Pipeliners’ dilemma looked at again

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Workers building a natural gas pipeline through the county should know Sept.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

Workers building a natural gas pipeline through the county should know Sept. 9 whether they can park their RV’s at Countryside Hills Mobile Home Park.

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Two days after the Board of Zoning Appeals meets to consider if the addition of RVs will increase the park’s nonconforming zoning status, a special meeting of the City Council is set to approve the Board of Zoning Appeals’ recommendation.

The first meeting is set for Sept. 7 at 12 p.m. in City Hall’s all-purpose room. The special council meeting is in the council’s chamber room Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m.

&uot;We don’t have an RV facility in Albert Lea unless the board of appeals recommends that that’s (allowing the pipeline RVs into the park) a nonconforming use,&uot; said Albert Lea Mayor Marv Wangen. The meeting will serve as a public hearing to allow neighboring residents the opportunity to address the issue.

While a city ordinance does prohibit RV parking in a manufactured home park, Countryside doesn’t currently conform with city zoning. Because it’s nonconforming, it’s not technically considered a manufactured home park; the ordinance doesn’t apply to Countryside.

But the city can’t allow the expansion of nonconforming zoning, said City Planner Bob Graham, adding that the purpose of nonconforming zoning is to bring it into compliance.

The park is considered nonconforming because it doesn’t provide a storm shelter, has commercial uses on site and doesn’t include required landscape buffers.

Its privately owned streets are also in need of repairs, something park owners know but haven’t attempted to fix, said Councilor Don Mathison at a previous meeting.

If the Board of Zoning Appeals does approve a &uot;redefinition&uot; of the nonconforming use, the council would have the final approval, but would likely follow the recommendation.

Owned by Alliance Pipeline, the pipeline will extend from Canada to Illinois and cross seven Minnesota counties. Construction in Freeborn County is expected to take two seasons, with workers leaving in the winter and returning in the spring.

Some pipeline families have parked their RV’s at the park, but many more are staying in other community moble home parks. As many as 300 pipeline workers are now staying in the area.

Enrollment numbers aren’t yet known, but some families have contacted local schools about enrolling their children while in the area.