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Backus: Property discussions about zoning, safety issues resolved

Discussion of properties began in November

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The Backus City Council revisited discussions of zoning and safety issues pertaining to three properties in Backus at its Monday, Feb. 1, regular meeting, bringing those issues to a close with all parties seeming satisfied.

At the Nov. 9 meeting, the council first discussed possible issues with an expansion project at the Bayside Resort as well as two properties owned by Don Orth, one that had a large sewage leak in the basement and another that was still standing across the road from city hall after being mostly destroyed in a fire.


Neighbors of Bayside Resort brought a project at the resort to the council's attention. Possible zoning issues were identified as the resort had been working to add new pads to park additional campers and RVs and allowing the residential building on the property to be rented.

The resort had not applied for any permits for the work and it was found that because the resort is a commercial property located in a residential zone, any work required city approval and a conditional use permit.


At the February meeting, owners Troy and Stacey Watring had contacted the council to say they would be happy to put the work on hold and go through the proper channels to get approvals. In addition to getting required applications and approvals, they will hire a surveyor to review the size of the property and determine the impervious surface limitations as the council requested.


The council was concerned about the safety of two properties Orth owned as rentals. The council was concerned that curious parties might try to enter the building destroyed by fire and explore. They told Orth that he must board up the property to prevent entry and remove the building in a timely manner.

The sewage leak in the other property's basement reportedly included thousands of gallons of sewage. The council was concerned about the possibility of health issues from mold or contaminants.

In meetings that followed, Orth provided updates on cleanup, including using bleach to clean possible contaminated areas and replacing the water heater and furnace. Before allowing the property to be rented, the council said professionals must inspect it to determine its safety.

At the February meeting, the council revisited the safety concerns and were satisfied that Orth is working to have the burned building removed. In addition, an inspection report from Elite Environmental Services had given Orth's property a green light identifying it as having no air quality issues.

Inspectors left suggestions for further improving air quality if Orth desires, including installation of a dehumidifier and possible use of an ozone unit to further disinfect the air in the property, though the property was not found to have more than average contaminants.

The council agreed to allow the property to be rented again.


In addition, the council:

  • Learned of a pending donation of a pallet of salt by Enbridge Energy.
  • Learned of a successful investigation into drug dealing and use in the city that resulted in three arrests.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at

Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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