Dust dispute lands Langseth clan back before Planning Commission
Lodge traffic, timing of dust control draw ire from Paul Langseth's brother and his family.
WORTHINGTON — Minutes before Wednesday night’s Nobles County Planning Commission meeting was slated to start, County Attorney Joe Sanow stood before the board, applicants and audience members to issue a cautionary statement.
“I understand there are very strong feelings regarding this conditional use permit,” Sanow announced. “The only matter of law we will be acting upon today is the dates for required dust control measures.
“This would potentially save time and conserve some of the oxygen in the room,” the attorney said.
The meeting was requested by Paul Langseth who, with his wife Leanne, own and operate the Langseth Lodge on Lake Ocheda’s east basin. He’s operated the lodge under a conditional use permit since 2020 — a permit granted despite opposition from Langseth’s nearest neighbors, who also happen to be his brother, sister-in-law, and adult niece and nephew.
According to the original permit, Langseth is required to apply dust control to 830 feet of 280th Street — specifically on 600 feet that spans the Al and Carol Langseth acreage, plus a combined 230 feet to the east and west.
Paul Langseth sought to amend the permit specific to timing of dust control application. The existing permit states he must have dust control applied prior to May 1. He requested it be changed to June 15 because his dust control provider doesn’t get product in until May 15. Langseth said application of the calcium chloride is temperature dependent — it must be warmer than 40 degrees — and dependent on spring weight restrictions on gravel roads for the delivery and application to be made.
This year, the calcium chloride was delivered and applied on Monday — three weeks later than Langseth’s permit requires.
“I don’t want to be out of compliance with the zoning board,” Langseth said of his request. “By allowing the later date, it will keep us in compliance but still keep the dust down.”
Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathy Henderschiedt said she visited the site a couple of weeks ago, on a rather dry day, and said she could see where the dust started and stopped, noting there was some residual dust control left from last year’s applications.
Of the proposed June 15 deadline, Langseth said it was just a date he came up with, and said, “It’s going to be down before then most times. We’ll put it down as soon as practical.”
Commission member Marty Rickers said a compromise was needed, noting June 15 seemed too late, while recognizing that perhaps May 1 was too early.
Meanwhile, commission member Dave VanderKooi — who uses dust control and hires the same Springfield-based contractor — said Langseth’s comments were accurate regarding temperatures and road conditions.
When the meeting opened to public comment, Jamie Langseth was the first to rise, saying she’d prepared a presentation and distributed a 10-page document to each Planning Commission member, as well as staff.
Again, Sanow reminded those present that the only thing to be voted on was the issue of dust control.
“If you believe there are other violations on the property, you have to notify the planning and zoning administrator,” Sanow said.
Jamie Langseth said dust control wasn’t applied until May 22 this year, and May 27 last year. She also noted that 940 feet of calcium chloride was applied this year, which was actually more than her uncle, Paul Langseth, was required to have in place. However, she contended the application started too far to the east of her family’s farm, and didn’t go far enough to the west. As a result, they still have dust issues.
Jamie told the commission the Langseth Lodge should not allow guests until dust control is applied in the spring.
“We want to do what we want to do on our property,” she said. “That’s very hard to do when you’re sucking down dust all day because your neighbor wants to own a motel.”
She went on to request the commission revoke the conditional use permit for the Langseth Lodge.
Sanow then stated that she would need to file a complaint with the planning and zoning office for that to be considered.
Jamie Langseth went on to raise several other issues, and not just with Paul Langseth’s lodging business — allegations regarding everything from licensing to taxes, illegal burning, a harassment restraining order against Paul’s stepson, firearms shot by lodge guests within 500 feet of the Al Langseth property, and even instances of Paul’s horses trespassing onto Al’s property and causing damage, as well as personal injury to Justin Langseth.
Carol Langseth said she was against anything that would delay dust control application to June 1 or later, unless the Langseth Lodge refrains from booking events until dust control is in place.
“We know there is a problem with our house; it’s not set back very far from the road,” she said, later adding, “It sounds like we’re being so petty. I’ve lived there for 47 years, and the dust has just been so unbelievable. People come there and want peace and quiet. Well, so do we. That is our home, it’s not our vacation; we’re not partying all weekend. And I want to be able to open my doors and windows.”
Justin Langseth said he counted 62 vehicles that drove past their property on May 20, creating a lot of dust while he was out working with cattle.
“There’s no reason (dust control) couldn’t have been put down,” he said. “It could have been put down a week ago, two weeks ago, a month ago if he just paid a contractor to do it.”
Al Langseth, who worked more than 20 years for Nobles County Environmental Services as its feedlot officer, said when the planning commission puts dust control as a condition on a permit for a gravel pit, the county doesn’t wait 30 or 45 days for them to apply dust control.
“Gravel pits are required to have dust control; they do not have a date that they have to have dust control down by,” responded Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathy Henderschiedt.
VanderKooi said the applicator covers seven or eight counties in southwest Minnesota.
“He’s a good guy; he’s probably stretched a little thin, but he can’t go out when it’s cold,” VanderKooi said. “He’s like everybody, they’re busy.”
He then suggested amending the permit to require Paul Langseth to have dust control in place on 280th Street by the Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
“If it can’t be done until after Memorial Day, Paul will have to put some water out — that’s dust control,” VanderKooi added.
As for the location of the application, Henderschiedt informed Paul that he will need to add more dust control to the west of the Al Langseth property to be compliant with his permit.
Paul Langseth said he will ask for another 100 feet of calcium chloride to be applied to the roadway for 100 feet farther west of the first application.
The commission gave preliminary approval to the permit amendment. It will now advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners on June 6 for final action.