Hidden Valley Campground gets permit back; state license still neededThe Minnesota Court of Appeals decided Monday to reverse a decision made by the Goodhue County Board in November that revoked the conditional-use permit for Hidden Valley Campground in Welch.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
The Minnesota Court of Appeals decided Monday to reverse a decision made by the Goodhue County Board in November that revoked the conditional-use permit for Hidden Valley Campground in Welch.
The appellate court came to its conclusion by finding, “There was not substantial evidence that the campground had violated a condition of the CUP, and therefore revocation of the CUP was not justified.”
Goodhue County Land-use Management staff visited Hidden Valley Campground during the 2011 camping season and documented their observations, stating the facility “appeared to be in a significant state of disrepair and disruption.”
It was determined that the campground owned by Cory Axelson had several issues of non-compliance with the county’s zoning ordinance, including failure to properly manage refuse, failure to obtain building permits and failure to maintain 150-foot setbacks for new structures.
Health and safety concerns from the County Board also contributed to the permit revocation when commissioners discovered Axelson was having non-compliance issues with more than just the county zoning ordinance.
The campground was also failing to meet the licensing standards set by the Minnesota Department of Health and the wastewater system permitting requirements set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
“However, health and sanitation conditions were not part of the CUP, and any health and sanitation problems that the campground had were not legitimate reasons to revoke the CUP,” the appellate court decision said.
“I thought the Court of Appeals did a very thorough review of the record,” Goodhue County Attorney Stephen Betcher said. “But I don’t think they undermined the findings the board made about the concerns they found out there at the campground.”
Axelson’s attorney declined to comment.
In addition to reversing the County Board’s decision, the appellate court suggested the board develop conditions to the conditional-use permit.
“That’s a win for the county,” Commissioner Ron Allen said. “In the past, the CUP didn’t have any conditions when it was first issued. Now we’re going to put conditions on that.”
“I think in general we will continue our efforts to make sure that the health and safety situation out there is addressed before that facility can have the campground back in operation,” Betcher said. “We’re going to have to have ongoing discussions about, what is a campsite and how will it be labeled?”
Technically, Betcher said, the county could choose to appeal the appellate court’s decision. If commissioners decide to accept the decision and re-issue a conditional-use permit to Axelson, Hidden Valley Campground still won’t be able to operate until getting its license from the state.