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Planning commission issues permit for Nevis FireFly event barn

FireFly event barn owners Brent and Lindsey Nicklason have been issued a conditional use permit. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

     The former dairy barn is being converted to an event barn with seasonal use, said owner Brent Nicklason.

     He and wife Lindsey want to book weddings in the structure on the south side of Highway 34 as you enter Nevis from the west.

     The building will hold 300 and the couple plans on using it for weddings, reunions, graduations and other milestone events.

     The Planning Commission had concerns about parking lot lighting, traffic and noise.

     Nicklason said he doesn’t plan outdoor concerts and is across the highway from Lake Belle Taine. He said he’s been planting trees to isolate his property from the neighbors.

     “My priorities now are to satisfy the fire code,” he told the board. “It’s not that big (of) a place. There will be no Moondance Jam,” he said, referring to the Walker festival that attracts tens of thousands.

     Two neighbors expressed some concerns, one about adequate bathroom space and one about “noise, traffic, theft and vandalism” to the neighborhood, especially with guests consuming alcohol.

     “Noise has been one of my big concerns,” said board member Ken Grob.

     But Nicklason said music in the afternoons and evenings was a reasonable use of the property, which is not directly on the lake.

     “We don’t need an ongoing battle between you and the neighbors,” Grob said.

     Nicklason said he and his wife would work with nearby residents to assuage their concerns.

     Many Nevis residents voiced approval of the facility at last weekend’s Muskie Days Festival.

     Board member Greg Larson said with Highway 34 running between FireFly and the lake “there is already a sound barrier” for noise or music.

     Grob was trying to get “all sound-generating activities” restricted to indoors.

     Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf said noise complaints are “difficult to enforce” without noise-measuring equipment. His office recommended approval of the request if all ordinances were complied with.

     With an 11 p.m. curfew on music, there shouldn’t be complaints, Nicklason noted. The issue moves to the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners for their approval.

     In other business the Planning Commission:

  •  Gave the thumbs up to an expansion of Pine Cone Lodge on Big Sand Lake.

     Jeff and Bonnie Brand have been restoring the resort into a swank getaway. The couple has purchased more land and are expanding on Big Sand Lake and neighboring Loon Lake. Their resort is near Zorbaz pizzeria on Grouse Road.

     “They make improvements high class,” said Ev Duthoy, whose house will be part of the expansion effort.

     “We have been good stewards of the shoreline,” Bonnie Brand told the board.

     The Planning Commission quibbled over docks, wanting one for environmental reasons and shoreline interruption, but Bonnie Brand convinced board members more docks would be safer.

     Half of the newly acquired shoreline will be kept natural vegetation. The Planning Commission, subject to county board approval, granted an amendment to the original Conditional Use Permit to expand.

     The couple hosted a grand opening in May 2013 for a retreat home they refurbished to house large groups.

  • Gave the approval of a preliminary plat of Sky Manor Aero Estates 2nd Addition on Island Lake.

     Mark Hobson sought to re-subdivide three tracts into five platted lots.

     The flying community north of Park Rapids is expanding, Hobson said.

     Two residents objected, saying the grass airstrip might become too congested and unsafe.

     But Hobson pointed out that covenants restrict the size of aircraft in the community and the lots meet state setback laws.

     Three members of the community urged approval to attract more pilots.

     “We have done nothing close to needing FAA regulations,” Eric Ramlo said. “It’s an aircraft owners community, a quiet, private use airport.”

     “Issues pertaining to the runway use are not germane to the Planning Commission’s role,” Buitenwerf said.

     “Air safety is not something we look at,” member Char Christensen said early on in the discussion.

     The board granted the request, which again is subject to county board approval.

     Then, meeting as the Board of Adjustment, without Larson, the members continued what was to become a marathon session.

     That report will be published in Wednesday’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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