By LESLEY TOTH
Mille Lacs County Times
Area residents attended the Mille Lacs County Planning Commission meeting this past Monday evening to voice concerns about a proposed scrap yard near 180th Avenue and U.S. Highway 169.
The discussion between commissioners, general manager of the proposed business, Mike Mueller, and input from neighbors, lasted for more than two hours.
Mueller attended the meeting with the hope to dispel the concerns neighbors had with the property.
“I don’t like being painted with a broad brush because of what happened at some scrap yard in the 80s,” Mueller told the Times last week. “We’ve been doing this for 20 years and we’ve never had an issue with the EPA.”
Property owner Grant VanWyngeeren would like to operate a metal reclamation (recycling) center on the parcel of land in question, and has requested a conditional use permit from the county to do so.
Neighbors Julie and Dale Van Steenwyk oppose the facility as their property and home is adjacent to the proposed site. The couple told the commission the fence would need to be much higher than it is currently in order for the center to comply with state statutes that contend “in no case shall junk be visible from abutting properties or public right of ways.”
Although the county board sent the request back to the planning commission with a request to require a 10-foot fence, the commission amended the conditions to require VanWyngeeren to build the fence at seven feet, a height of which the Van Steenwyks disagreed.
“From our living room window, you can clearly see where the proposed junk piles would be,” Julie Van Steenwyk told commissioners. “We believe it would need at least a 30-foot fence to block our view.”
Carla Bruggeman, another concerned resident in the area, also addressed the commission. She said the application was incomplete and asked the panel to deny the request for the permit and ask VanWyngeeren to reapply. Van Steenwyk agreed.
“The incomplete application should have been given back to him,” she said.
Bruggeman took issue with the fact the application had several questions left blank and the hand-drawn proposal was not to-scale, a requirement printed clearly on the application.
“I feel bad for the applicant, because he’s going to have to go back over it,” Bruggeman said. “But that’s his fault because he didn’t follow the process.”
The commission also rejected that request.
“I see no reason to stop the process,” Commissioner Larry Ziebarth said. “We have two months into this.”
For the fully story, see the Thursday, March 15 print edition of the Times.