Welch-area campground remains closedHidden Valley Campground officials are working on a short-term fix to open at least part of their business this season.
By: Jen Cullen, The Republican Eagle
Hidden Valley Campground officials are working on a short-term fix to open at least part of their business this season.
The Welch-area campground's annual license was not renewed after Goodhue County officials found owners expanded into some areas not part of the most recent campground footprint.
Campground owner Cory Axelson must upgrade the business' entire septic system - an issue with county officials for several years - before the license will be reissued.
In the mean time, county officials told Axelson he can install part of the new septic system to serve as temporary holding tanks.
The section of the campground appropriately served by the tanks would be allowed to open and operate this year.
"We're not saying do part of it and we'll be satisfied," said Stephen Betcher, Goodhue County attorney. "We're saying start here and we'll work with you."
The campground has run into compliance issues over the past several years. Last August, public health officials identified several problems with how garbage and recycling was handled, as well as hazardous waste and sewage disposal.
According to the 2008 inspection report, sewage was pumped directly onto the ground and Axelson lacked several necessary licenses and permits.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is reviewing a two-tiered plan to install a new collecting facility and septic system at the campground.
The PCA has the authority to permit systems as large the one being proposed for Hidden Valley.
"We are trying to first of all protect the public health," Betcher said.
County staff vowed to keep on top of Axelson to make sure he complies with county and state requirements.
Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said preserving residents' property rights is important but not at the cost of public health.
"I don't want us to get to the point where we're so overly cooperative that we're endangering the neighbors," he said. "I don't see how we can allow a non-compliant operation in a flood plain continue to go non-compliant."
Commissioner Ron Allen said he has received numerous complaints about the campground, which sits along the Cannon River.
"I want to make sure if we grant him a license that we hold him accountable," Allen said.
The campground covers 300 acres and provides tubing down the river along with 200 campsites.
Commissioner Richard Samuelson recently toured the site and talked with Axelson.
Samuelson said he's confident the proper work will be completed at Hidden Valley.
"I do believe that he is in good faith and will move forward," Samuelson said. "I think he will get the job done."