PR Planning Commish backs 10 zoning requests

Changing the parcels from R-1 to R-2 allows existing and future twin home developments to form a coherent neighborhood.

Developer Barry Munson answered questions Monday before the Park Rapids Planning Commission about his plan to split three lots and build twin homes in the Hockings Acres addition. The commission held a separate hearing about Munson's zoning request for each property. (Robin Fish/Enterprise)

The Park Rapids Planning Commission recommended Monday that the city council approve requests to rezone 10 parcels from R-1 (single family residential) to R-2 (single, two-family and townhouse residential).

Three of the requests, requiring three separate public hearings, came from developer Barry Munson, who said he plans to split the three parcels and build twin homes on them. The parcels run down the east side of Maple Ave. southward from Balsam Lane, straddling Walnut Lane.

City Planner Andrew Mack explained that twin homes are two single-family homes separated by a common wall, with a property boundary running along the common wall.
Mack noted that the parcels are large enough to allow Munson to split them and build twin homes in an R-2 district without seeking a variance, and that a neighbor down the street has also expressed interest in converting his property into twin homes.

During one of the Munson hearings, neighboring resident Bill Buggert asked that Munson consider digging settling basins on his property, to offset the added impervious surfaces and mitigate water runoff issues in the neighborhood.

Munson said he believes there is room on the parcels for settling basins, which would also benefit future occupants of the twin homes. He noted the basins would have to be stepped back from an existing culvert, and tree plantings would have to be kept clear.


Mack said that although a condition cannot be required at the rezoning stage, he thought the city engineer would be open to offering design advice for the drainage features.

Another neighbor, Betty Neiman, asked whether Munson meant a two-story structure when he spoke of building townhouses; Munson said he meant to say single-story twin homes.

Mack presented a group of similar zoning requests for a group of seven adjoining parcels in the same neighborhood – running along Spruce Lane, Oak Boulevard and Balsam Lane.

In his staff report, Mack said some of these properties already have twin homes on them as legal non-conforming uses in the R-1 district, noting that zoning amendments enacted since they were built have put restrictions on their use.

Mack said moving the parcels as a group to R-2 would reflect the way the neighborhood has already developed, make it more consistent with Munson’s planned project, and allow the owners to make additions without seeking a zoning variance.

Planning commissioners made no objection to the staff-recommended findings of fact, including a statement saying that the neighborhood “has suffered from the effects of the housing recession” and that Munson’s development “will provide the opportunity to pay off assessments from city-installed water and sewer infrastructure that were idled during tax forfeiture from the original developer.”

In four separate motions, the planning commission unanimously recommended that the city council approve the rezoning of all 10 parcels.

EV readiness

The planning commission also recommended city council approval of an update to the city’s comprehensive plan, incorporating a chapter about electrical vehicle (EV) readiness.


Planning intern Adam Herberg, who prepared the chapter, presented a draft amended in response to the commission’s feedback at its July 27 meeting.

Commission member Robb Swanson particularly praised Herberg for his revision of the previous draft’s language from “requiring” to “encouraging” businesses to add EV charging infrastructure when improving parking lots with 40 or more spaces.

“Thank you for hearing us,” said Swanson.

Liz Stone, the city council representative on the commission, moved to recommend adoption of the plan update, and the motion passed unanimously.

Of the 10 parcels the Park Rapids Planning Commission is recommending the city council to rezone from R-1 to R-2, the three angling south along Maple Ave. were requested by developer Barry Munson. (Hubbard County GIS map, courtesy of the City of Park Rapids)

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