Parking Plan Remains Major Stumbling Block For Proposed Hotel

Feb 25, 2020

Credit Town of

MINOCQUA – Declaring themselves unable to approve a nonconforming project, Minocqua plan commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday, Feb. 25 to again recommend denial of a county permit needed to build a nine-unit hotel in Minocqua. “I don’t think we can approve something that is nonconforming,” said commissioner Bill Stengl, a local businessman. 

Eagle River developer Glen Schiffmann wants to build the hotel on two parcels where Mom’s Laundromat and Bay View Motel once stood. Well-known grocer Trygve (Trig) Solberg owns the property currently.

At its third appearance before the body, the matter edged closer to having most concerns, such as stormwater handling and a landscaping plan, successfully addressed. The county corporation counsel has said due to the vagueness of the county code, that the project would need only a minimum of 13 parking spaces.

But commissioners refused to approve the parking plan for guest vehicles, thus triggering the “no” vote. “This is a new development,” said town chairman Mark Hartzheim. “We should try to get everything to meet the requirements.” Site plans for the lower level lot show parking within 75 feet of Lake Minocqua, which is against county code. Parking that was shown earlier on the town road right-of-way, which is against town ordinance, was adjusted to comply.

In a meeting that stretched for two and a half hours, commissioners and the developer’s agent, James Rein of Wilderness Surveying, dove into issues of the overall plan. They ranged from the aforementioned parking layout to retention walls to traffic flow in and out of the proposed parking lot adjacent to U.S. Highway 51.

Mike Meyers, who lives next door to the property, questioned why the matter was before the commission again when, he said, the state Department of Transportation hasn’t yet signed off on the ingress and egress to the property. Hartzheim noted that some guests would have “inches” rather than feet to maneuver vehicles in the upper level parking lot. There’s concern that drivers would attempt to back out on U.S. Highway 51 because of a lack of room. “It’s not a safe situation,” said commissioner Tom Church if that would happen. “It would be a zoo.”

Hartzheim and others were adamant that trailers not be allowed in either the highway or lakeside parking lots. Rein has said the developer has struck an agreement with another business to store trailers off premise. If eventually approved, Hartzheim added, there would have to post signs saying parking in designated areas only. Stengl said he had an issue with the parking plan that showed at least one parking stall closer than 20 feet to the curb, which would be against county code. There are also two substandard size stalls. The developer could seek relief from the 75-foot setback from the lake through a process involving the county board of adjustment.

However, Hartzheim observed, “To my view, there is no hardship” that would qualify for an exemption. “If there’s any hardships here, they’re self induced.”

Meyers again raised concerns about hotel guests bringing trailers down to Lakeview Drive. At Rein’s request, there was limited discussion on whether Schiffmann would be allowed the number of piers he’s outlined. A county zoning representative said the department’s current position is that Schiffmann would be allowed one pier with four berthing spaces. Pier spaces could not be rented out, it was said. While town officials welcome business development, Hartzheim said, they don’t want to allow issues that create headaches for the town after the developer walks away. “We have to live with it,” he said.

The application for the conditional use permit (CUP) now heads back to the town board for another recommendation to the county planning and development committee. The county earlier tabled the CUP application after the town board recommended denial.