After years of legal tussle, the state of Minnesota won a decisive courtroom battle that’s expected to shut down a popular Goodhue County campground, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported.
A judge on Feb. 3 approved a permanent injunction request made by the Minnesota Department of Health that effectively shuts down the 300-acre Hidden Valley campground. It has operated the last two camping seasons without the proper licenses after state and local officials identified numerous health and environmental concerns at the campground, which has been in operation since 1967.
Attempts to contact Hidden Valley owner Cory Axelson for comment were not successful. The campground’s phone number has apparently been disconnected, and he did not respond to an e-mail from the Post-Bulletin. Julie Nagorski, Axelson’s attorney, also did not return phone calls.
Hidden Valley has been under intense scrutiny for years because of frequent police calls, a nonfunctional septic system and other issues.
Last spring, Axelson was fined $10,000 by the state for operating without a license. Three months later, state officials found more than 100 occupied campsites during an inspection, according to Ehlinger’s lawsuit; a campground needs a license to host more than five campsites.
In 2011, an inspection by the Minnesota Department of Health found nine health violations, prompting the Goodhue County Board to revoke Hidden Valley’s conditional-use permit at the 200-site campground.
Losing the conditional-use permit has serious consequences in attempting to get it back. Hidden Valley was created six years before Minnesota adopted the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act in 1973, allowing it to avoid those restrictions through grandfathering. To obtain a new permit, Axelson would have to adjust the campround’s layout to comply with the setbacks established in the Scenic Rivers legislation.
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