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Planning Commission recommends change to City Code regarding 'special events'

Members of the Cloquet Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend the city clarify its definition of "special event" in the city code, a move prompted by a request from Environmental Cloquet Landfill (formerly Shamrock) in March.

The landfill requested extended hours — 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday rather than 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. — to allow trucks to haul in contaminated sediment dredged from a Superfund site at the bottom of Chequamegon Bay in Ashland, Wis.

The "special event" clause in their conditional use permit allows for such requests, but is very vague.

City Planner/Zoning Administrator Al Cottingham said the Planning Commission lacks the authority to change the conditional use permit unless there are violations — there haven't been — or unless the business requests it. They didn't. The recommended definition reads as follows:

Subd. 107.2 Special Event. Means a unique or unforeseen event of limited duration occurring within the City of Cloquet Area or within 30 miles of the primary site of the special event site which is within the City of Cloquet, and is of such significance as to allow for the relaxation of zoning requirements and the implementation of special provisions when provided in any permit, variance, or other zoning document.

The Zoning Administrator shall make the final determination as to whether the significance of a special event 7 days or less in duration rises to the level of a Special Event. The Planning Commission shall be the approval authority of all special events in excess of 7 days. A special event may be extended by the approval authorities noted above.

Cottingham estimated that approximately eight of the dozen or so people in the audience at the meeting were there for the "special event" discussion. Because the public hearing was held in April, discussion was only between city staff and commissioners.

The change to definition will not affect the ongoing special event at the landfill, but could affect future requests.

In other matters Tuesday, Commissioners recommended the Cloquet City Council approve two other zoning cases, including a Dunlap Island alley vacation request by Bert Whittington and a variance requested by Morning Star Woodworks to allow a pylon sign with a height of 35 feet to be constructed at 801 Tall Pine Lane.