ve heard that there are some. I don’t want them to live with the fear that they can’t rebuild should their house burn down because their lot isn’t big enough. I would want them grandfathered in. I won’t vote for this otherwise. We’ve butted our way into that area. I want them to rest easy.”

Responding, Vogel said, “I just make the proposals. I don’t decide on them.” Council Chair Mike Doucette added, “It would be to our advantage, tax-wise, to let them rebuild.”

Plans call for a draft of the area’s zoning ordinance be made and presented at a public hearing on Aug. 18.

Also discussed at the council planning meeting was the subject of the 6 p.m. closing of the Pine Grove Park shelter and bathrooms. Confusion shrouded the subject the previous week when it was suggested residents could reserve the shelter for the already charged $50, and be charged another $25 to get the keys, allowing them to close up later than 6 p.m. Giving her thoughts, Sobiech said, “Let them use the porta potties at the zoo.” Jerry Lochner, manager of City Services, while acknowledging some may not want to pay the $50 for reserving the shelter, suggested that different locks could be made for the shelter and the bathrooms.

Eventually, Doucette said, “Charge them the $50 and the $25 deposit for the key.” Agreeing, Mayor Brian Mackinac added, “Yes. Eliminate those who want to take a chance by not reserving the shelter.”

Concluding, Lochner said, “Okay. There’s just one more month (of summer). At the first of the year, we’ll change the policy.”

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