WALKER -- Questions of whether Gullview on Gull Lake now is a resort or residential planned unit development and whether additional residences and boat slips built on the property since 2001 should stay has been appealed to Minnesota Court of Appeals.
On Wednesday, Judge David Harrington issued an order in Cass County District Court staying an order he made April 14 to remove three cabins and nine dock slips from the Gullview property.
Through 1999, Gullview operated as a traditional resort with eight cabins, an owner's house and three docks adequate for 20 16-foot fishing boats.
Since then, the property has been transferred from individual ownership into a corporate cooperative. There now are 14 cabin units and 14 boat slips.
Neighbors argued in district court against the additional construction and contended the property now is operated as a planned unit residential development requiring different development criteria from resorts. Harrington concurred in his April 14 ruling.
Gullview Association appealed that decision May 11 to Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Also involved in the civil lawsuit is Cass County, whose environmental services department issued permits for the new construction. The county has not made an appeal to this point, though Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust attorneys, who defended the county in district court, are scheduled for a closed meeting Tuesday with the county board.
Gullview owner Tom Steffens and Gullview Associates applied for a 21-unit residential planned unit development conditional use permit in 1999, then withdrew the application.
In January 2000, Gullview Associates applied for a 14-unit commercial planned unit development, which Cass County Planning Commission denied.
On July 5, 2000, Gullview Associates submitted a preliminary site plan to Cass County Environmental Services, showing six new cabins for a resort.
In mid-2001, Gullview Associates made two separate applications for building permits, one for new cabin units 9, 10 and 11 and one new cabin units 12, 13 and 14. Cass County ESD issued permits for units 9,10 and unit 11.
On July 20, 2001, Gullview Association formed an incorporated cooperative, with covenants filed in the Cass County Recorder's Office, and assumed ownership of the property. Under the covenants each unit has 1/14th interest in association common elements and expenses. Each unit would be leased long-term to a cooperative member.
That summer, Gullview completed construction and remodeling on 12 cabin units, with two under construction and began selling individual cooperative units comprised of one cabin and one boat slip. Five units are waterfront. Nine units are not.
Gullview paid a resort lodging license fee to Cass County in 2001. Gullview maintains a Web site listing four units for weekly rental, but no evidence exists any units were rented short-term.
On Sept. 10, 2001, Assistant County Attorney Jon P. Eclov advised ESD Director Paul Fairbanks by letter that Gullview is a resort and could add five new units. In November, Cass County ESD issued building permits for units 12, 13, 14.
On June 8, 2002, Cass County ESD revoked building permits for units 12, 13 and 14.
On Aug. 9, 2002, Eclov again advised Fairbanks by letter that Gullview meets the definition of a resort and recommended permits be reinstated, so in October, Cass County ESD reinstated permits for units 12, 13 and 14.
Timothy Yeh and Richard Kirklin, neighbors, appealed to the board of adjustment the ESD staff's permit issuance.
On Dec. 9, 2002, Cass County Board of Adjustment upheld the building permit issuance, but declined to address number of boat slips or whether Gullview is a planned unit development.
In 2003, Yeh and Kirkland appealed the board of adjustment decision to Ninth Judicial District Court, citing Cass County, Gullview Association Inc. and Gullview Associates LLP.
Harrington reversed the board of adjustment decision April 14. He ruled Gullview is a residential planned unit development and should comply with county PUD ordinance provisions, that permits for units 12, 13, 14 are revoked and boat slips are limited to only five for onshore lots, plus one day dock.
On April 23, Fairbanks responded to the court order by sending a letter to Thomas Steffens ordering Gullview to remove all but five boat slips for the waterfront units by May 14 and to submit a cabin removal plan to ESD by May 31 for units 12, 13, 14.
Harrington's stay ordered Wednesday has the effect of suspending orders Fairbanks issued in his letter to Steffens.
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