, 2022-11-22 17:03:48,
John Pazlar has represented residents of May Township as a town board supervisor for 23 years.
During that time, he said, he’s never seen township residents as passionate or engaged about a topic as they have been regarding the possibility of a Catholic youth group opening a summer camp in Wilder Forest.
Pazlar and the two other town board supervisors, John Adams and Steve Magner, voted unanimously on Tuesday to direct staff to come back next week with a proposal that would exclude “youth, camp” as an allowed use within the township’s conservancy zoning district. That language could stop the Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership’s plan to place a camp on the 600 acres of land owned by the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.
“I’ve never seen the public come out more passionately and affirmatively for or against something as they have for this,” Pazlar told the standing-room-only crowd at May Town Hall on Tuesday morning. “Ultimately, our job, if nothing else, is to represent those people and what their wishes are. Based on that, based on my read of what the community wants here, (‘youth, camp’) is going to fail as language to be retained.”
Many of the more than 60 people who attended the meeting cheered when the vote was taken.
“This is certainly a step in the right direction in terms of protecting the land,” Drew Goodson, the executive director of the River Grove charter school said after the meeting. “We’ll just see what happens. My hope is that the camp and Wilder have received indications that this might not be something that is in the future for the Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership and maybe they would consider other entities who are willing to buy the property and have a use that is more in line with what the community wants.”
Part of the Wilder Forest land is currently leased to the River Grove charter school, which has strong support from parents and residents. The K-6 school, known officially as Marine Area Community School, is housed in several cottages that used to be leased by Concordia Language Villages. The lease between Wilder Foundation and River Grove expires on June 30, 2023.
Minnesota Catholic Youth Partnership, based in Medina, plans to open an overnight summer camp and winter retreat center on the site, hosting up to 200…
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