Time finally ran out on the 2004 conditional use permit (CUP) May Township issued to the Arcola Mills historic property. 

After 16 years of repeated attempts to work with the Arcola Mills Foundation to remove unsafe buildings from the property, the May Board voted at their Nov. 6 meeting to rescind the CUP to operate the site for public or private events. 

Three of the Foundation’s board members attended the meeting to report on progress the new board had made, both in preventing access to the dangerous buildings and in demolition. One building has already been removed.

Board member Fitzie Heimdahl said they were waiting for a bid from Better Futures MN for disassembly and recycling of materials from three non-historic cabins, asbestos abatement was completed on one cabin, and a demolition permit was secured for one cabin. Funds are in hand to pull three more permits, but the group still needs to fundraise for the cost of the work. 

A fourth cabin presents a greater challenge. The group met with a state archeologist to discuss ways to preserve the foundation and chimney of the former lumber mill building while the newer Mill Cabin built on top of it is removed. The board will seek a state grant to pay for that more complicated preservation.

Heimdahl explained that rescinding the conditional use permit would mean the site could not be used to raise funds needed for the demolition. The site is now closed for winter, but they intend to open again in April 2021. 

The supervisors asked if they thought they would have the work completed by April 1. Heimdahl said their goal was to have three cabins removed but the Mill Cabin would still be there.  

The supervisors commended the new board for their efforts to address the long-standing problem. They discussed rescinding the CUP as of April 1, 2021, if removal of three of four cabins was not completed, but in light of the many hours of supervisors’ time already spent on this problem, they ultimately voted to rescind the CUP immediately. 

Supervisor John Pazlar told the Arcola Mills board members if they had substantially completed the work by March or April of next year, the Supervisors would work with them to create a new CUP to get them back in business. 

Dog Kennnels

Supervisors reviewed changes proposed for the kennel ordinance and raised two concerns.

The revised ordinance provides a kennel owner 10-days notice before a revocation hearing at a Board of Supervisors meeting. If a serious violation occurred, would the Board wait a month or more before a hearing? Chairman Voedisch said no, they would call a special board meeting. 

Supervisor Pazlar was concerned about the mix of personal and quasi-commercial uses (personal pets and foster or visiting dogs) allowed in a private kennel on a 2.5-acre property. He noted that barking dogs is a very common complaint and with a reduced lot size, it could increase the problem.  He believed 5 acres would provide a better buffer. 

The Supervisors decided to further change the proposed ordinance to allow only personal dogs and to eliminate any quasi-commercial uses on 2.5-acre properties. Such uses would be allowed on a 5-acre property. The ordinance language will now go to the planning commission for review. 

Violations and Complaints

Township attorney Dave Snyder reported on the failure of the owner of a dangerous dog to live up to the terms of a legal agreement to make restitution to the owner of livestock killed by the dog, as well as to pay hearing fees to the township. In the meantime, one of the owner’s dogs again escaped the property and was in custody of animal control. The dog will remain impounded until the owners meet their legal obligation as well as pay daily boarding fees. If the owners do not reclaim the dog it will go to a foster-based rescue organization for dangerous dogs. 

The owner of a property on 177th St. was back before the supervisors to provide evidence that he had purchased additional property across the street in order to bring his property into compliance with town codes. Unfortunately, the newly acquired property adjoins his property at only one corner and the township lawyer was unsure if one point of tangency was sufficient to call it adjoining and to allow the properties to be legally combined. More research was needed. 

A property owner on Kirby St. had partially addressed a signage and grading violation. The township is waiting for evidence of a county permit. 

An inquiry was made about another property on Kirby St. where a private road is located in the public right of way. A supervisor will visit the property to determine if a road agreement was put in place when the subdivision was created 40 years ago.

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