DULUTH CITY COUNCIL
The city of Duluth has made
its decision on a Spirit Mountain golf course. Well, kind
City councilors failed late
Monday night to override Mayor Gary Doty's veto of their
July 8 vote to deny work permits for the proposed 272-acre
development between Interstate 35 and the St. Louis River.
Monday's five votes against
granting the permits followed the pattern of the council's
project-defeating decision two weeks ago, but fell one
vote shy of the necessary six votes the council would
need to override Doty's July 17 veto.
The 5-3 vote was not taken
until after 11 p.m. -- after the council suspended rules
and allowed the public to speak. All but one of the 26
citizens who spoke voiced displeasure with the golf course
The decision, or indecision
in this case, means that developers George Hovlund III
and Kent Oliver will be granted a city work permit for
the project on Aug. 1, barring any lawsuits.
Under state law, if the council
doesn't reject the work permit within 120 days, it is
Late last year, councilors
failed in a similar attempt to override Doty's veto after
they denied the permit.
"I'm not going to change the
rules just because some people oppose the project," Doty
On Monday, Hovlund said he
had followed all the requirements. "Now we're just waiting,"
Project opponents met last
Friday in a conference call to determine what steps they
would take if the council failed to override the veto.
In 2000, members of Duluth
chapter of the Izaak Walton League, the Gitche Gumee chapter
of Trout Unlimited, the Minnesota Center for Environmental
Advocacy and Nancy Nelson and Terry Brown, co-founders
of the West Skyline Preservation and Planning Alliance,
filed a lawsuit that eventually failed to block the golf
Members of that coalition
said Monday that another lawsuit was probably not in the
"We still believe the golf
course will not pass environmental review," said Mike
Furtman, a spokesman for the Duluth chapter of the Izaak
The plan to build a championship
18-hole golf course and lodge violates conditions set
when federal Land and Water Conservation grants were used
to create the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area in the early
The Minnesota Department of
Natural Resources and the National Park Service must sign
off before Hovlund and Oliver's development can move forward.
"We are concerned that the
DNR may take this vote as the City Council saying, 'We
can't agree, we give up,' " said Sharon Stevens, an executive
board member of Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club.
In February, state DNR Commissioner
Allen Garber told city leaders in a letter that he wasn't
sure what they really wanted and said he wouldn't devote
staff time to the issue.
Councilor Russ Stewart, who
voted to override Doty's veto, said the five councilors
who oppose the project may craft individual letters to
"They need some kind of signal,"
Councilor Ken Hogg -- thought
by some to be a possible swing vote -- joined Councilors
Jim Stauber and Rob Stenberg in upholding Doty's veto.
Councilors Stewart, Herb Bergson, Greg Gilbert, Donny
Ness and Russell Stover voted for an override of the veto.
Councilor Neill Atkins did not attend the meeting.