Red River Valley Shows, Inc. seeks 15 full service campsites on parcel near RRVS building

The City Planning Commission will consider a conditional use permit on Feb. 15, and will also consider a variance request for Crookston's Ag Innovation Campus

Mike Christopherson

    The City of Crookston Planning Commission when it next meets on Tuesday, Feb. 15 will be asked to consider granting a conditional use permit so 15 new recreational campsites with electrical, water and sanitary sewer services can be developed on the parcel behind/immediately to the west of AmericInn along University Avenue. The parcel is owned by Red River Valley Shows, Inc., which owns the former Red River Valley Winter Shows building located next door, to the north, of AmericInn.

    According to the commission’s meeting agenda and memorandum disseminated prior to the Tuesday meeting, City staff recommends that the conditional use permit be approved, since campgrounds are a permissible use for the property under its current zoning designation, Rural Commercial.

    The proposed project would also include the construction of an access road to serve the new campsites, the memo states.

    The Times reached out to AmericInn by Wyndham General Manager Cory Dallager for his thoughts on the proposed project, and he said he’s aware of it and spoke to a representative of RRVS, Inc. about it a couple weeks ago. But, Dallager added, he needs to see more details.

    “We have lots of questions about this project,” he said. Those questions involve, he said, road access, drainage, water and sewer, and the how the project would potentially impact business at AmericInn.

    Meanwhile, the Crookston City Council last July voted in favor of moving ahead with the development of an RV campground in Central Park with up to 45 full-service campsites. The bulk of the estimated $1.7 million project is funded by a grant from the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks & Trails Commission to Crookston via its membership in the Red Lake River Corridor Enhancement Group Joint Powers Group. As part of the required local match, the City would have to spend an estimated $400,000 for a bathhouse to service the RV campground.

    The grant was awarded almost two years ago. Before the council vote last summer, then-Finance Director Angel Weasner said the campground needed to be constructed in 2021 to meet the required closing out of the grant in 2022.

    Asked by the Times if the status of the RV campground in Central Park had changed at all since the council’s July 2020 vote in favor, City Administrator Amy Finch said there are no updates since the council’s vote, and that if the council wanted to revisit the project, it would show up on a meeting agenda.

    At the Crookston Visitors Bureau Board of Directors meeting last week, the topic of campsite availability next summer for Line 3 pipeline workers came up, and when an update on the Central Park RV campground project was requested, Ward 2 City Council Member Steve Erickson said he thought the project is a “ways off.”

Ag Innovation Campus

    At the Feb. 15 meeting, City staff is also recommending that the Planning Commission grant a variance requested by leaders of the Ag Innovation Campus to be built this year just south of Ingersoll Avenue and along Highway 75 on Crookston’s southern edge.

    Several structures will exceed the maximum height allowed by City ordinance in a heavy industrial (I-1) zone. A proposed malt bucket could be up to 120 feet tall, and four other buckets (two for beans and two for meal) could be up to 90 feet tall.

    The work that will be done at the AIC fits the I-1 Zone definition, City staff indicate in their recommendation to approve, and some flexibility in the height of its various structures is necessary for the facility to maintain versatility and adaptability as part of its research mission.