Minnesota briefs: Appeals court approves Aitkin County motorcycle course


According to a decision released last week by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, a motorcycle club will be able to proceed with plans for a single-track riding lesson in rural Aitkin County.

Several residents in the Sandstone area had appealed a decision by the County Planning Commission to grant the Norsemen Motorcycle Club a permit for a riding course on 180 wooded acres owned by the club. The club said it would not hold racing events at the site, but would use it for the recreational enjoyment of club members.

Residents had argued that motorcyclists would disrupt hunting, disturb their peace and damage the environment.

In its ruling, the court said the county followed proper procedures in granting the permit and noted that courts have traditionally given counties wide latitude in making decisions about such permits.

“The board’s decision … was not unreasonable, arbitrary or capricious,” the court wrote.



Grant awarded for an affordable housing project for seniors

Duluth’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) was recently chosen for a $13.9 million state housing infrastructure bond award. The money is earmarked for Skyridge Flats, affordable seniors’ housing in the Harbor Highlands development.

The 70 one-bedroom units will be rented to households whose income is equal to or less than 50% of the region’s median income and who are 55 years of age or older. Half of the units will benefit from a rental subsidy provided by the HRA and seven units will be reserved for qualified veterans experiencing homelessness. The remaining 35 units will have rents set to accept housing choice vouchers. “This project provides much-needed affordable housing in Duluth,” said HRA Executive Director Jill Keppers.

The total project cost is expected to be approximately $17.5 million. The Skyridge Flats award is the largest of its kind for senior housing in Minnesota this year. The HRA hopes to close funding for the project in the fall of 2022, with groundbreaking in the spring of 2023. Units are expected to be leased in 2024. The project joins several affordable senior housing developments planned in Duluth.



Air traffic surged at TRF Regional Airport

After dropping dramatically in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, air traffic at Thief River Falls Regional Airport has increased even more dramatically in 2021, reaching an all-time high in more of five years.

At its meeting last week, the city council received a traffic report from the airport. In 2020, the airport recorded 4,966 arrivals and departures, down 53% from 2019. In 2021, however, there were 13,730 arrivals and departures, a jump of 177% and the most in one year dating back to 2016.



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