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Legal Challenges and Community Opposition: The Rough-N-It Campground Controversy

A controversial campground in Black Bay, Lake Vermilion, Minnesota has opened its doors despite being denied a rezoning request by the county Planning Commission. 

According to an article by Timberjay, the campground, intended to serve disabled veterans, has sparked a complaint to the commission and raised concerns about legal challenges, traffic, and emergency services.

The campground, named Rough-N-It, is a project organized by Christine Wyrobek, founder of the Britt nonprofit. 

Wyrobek sought to rezone a 44.8-acre water-access-only site and two .32-acre mainland lots from residential to shoreland multiple use to accommodate the campground

However, the request was rejected by a 7-1 vote in a May 11 Planning Commission meeting. Despite the rejection, Wyrobek announced the campground’s opening on August 17 via the Rough-N-It Facebook page.

Photo courtesy of Rough-N-It Facebook page

The announcement highlighted the amenities offered, including a canvas tent, comfortable seating, cooking utensils, solar shower, rowboat, dock, solar lighting, and a fish cleaning table. The post also mentioned a special package for US veterans at $10 per night and a regular camper package at $100 per night.

Despite the excitement shared by Wyrobek, the opening faced strong opposition from the local community. At the May 11 meeting, three people spoke in favor of the proposal, citing the intent to serve disabled veterans, while 42 audience members and 17 out of 18 written correspondences opposed it. 

The Beatty Township town board also passed a formal resolution opposing the campground, supported by a petition with over 100 signatures.

Concerns raised included the increase in traffic on Raps Road, described as the most scenic but most dangerous road in the area, and doubts about emergency services reaching the water-access-only campground in a timely manner. 

Other concerns included the negative impact on property values, quality of life, and the possibility of opening the door to other types of business development.

Wyrobek and her attorney, Julie Padilla, argued that the county’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP) designated the area for lakeshore development and that the county must act in favor of the landowner in situations related to the CLUP. 

However, opponents, including land use attorney Dick Nowlin, countered that the CLUP does not control the issue and that spot zoning, which is illegal under Minnesota law, would occur if the rezoning was approved.

The commission ultimately rejected the request, stating that the proposed use was not consistent with the CLUP and that rezoning would constitute spot zoning. 

They also noted that there are ample areas zoned for shoreline multiple use on Lake Vermilion that would allow for new development and that no clear public need was evident to support the rezoning.

Despite the commission’s decision, Wyrobek proceeded with the campground development. Senior planner Mark Lindhorst confirmed that the county is aware of the situation and is following its standard compliance process. However, he could not share additional information until a resolution had been reached.

The Rough-N-It campground situation is a crucial reminder for private campground owners about the importance of legal approvals and community relations. 

Proceeding with development without the necessary approvals carries significant business risks, including legal challenges, fines, and potential closure.

It also underscores the importance of engaging with local residents and addressing their concerns before proceeding with development.

Private campground owners must consider the impact of their developments on local traffic, emergency services, property values, and quality of life. 

The strong opposition from the local community and the legal challenges faced by the Rough-N-It campground highlight the importance of obtaining all necessary permits and approvals before proceeding with development.

As the situation unfolds, it remains to be seen how the county will respond to the opening of the Rough-N-It campground and what legal challenges may arise.

Featured image from Rough-N-It Facebook page


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Legal Challenges and Community Opposition: The Rough-N-It Campground Controversy! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/minnesota/legal-challenges-and-community-opposition-the-rough-n-it-campground-controversy/