City approves variance for an Accessory Dwelling Unit, reviews process
Craig Schulte once again served as acting mayor at the last city council meeting on April 27. The city handled a variance request, a request for assistance from the Grand Marais Art Colony, and agreed to finalize its agreement on a dog park being built on city land by Go Dog North Shore.
The approval of the variance request for Lori Austin for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) was made quickly. Two city councilors serve on the Grand Marais Planning Commission, Anton Moody, and Michael Garry. They told their council colleagues that the variance request was approved by the planning commission. Garry added that the construction of the accessory dwelling unit helps meet one of the city’s goals to increase housing.
In fact, Garry said, if an ADU meets lot line setbacks, there is no need to come to the planning commission for a variance. City staff can approve building permits that meet city ordinance codes. He explained that in this case a variance was needed because the new structure is larger than the existing home on the city lot.
The structure that Austin plans to build is a 28×32-foot garage with an upstairs apartment. It is larger than the small house currently on the lot. However, since Austin’s long-range plan is to add onto the home to increase its size to 32×40 feet, the planning commission and the city council members felt a variance was reasonable.
Art Colony seeks city support
The council heard a request from the Grand Marais Art Colony for city support of the Grand Marais Arts Festival on July 9-10. Representing the Art Colony, Lin Salisbury asked for use of city trash cans and trash removal during the festival, street barriers, and pedestrian crossing flags.
City Administrator Mike Roth said the city could likely spare some garbage cans, but not the personnel to remove the trash. Councilor Tracy Benson noted that it would be an additional cost to the city to have people working over the weekend to haul trash. She said it seems that should be an expense factored into an event.
However, Benson noted that the city does not have a clear policy on this and said a policy does need to be developed, reminding the board that the council recently told the Grand Marais Lions Club that it cannot help with the expense of additional Port-a-Potties for the Fisherman’s Picnic event.
The council recommended that the Art Colony work with School District 166, which might be using its large trash dumpsters less in July. The school may be able to provide space for volunteers to take the trash. The city agreed to provide traffic barriers and ten trash cans.
Go Dog North Shore gets go ahead
Appearing on behalf of Go Dog North Shore, Cathy Quinn and Barb Heidemann gave an update on the nonprofit’s plans for the dog park at the corner of Fifth Avenue and the Gunflint Trail. Quinn told the city that the original plan was to complete the dog park in two phases, but after planning for fencing at the park, Go Dog North Shore realized it was more efficient to erect all of the fencing at once. Quinn also noted that fundraising efforts to date have gone better than anticipated, so the group should have the finances to move ahead on the project. She said the group needs to raise approximately $20,000.
To move ahead, however, Go Dog North Shore, needs a formal agreement with the city. There was a discussion of wetland mitigation, where trails would go within the dog park, and parking. It was noted that not all details needed to be outlined in an agreement, but basic information needs to be included. Roth said he and the group would work on language that fell somewhere between “do whatever you want” and “you have to get approval for everything.”
Citizens appointed to EDA, planning commission
In other business, the city council made two appointments. Mark Shackleton, the owner of the Grand Marais Subway, was appointed to the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority as the city’s representative. Brandon Bachelor was appointed to the Grand Marais Planning Commission, filling the vacancy that should prevent deadlocked planning commission votes.
A citizen is still needed to serve on the Grand Marais Library Board.
City involvement in County Parks & Trails
In the final part of the city council meeting, as councilors gave updates on meetings and events they have attended, Acting Mayor Schulte said he had recently attended the Cook County Parks & Trails meeting. He said the county had a staff person who was facilitating these meetings, but that person resigned and not much was happening regarding parks and trails. Schulte said he questioned the need for this entity, but after attending the meeting he said he sees its value. He said at the start of the meeting, a list of user groups was reviewed. He said it is important for the county to work with these groups.
The next city council meeting is Wednesday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the city council chambers at city hall. The meeting can also be live-streamed on the city’s YouTube channel. On the May 11 agenda is a request from the Bad Seed food truck to operate on city property during the summer. The council will also consider the bids received to build three interpretive kiosks along Highway 61 in Grand Marais. The expense was approved by the council at their February 18 meeting.
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with Acting Mayor Craig Schulte about all of this. Here’s their conversation.