Troubled Campground Loses Operation License
Hidden Valley Campground in Welch, Minn., is no longer licensed to operate.
The Goodhue County Board voted Tuesday morning (Nov. 15) to revoke owner Cory Axelson’s conditional-use permit based upon lack of compliance with several facets of the county zoning ordinance. Commissioner Richard Samuelson was absent for the vote, but it passed unanimously 4-0, the Red Wing Republican Eagle reported.
Goodhue County Land-use Management staff documented observations at Hidden Valley Campground during the 2011 camping season and said it generally “appeared to be in a significant state of disrepair and disruption.”
Included in the list of non-compliance issues staff compiled in regards to the facility were failure to obtain building permits for structures, failure to maintain 150-foot setbacks for new structures, failure to properly manage refuse and failure to maintain a register of the occupants at each campsite.
County staff also discovered that the campground was not complying with campground licensing standards set by the Minnesota Department of Health and wastewater system permitting requirements set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Owner Willing to Correct Shortfalls
Dan Schleck, attorney representing Hidden Valley Campground, said campground owner Cory Axelson is willing to commit to a schedule for making necessary changes Hidden Valley.
“Our intention is to try to work with the county to address the issues of concern,” Schleck said.
Schleck also asked commissioners to consider tabling the issue to their January meeting, stating that if no further work was done on the campground by that time, the Minnesota Department of Health wouldn’t renew Axelson’s license and the campground wouldn’t be allowed to operate next season anyway.
But Axelson’s neglect to make changes when non-compliance issues were recognized a few years ago led commissioners to doubt he’d jump right into renovations this time around.
“We had a plan for 2009. And now all of a sudden we have a plan for 2012,” Commissioner Ron Allen said. “We need to (revoke the license) now.”
“I guess I don’t understand the sense of urgency,” Schleck responded, reminding commissioners that the campground is already closed for the season and wouldn’t be reopening until next year.
The County Board decided it didn’t want to give Axelson more time to comply and then see no progress again in the future.
“We’re just saying, the practices of the past are no longer tolerated,” Rechtzigel said.
Still, the license revocation doesn’t mean Hidden Valley Campground regulars are out of luck for 2012.
Axelson can take the next several months to bring his campground into compliance and ask the county for a new permit before the next camping season commences.
“He would be able to apply and start the process all over,” Goodhue County Land-use Management Director Lisa Hanni explained.