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Contentious CUPs get through Park Rapids City Council

The council approved conditional use permits for an offices-to-apartments conversion, a neighborhood bar and a sales and auction lot.

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Park Rapids City Hall
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo
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The Park Rapids City Council on Tuesday approved three requests for conditional use permits (CUP), two of which were back for a second try.

1012 Birch St.

Property owner Gregory Parsons had applied to relocate his bar, One More Club, from 1400 1st St. E. (formerly Lori Lea Lanes & Lounge) to a commercial property on 1012 Birch St., zoned B-1 highway business.

City Planner Ben Oleson reported that Parsons reapplied for a CUP to operate the bar with 22 seats after a previous application for a 42-seater was declined.

There was considerable council discussion about the parking plan, enforcement of parking rules and nuisance issues, the difference between seating and occupancy and whether opinion should be a basis for a decision.

Council member Liz Stone, who sits on the planning commission, pointed out that the same issues would apply anywhere in the city.

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Council member Tom Conway said he struggled with the bar’s compatibility with the character of the neighborhood.

Parsons said all the bars in town have residential areas around them, including One More Club’s current location. In six years, he said, there have been no complaints about the bar.

“What makes this group of people special?” he asked. “I should be treated just as fairly as any other business in this town.”

Resident Steve Peloquin, invited to comment, argued that other bars in the city have more of a buffer between them and adjacent residences. He noted that the streets in the neighborhood are “minimally designed,” concluding the requested use does not compare to other bars in town.

Conway made a motion to decline Parsons’ CUP. Without a second, the motion failed.

Stone made a motion to approve the CUP. It passed 3-1 with Conway opposed.

18164 169th Ave.

Property owner Nathan Turnquist had applied to operate an outdoor retail sales and auction lot with a shouse (a single family dwelling combined with a commercial building) on a 5.71-acre parcel at the southeast corner of State Hwy. 34 and 169th Avenue, opposite County Road 4.

The council had previously asked the planning commission to reconsider the application, with council members desiring phased paving of the lot instead of the proposed crushed asphalt surfacing.

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Oleson explained that Turnquist had agreed to a three-phase paving plan, including a 50-by-200-foot vehicle display area at the north end of the property to be paved before the business opens, a 20-by-96-foot apron in front of the shouse to be added within 14 months and a commitment to replace the remaining crushed asphalt with pavement as funds allow.

Shannon Jacob, who has a used vehicle lot on a 1.69-acre parcel across 169th Ave. from the Turnquist property, objected to the way his property was mentioned during discussions of the CUP.

Jacob said he gave no pushback when required to pave 10% of his lot, and mentioned other developers who cooperated with city policy with no complaint of financial hardship. He contradicted Turnquist’s previous claim about banks not loaning money for paving, saying all you need is collateral, and ridiculed complaining about $10,000 in paving while planning a $500,000 building.

Turnquist replied that his concern isn’t financial hardship but city code, which allows crushed asphalt on lots with no curb and gutter. He said Jacob could have fought the city’s demand to pave 10% of his lot.

Turnquist said he is looking at $35,000 in paving, but he can do it. He said he plans for his property to look good and for consignment items on unpaved areas to sell fast.

“I intend on paving pretty much all of that property,” he said. “I just don’t want to be forced into it, because that’s a lot of money coming out of pocket.”

Mayor Ryan Leckner asked about reports that Turnquist had buried a holding tank on the property. City Administrator Angel Weasner said the tank was buried for research purposes and removed.

Stone made a motion to approve Turnquist’s CUP, which passed 3-0. Leckner abstained because he owns a similar type of business.

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602 1st St. E.

Developer Bruce Bolton with Golden Ratio, Inc., had requested a CUP to convert the upper level of a split-level office building at 602 1st St. E. into two two-bedroom apartments. The building is owned by Grover Lehrke Co. LLC.

At Bolton’s request, Oleson clarified the first of four conditions recommended by the city planning commission, requiring separate entrances to the living space from that used to access the businesses.

Oleson said he believed that when they approved this, the planning commission understood that the current lobby will be sufficient, provided that the stairs up to the private residences are clearly marked as not open to the public. Stone agreed.

Stone made a motion to approve the CUP, which passed 4-0, absent council member Erika Randall.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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