St. Michael unanimous in teen camp approval

This is a map showing the location for the new Minnesota Teen Challenge boys boarding school and recreational camp on the west side of Lake Charlotte. The city council unanimously approved a permit allowing for the use.
This is a map showing the location for the new Minnesota Teen Challenge boys boarding school and recreational camp on the west side of Lake Charlotte. The city council unanimously approved a permit allowing for the use.

The St. Michael City Council unanimously approved an interim use permit to allow a Minnesota Teen Challenge boys boarding school and adult recreational visits at the former Girl Scout camp at Lake Charlotte.

The council also approved plans for a 38-home development at St. Michael Parkway, and heard about plans for a second apartment building at St. Michael Parkway. The council also increased its annual contribution to the STMA Ice Arena to help fund capital expenditures.



Community development director Marc Weigle reviewed the request for an interim use permit submitted by the Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge (MNTC).

For almost 30 years, MNTC aims to restore hope for people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. It is a long-term faith-based recovery program with prevention and transitional/aftercare services, serving people with a broad spectrum of addiction issues.

Weigle noted the planning commission hosted a public hearing April 2 that was attended by all city council members. The commission voted 5-2 to recommend approval. Weigle said the two who voted against approval were not against the use, but would have preferred a time limit as part of approval, or a requirement that the city review the use at a set time.

Approval includes 26 conditions.

Councilor Joe Marx said a resident who lives near the facility requested something be set up in the event a boy leaves the property, and that all the lake residents could be contacted immediately. It was noted the sheriff’s office has an automatic call system that could be used at the sheriff’s discretion.

Several council members expressed their appreciation of the thorough job the commission did at the public hearing.

Councilor Kevin Kasel said the proposed use is compatible with how the Girl Scouts used the property. He said the commission’s discussion was very thoughtful and comprehensive, and is satisfied with the recommendation. It was agreed that with all the conditions placed for approval — including that the permit is only in effect as long as MNTC is the owner and operator, and that MNTC will meet as requested with the city and residents to discuss concerns or issues — a defined date for the permit to expire is not necessary.

Eric Vagle of MNTC was present and said the conditions are pretty tight, but that MNTC is ok with them. He said they would do everything they can to be good neighbors.

After additional discussion, Mayor Jerry Zachman and councilors Kasel, Marx, Nadine Schoen and Chris Schumm  unanimously approved the interim use permit.





In other action, the council discussed plans for new apartments at St. Michael Parkway, and approved plans for a residential development at St. Michael Parkway.

Community development director Weigle said Sand Companies is interested in constructing a second apartment building on the south side of St. Michael Parkway, across from the existing Cornerstone Apartments. The council reviewed several concepts and said it is receptive to another similar apartment building.

It was noted Sand Companies would apply to the state for tax credits and likely move forward with a second building in spring 2015, and that tax increment financing would be used as part of the project. The plan would be similar to the first one, with underground parking available.

The council also approved the final plat for Cascades — a 38-lot development located on the south side of St. Michael Parkway (across the street from St. Michael Elementary School). D.R. Horton plans to begin the grading and utility work as soon as possible, with a model home constructed by early fall.



In other matters, city administrator Steve Bot said that the council should decide whether to increase the annual contribution to the ice arena by $5,000 or if the ice rates should be raised to properly fund depreciation and capital expenses.

Increasing the contribution was discussed at the recent joint meeting of the St. Michael and Albertville city councils and the STMA School Board. The arena is owned jointly by St. Michael, Albertville and the school district.

The council discussed the ice rates, which are already high compared to other neighboring facilities. Councilor Kasel noted the annual contribution goes to capital improvement costs and is not needed to subsidize facility operations.

Staff said the money would come from the city’s Capital Building Fund, which the council was able to transfer more money into than budgeted, based on a surplus last year.

The council ended up approving the annual contribution to $15,000, effective for this year.

In other action, the council:

HEARD reports from the STMA Baseball Association and Softball Association. There were 80 baseball teams with 1,100 players participating last year. There were 30 softball teams with 290 players participating last year. Scott Morris of the association presented a $1,000 donation for use of the fields.

SET a joint meeting with the planning commission for Wednesday, May 21, at 7 p.m. to discuss items related to zoning and development.