Public hearing set for annexation request in Grand Marais

Grand Marais city councilors have set April 11 as the day on 
which a public hearing will be held to consider an annexation request 
which, if approved, may pave the way for construction of a zip line at
the city’s west entrance.
The site in question is a 5-acre parcel at 1800 W. Highway 61 (near 
the Grand Marais Inn, formerly Tomteboda) which is currently zoned 
R-1. To accommodate the zip line, the owners are asking that the zone 
district be changed to R/C (Recreation-Commercial). And because the 
parcel lies outside of the city limits, it would have to be annexed in 
order for the city to change the zoning.
City Administrator Mike Roth explained at council’s Feb. 29 meeting 
that a public hearing regarding the annexation has to be held after 
all adjacent owners and the county have been given 30 days notice. 
Council then has to vote approval of the proposed annexation and 
notify the state, which must grant final approval.
It was decided that council’s April 11 meeting was the soonest the 
public hearing could be scheduled without holding a special meeting. 
City Attorney Chris Hood said he saw no complications or problems with 
gaining approval from the state once the city has said okay, as the 
annexation petition is a relatively simple and straightforward one. 
Past efforts at annexation in Grand Marais have been bogged down in 
the legal process, and took extended periods of time to complete – 
that should not be the case here, Hood said.
Upon completion of the annexation and rezoning, HRH Highway 61 and 
Matt Geretschlaeger are proposing to construct two 1,000-foot-long 
side-by-side zip lines, which will start from a six-story launch tower 
and have a 15-story descent. According to the developer’s website, www.superiorziplines.com
, the rider will reach speeds up to 45 mph, flying above the trees and 
at times a mere 10 feet from the ground, in either a seated position 
in a harness, or in a prone position face-first.
It is hoped the enterprise, which is touted as the first high-speed 
zip line in Minnesota, will be up and running this summer. The design 
and construction of the project on the currently vacant lot will be 
done by Geronimo Construction of Biwabik.
According to the application submitted by Geretschlaeger, the project 
will require a minimum of 16 new employees, which may expand to 24 as 
the market develops. “The advantage to the entire city and the good of 
the public is that they might personally enjoy a new recreational 
sport, the business owners will experience higher traffic, and 16 
local people will have the opportunity of employment,” Geretschlaeger 
wrote.