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Minocqua Hotel Plans Get Another ‘no’ Vote

Town of Minocqua.org

MINOCQUA -- A developer’s revised plan for a nine-unit hotel in Minocqua was voted down by the Minocqua Town Board on Tuesday, setting the stage for arguments at the county level on Thursday.

“It’s impossible for me to move this forward with the number of questions out there,” said supervisor Billy Fried, citing concerns about the project’s overall layout and parking in particular. “At the end of the day, we want to get it right,” said fellow supervisor Bill Stengl.

He explained that his earlier vote at the plan commission against denying the CUP was based on the hope that the developer and commission could come up with a solution.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim said the town needs additional lodging units, but too many issues remain unresolved with this project. The board’s unanimous vote against the conditional use permit (CUP) application heard familiar concerns raised twice earlier by the plan commission, which has also voted against the permit issuance.

The county’s planning and development committee will take up the CUP with a public hearing at 2 p.m. Thursday. The county could override the town and approve the permit -- likely with several conditions -- or reject it outright.

Stengl at one point wanted to send the application back to the plan commission with a recommendation to the developer to reduce it to six units with underground parking. But there was concern that the plan commission would be spinning its wheels without a major concession on the number of units proposed. From the audience, plan commissioner Tom Church said it shouldn’t come back to his body unless “all the questions are anwered.”

Eagle River developer Glenn Schiffmann has said that without the full nine units, and an accompanying six boating berths on Lake Minocqua, the project won’t fly. The county currently says the project qualifies for only four boating slips. With the developer adamant on keeping all nine units, the town board decided to move the application to the county with a “no” vote.

Several concerns voiced

As before, much of the concerns centered on parking, both on the main entrance on the upper level, as well as on the lower level. If approved, the hotel would be built on two combined lots that formerly housed Mom’s Laundromat and the Bay View Inn. Tryge (Trig) Solberg owns the property, which is located along U.S. Highway 51 just north of the Island of Minocqua.

Jim Rein, of Wilderness Surveying, is the agent for the developer. In his revised plan he removed the covered main entrance to gain more parking spaces. He contends a truck pulling a 24-foot trailer would be able to maneuver in and out of the upper parking area. Supervisors were not convinced of that, with audience member Mike Meyers, who lives adjacent to the site, arguing drivers would attempt to back trailers onto the busy four-lane highway. Also, the lower level parking spaces are thought to be intruding onto the right-of-way of Lakeview Drive. A plan commissioner earlier suggested posting “no parking” along that stretch of Lakeview. Meyers said anyone inadvertently bringing a trailer down that street would have to back it up the entire length, as there is no turnaround. Rein said the developer has a tentative agreement with Lakeland Power Sports in Woodruff to house snowmobile and boat trailers of hotel guests.

Despite a promise that the developer would post no trailer parking, Hartzheim said the hotel guests (or future condo users) would end up parking trailers there. “Despite everybody’s goodwill and good wishes, there’s gong to be snowmobile trailers there,” he said. “It’s going to be trailer haven,” agreed Myers. Meyers and the supervisors say the developer is rushing the project without a full review by the plan commission.

There are still questions about proposed stormwater handling, retaining walls, snow removal, and others concerns. The town’s attorney has yet to return with an opinion on that right-of-way issue. The likelihood that the developer at some future date would turn the ownership of the hotel into condominiums has been raised also. The units as shown include walk-in closets and pantries. Hartzheim said the county should “treat these more like dwelling units,” rather than typical motel or hotel stays. “It’s not a motel or hotel that I am use to,” echoed Karl Jennrich, county zoning director. Hartzheim said the town doesn’t want a repeat of problems resulting from other condo projects along the lakeshore. “This is going to be a problematic development,” he predicted.

To that end, Fried agreed to add Hartzheim’s list of concerns to his motion to reject the plans. Fried also sits on the county planning and development committee.

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