EDA continues to seek zoning change to permit residential use at Cedar Grove Business Park

In 2020, in response to requests from potential buyers, the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority began work to allow “incidental residential use” in the Cedar Grove business park in the Grand Marais. The EDA had heard from business owners who wanted to start a business or expand an existing business about the difficulty of finding housing and a place for a business. The solution? Offering this accessory residential use. However, this proved to be complicated and is still pending, pending approval of changes to the zoning ordinance by the Grand Marais City Council.

In July 2021, the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority succeeded in passing a language-changing law that not only established the Cedar Grove Business Park, but other business/industrial parks around the state of Minnesota. The language allows entities managing business sites to modify the stricter rules of commercial/industrial use only for other uses. This legislation was passed in the hope that vacant business parks could be more creative in selling lots and getting on tax rolls.

However, before the new official language can be enforced, changes must also be made to the City of Grand Marais zoning ordinance. The EDA presented its plan to the Grand Marais Planning Commission on December 8, 2021 and was unanimously approved.

The planning commission’s recommendation was presented to city council on January 26 and raised a number of concerns. Councilors asked about the possibility of residential units being used for vacation rentals without stronger language preventing such use. The council raised concerns about pedestrian safety without sidewalks or streetlights. There were concerns about families living near propane tanks and boat storages and conflicts with truck traffic.

EDA Executive Director Beth Drost was at the city council meeting and took note of the concerns. At the February 9 EDA meeting, Drost shared the city’s concerns with its board of directors.

Drost said she would work on language that better addressed those concerns. She will report it to the next EDA meeting. EDA board members Carol Mork and Ann Sullivan volunteered to help as needed.

The EDA Board of Directors has agreed that obtaining this order change is urgent, as there are sales of Cedar Grove Business Park lots that depend on this language change.

WTIP’s Rhonda Silence spoke with EDA Director Drost about efforts to change this order, as well as other issues regarding Cedar Grove Business Park. The two also spoke about the need for a new EDA board member to replace Virginia Detrick Palmer who resigned in January and the work of the Cook County Early Childhood Coalition.

Here is their conversation.

The next EDA meeting will be Tuesday, March 8 at 4:00 p.m. in the Cook County Commissioner’s Room.


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