by Joni Astrup
Wapiti Park Campground will be forced to close the end of this year unless it takes corrective action, under a resolution approved by the Elk River City Council.
The council voted unanimously Monday, July 18, to revoke the campground’s conditional use permit (CUP) effective Dec. 31. The vote caps a simmering dispute between the two sides.
“This is somewhat extraordinary within the city to revoke a conditional use permit,” City Attorney Peter Beck told the council before the vote.
He said it should not be taken lightly.
Adam Kaatz, an attorney for Wapiti Park, said later that the council vote wasn’t unexpected.
“What our position is and always has been is that we’re a legal, nonconforming use and we should never have been required to get a CUP in the first place,” Kaatz said.
He said they’ve tried to work with the council.
“We don’t want to fight. We’d rather be an asset to the community,” he said.
Beck, meanwhile, recommended the Dec. 31 revocation date, rather than making it effective immediately.
Beck said he reflected on the history of the situation and the impact on the campground owners and residents and thought it made sense to give them an additional six months to come into compliance.
Wapiti Park has already sued the city over the matter.
“As of right now, we’re just going to proceed with the court action,” Kaatz said.
The city and the campground, located at 18746 Troy St. in Elk River, have been at odds for months. One of the city’s main concerns is its contention that people are living at the campground in violation of regulations.
The city has outlined six things Wapiti Park must do to prevent the permit from being revoked. They include:
•removing vehicles which are not recreational camping vehicles or recreational vehicles
•removing all structures other than the store building, the owner’s home, the barn and the bathhouse and restroom buildings.
•having the on-site septic system tested and bringing it into compliance with state and city regulations.
•submitting a plan for verifying that campers are not making vehicles, structures or tents in the campground their residence.
Wapiti Park has been in business since 1976. The conditional permit was issued in 1984.
The council had held a public hearing June 20 to consider revoking the permit. The council delayed action on the revocation until July 18 to allow Wapiti Park and others to comment.
The city received a memo from Wapiti Park’s attorney.
The city also heard from a former resident of Wapiti Park, who told the city that he believes 17 people who signed a petition opposed to Wapiti Park’s closure are permanent residents of the campground.
by Joni Astrup