A special use permit was approved unanimously Tuesday as requested and with only the conditions recommended by county planning for a summer church camp in Clark to continue operations as they have …
A special use permit was approved unanimously Tuesday as requested and with only the conditions recommended by county planning for a summer church camp in Clark to continue operations as they have done the last 18 years.
After a lengthy planning and zoning process and a two-meeting-long public hearing, commissioners (with Scott Steward participating remotely) relatively quickly resolved to approve the SUP over the objections of a few neighbors — and with the support of a number of others.
Conditions on the SUP beyond what planning and zoning had recommended focused on the possibility of noting limitations on the Line Creek Subdivision’s common land. In the prior meeting, Commissioner Lee Livingston has asked the ranch owners, Scott and Gretchen Hutton, if they could operate the ranch without using the common land. Gretchen Hutton said they could, but it would hurt the experience. At the resumption of the public hearing two weeks later, the Hutton’s attorney said the commissioners’ policies did not task them with enforcing or even considering subdivision covenants, a few of which certain neighbors alleged the Huttons or their guests had broken.
Livingston then said while he had asked a lot of tough questions, he was making a motion to approve the SUP with no new conditions.
“If there’s an issue with common ground, it’s a civil issue that doesn’t involve us,” Livingston said. “My feeling is this application is for the property, any issue with neighbors is a civil issue.”
After a question by a neighbor after the SUP was approved, Chair Dossie Overfield clarified the position.
“What happens to the common ground is up to the subdivision,” she said.
Gretchen Hutton also spoke to clarify the time spent in the common area during the three weeks of summer camp.
“It’s two mornings a week, trail rides are about an hour, less than 15 minutes includes roads in common ground, a little dip into the creek area, we’re really not talking about that much use of time,” she said.
The long-running summer youth camps on Louis Lamour Lane were brought to staff’s attention by a neighbor, who shared several concerns. They included compliance with covenants, risk of wildfires, nuisances, unpermitted structures and water and septic issues. Recent changes to/expansion of the camp triggered the report, Dillivan said, and planning staff determined the use hadn’t been permitted by the county. He said staff have had numerous conversations with the applicants about bringing the property into compliance with county regulations.
The Huttons said they run the summer camps purely as a volunteer effort to give back, assisting the Central Minnesota Youth for Christ. They take place over a span of six weeks: three week-long camps with a week of prep work preceding each.
According to the Huttons, roughly 16 to 24 youth attend each session. Mentors, staff, activity specialists and volunteers bring the total number of individuals hosted to 38-52 per session.