Decision on re-zoning request for zip line tabled
The developers of a West Highway 61 parcel were given until
mid-June to persuade adjacent property owners that their plan to
rezone 21 acres from Permanent Residential to Recreational Commercial
is the best use of the site.
That was the decision of Grand Marais city councilors March 14 when
they tabled a vote on the proposal which, if ultimately approved, will
enable the petitioners to build a zip line on the site. The planning
commission considered the request from Matt Geretschlaeger and HRH
Highway 61 LLC a week prior to council’s meeting, and recommended
approval by unanimous vote. However, some members of council said they
were uncomfortable with the plan.
Citing letters received and comments made before the planning
commission from owners of adjacent property, Councilor Bill Lenz said
he couldn’t back the rezoning unless and until consent was given by
all of the residents whose property bordered the site. Lenz said he
believes that if people buy a piece of land which is surrounded by
property zoned residential, they should be able to expect that the
property will remain residential.
Mayor Larry Carlson also voiced concern about the project, saying he
feared a zip line would be a “move toward Disneyland.” “It just
doesn’t fit with what we’re all about,” he said, adding that if
he were in the same situation as the affected residents on Harborview
Trail, he’d want his neighborhood to be kept in the same zoning
classification it was in when purchased.
Councilor Jan Sivertson didn’t express any qualms about the plan, but
said it was important to ensure that there was an adequate buffer
around the enterprise, as the property in question adjoins residential
In response to the comments, Geretschlaeger said the ordinance
requires a 50-foot buffer, but plans call for at least 100 feet with
ample screening, and he didn’t believe noise would be a problem;
opposition from neighbors is dwindling, as evidenced from the fact
that none of those who complained at the planning commission meeting a
week earlier were in attendance at the council meeting; one resident
who sent a letter opposing the rezoning and zip line has withdrawn her
complaint; and the zone change is really the least impactful use of
the property and affords the city a greater level of control than it
would have if left in its present zone district.
Furthermore, Geretschlaeger pointed out, he was only asking council to
consider the rezoning request at the present time. Once that is
approved, he said, he will have to come back to present plans for the
zip line and ask for a conditional use permit.
“I would expect concerns due to the unknowns—it’s human
nature,” Geretschlaeger said. “But I can assure you that I’ll
have all of the information you need here later, and a team of experts
on zip lines will be here to make a presentation and answer all of