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Board of Adjustment votes against one of its own members

Resort owner Tom Krueger, a substitute member of the Hubbard County Board of Adjustment, requested an after-the-fact variance for a property owner in his Planned Unit Development Tuesday. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

A reserve member of Hubbard County's Board of Adjustment found himself in an awkward conflict of interest Tuesday when he switched sides of the table and unsuccessfully lobbied for an after-the-fact variance at his own resort.

Tom Krueger, who substitutes for member Lou Schwindt during the winter months, owns a resort-turned PUD called Sunny Point Estates on 2nd Crow Wing Lake.

At Tuesday's monthly meeting, he removed himself from voting, but then represented a homeowner in his development that placed a large storage shed within the ordinary high water mark of the lake and without permission.

"All of you have places to put your stuff," Krueger said in introducing the issue. "I can foresee future owners wanting storage. You don't want to put a gas can in the closet."

Krueger, who identified himself as the "majority owner and association president" of the PUD, said he informed buyer Ronald Schaefer, a seasonal resident, that Schaefer would have to get his own permit or variance for the shed as part of the overall purchase agreement.

The association contemplated a standard 6-by-8 shed.

"He just showed up with a 10-by-12," Krueger told his own board. "We are all common owners but I try to keep the peace out there."

The Planned Unit Development is in the process of building a permanent storage facility, which would obviate the need for individual sheds, Krueger said.

Meanwhile, the board nixed a request to leave the shed where it was and ordered it be removed.

Neighbor Everett Langland had several objections to the shed. He said it's only two feet from the cabin and could be a potential fire hazard to the cabin.

"People have attached garages with gas cans in them," Krueger countered.

COLA member Bill Cowman praised Krueger for removing himself from voting, but expressed disappointment Krueger chose to represent the homeowners.

He suggested the Schaefers bring the issue to the board themselves.

The Hubbard County Coalition of Lake Associations had been monitoring BOA meetings and is currently heading to the Minnesota Court of Appeals in a lawsuit over a 2010 variance.

"This is the type of project that doesn't happen overnight," Cowman questioned, wondering aloud why Krueger didn't stop the shed construction.

Reserve BOA member Tim Johnson, sitting in for Arnold Christianson, said without the Schaefers present, "I have to assume what his actions are. He knew he needed a permit."

Langland, too, questioned the propriety of Krueger presenting the variance request himself.

"He had no business coming here," he said of Krueger.

When Krueger said, "All I'm asking for is temporary approval" to leave the shed until the storage building is constructed, Langland shot back, "It's awful easy to make it permanent."

"Moving it to a temporary location is not unreasonable," new board member Ken Grob said, making the motion to deny both parts of the request, which sought to leave the shed across a boundary line and within the setback.

Krueger said the Schaefers had landscaped around the building to give it a permanent feel.

"Rock landscaping is cited as a difficulty" in moving the shed, Johnson said. "It is not unique to the property. Justice is served by requiring him to move the shed."

"The landowners created the problem," Grob said, citing one factor weighing against the awarding of a variance.

A visibly disappointed Krueger got up and took his place with the rest of the board members at the table. He asked the Environmental Services Office to be the bearer of the bad tidings.

Read more BOA news in next week's Enterprise.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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