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Veterans cemetery at golf course gets first go-ahead

WILLMAR -- A cemetery for military veterans, which would be tucked among the greens of a golf course that's also dedicated to military members, got the first nod of approval Monday by the Kandiyohi County Planning Commission.

It would be the first of its kind, Marlyn Marquardt told the advisory committee, in explaining his proposal.

People can "visit their loved ones when they're playing golf," said Marquardt, who admitted the idea may seem odd to some. He said his proposal makes sense once people understand the overall purpose.

Marquardt said there is room for 150 to 300 burial plots on the 20-acre golf course, Mar-Haven Greens, he owns on the northern edge of Kandiyohi County, near Belgrade. The number of plots depends on whether full-body burial or cremation is used, he said.

The nine-hole golf course is divided into areas to commemorate different wars American troops have participated in, Marquardt said. The course includes a six-hole golf course specially designed for veterans with disabilities, as well as a memorial park.

In a map he displayed during the hearing for a conditional use permit, Marquardt pointed out different areas on the golf course for burial spots that correspond with the different wars.

Marquardt, a U.S. Navy veteran, said those who fought in wars want to be buried alongside others who served in the same war.

Richard Larson, who is a member of the Planning Commission and the Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners, said he respected Marquardt's plan, but said he'd prefer to see the burial plots clustered together in one spot rather than scattered around the golf course.

The planning commission had concerns about the perpetual maintenance of the cemetery. It's possible state law would require the county to maintain the cemetery if it were abandoned or neglected in the future.

Marquardt said he, or someone from his family, would always own the land and would maintain the golf course and cemetery. There will be no headstones, he said, so maintenance wouldn't be that difficult.

He said the revenue raised from the cemetery would help fund the golf course, which hasn't generated the membership he'd hoped it would.

Gary Geer, zoning administrator, said a cemetery is an acceptable use for ag land and he recommended approval of the conditional use permit. He said Marquardt would have to meet additional state statutes and obtain permits before any burials could take place there. The proposal was unanimously approved. The county commissioners will take final action on the conditional use permit Oct. 16.

Larson said he wanted additional information from the county attorney about the perpetual care aspect before the county commissioners take action next week.

The Planning Commission also approved a conditional use permit for a feedlot in Roseland Township for an expansion of a dairy heifer operation, and they approved a permit for a new confinement swine barn in Holland Township.

A preliminary plat proposed by Stan Block for a commercial lot in a commercial/industrial district in Green Lake Township was approved. Block intends to sell the land to a business.

Two neighbors, who testified at the hearing, objected to items that are being stored on Block's commercial property in the same area. They said a house on blocks and an old motor home are some of the "collectibles" on the property that are giving their neighborhood a bad look.

When Block received a permit this spring for his business to sell secondhand items, he was told most of the items had to be stored indoors or behind a fence.

Geer said complaints about Block's property should be directed to the zoning office.