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Appeals court returns permit to campground

WELCH — A campground that's been at odds with Goodhue County officials over a conditional-use permit recently got a favorable ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The county board's decision to revoke a permit the campground needs to operate was overturned by the appeals court last week.

The three-judge panel ruled on Aug. 13 that the board didn't have sufficient evidence to revoke Hidden Valley Campground's conditional-use permit in November 2011. The campground apparently doesn't comply with state health and sanitation requirements, but health and safety conditions are not part of the county's permit for the campground, the court ruled.

Judge Edward Cleary also wrote that the county board did not have substantial evidence that Hidden Valley Campground violated its conditional-use permit by having more than 200 campsites.

The Goodhue County Land Use Management Department raised concerns about the campground in 2010 and 2011, including allegations that it exceeded its capacity and didn't comply with several safety and sanitation requirements, according to court documents.


The Minnesota Department of Health didn't renew the campground's 2012 because of the conditional-use permit revocation, said health department spokesman Buddy Ferguson. The campground owner has asked the health department license to be renewed in light of the appeals court decision. As of Thursday, the health department license hasn't been reinstated because Hidden Valley still has outstanding violations that need to be corrected, Ferguson said.

The campground also has conditions it must meet for a waste water permit, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spokesman Stephen Mikkelson said Thursday.

In response to a Post-Bulletin request, Hidden Valley campground owner Cory Axelson released an email statement in which he said that this year is the campground's 50th anniversary.

"We are pleased that the State of Minnesota Appellate Court has overturned Goodhue County's decision in which wrongly they revoked our permit," Axelson wrote. "We have been closed for this entire season, and are confident we will be opening soon."

County Attorney Stephen Betcher and the land use management department could not be reached for comment.

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