Duluth Resort Owner to Rebuild after Fire, Zoning Headaches
Posted at: 10/11/2013 5:37 PM
| Updated at: 10/11/2013 5:47 PM
A Duluth resort is empty following a July fire. Until Friday afternoon, the owner thought he wouldn't be able to rebuild.
The Lake Breeze Motel Resort lost the office and five of its 19 rooms to the fire, according to Owner Ken Hughes. He said it also injured his wife, who is still recovering.
Earlier this week, Hughes said the the City of Duluth told him he wouldn't be able to rebuild because of a zoning change. He said the land his resort sits on used to be zoned "commercial," but switched to "residential" a few years ago.
According to Hughes, the city told him that because of the damage his property was no longer grandfathered in, and therefore the rooms could not be rebuilt and the resort could not operate again.
Here's how Hughes told us he reacted: "Total shock, first. Speechless. Wasn't sure what to say. My wife kind of looked at me and I looked at her and said 'well this can't be right.'"
After Eyewitness News made several calls and stopped by City Hall, Keith Hamre, the director of planning and construction services, said the situation hadn't been fully investigated. He said Hughes could rebuild as long as the new structure is not any bigger than the one destroyed.
Hughes was relieved when we visited with him later in the day. But he had still described a having a tough summer. "We haven't made any money. We've actually had to give back deposits that people put down on rooms for the summer," he said.
According to Hughes, he had to cancel three weddings as well. "You've got to call a bride and tell her that this cannot happen. That was hard for us."
Hughes is working on getting the correct permits to rebuild.