The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

February 11, 2013

Elysian council votes campground down

ELYSIAN — The Elysian City Council voted down a proposal Monday to build a 61-unit campground and six-unit hotel after councilors decided the lakeshore property should remain zoned as residential.

Supporters said the campground would bring visitors and investment to Elysian, while opponents said it wouldn’t meet land-use requirements. The issue at hand was a request to re-zone a 4.98-acre Lake Elysian parcel to highway commercial, though it became a discussion on the project itself.

Councilwoman Edna Thayer said she voted against the change in part because she believed the property would eventually be developed as housing, though she acknowledged two previous projects had fallen through.

“But that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t happen in the future,” she said.

Because re-zoning a property for commercial use requires four of the council’s five votes to pass, Thayer only needed one more dissenting vote. It came from Councilman Brian Ziemer.

He said he voted against the re-zoning in part because the proposal didn’t meet Waseca County’s requirements for a campground, including that it be at least five acres and be accessible by a paved road.

That line of reasoning drew harsh criticism from his fellow councilors and from City Administrator Pat Nusbaum.

“It has nothing to do with Waseca County,” Nusbaum said, shaking her head.

A small piece of southern Elysian lies within Waseca County, though Nusbaum said the city’s zoning rules, not the county’s, apply to this case because it is within the city limits.

“I haven’t even asked for a vote. You’re out of line,” Mayor Clinton Stoen said after Ziemer said he was voting “no.”

Janesville resident Chris Johnson, who had represented Nusbaum in a slander case against former Mayor Katy Anttila, accused Thayer of voting “no” at the behest of Anttila, who he said lives near the proposed campground.

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