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Mansion on the Hill Controversy Continues

SkylineMansion489572

Remember Beverly’s PDD post in April about the house that chewed its way into Duluth’s western Skyline?

There’s a resolution on next Monday’s Duluth City Council agenda requesting that no parking be allowed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on the pull-off area of Skyline Parkway near the house.

The resolution (09-0600R) is being proposed by Councilor Tony Cuneo.

“RESOLVED, that the city council hereby requests that the city administration, in accordance with the provisions of Section 33-97 of the Duluth City Code, 1959, as amended, establish no parking 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. at the following location: the pull-off area on the south side of Skyline Parkway 0.41 mile east of 40th Avenue West.”

Councilor Cuneo, by the way, has been doing his best to encourage the public to attend meetings and get involved in the process of adopting Duluth’s new zoning code.

Perhaps this code shouldn’t allow houses in places that cause everyone in the vicinity to freak out and wonder how in the world a house was built there.

67 Comments

Red Canoe

about 9 years ago

This is ridiculous.

Peanut

about 9 years ago

Can we all get a resolution proposed that restrict the hours someone can park near our houses?  I live by Burrito Union and would rather people didn't park in that parking lot after 10pm either, so...

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Have you seen the monster wall that was built?

SkylinePullOff4893572

Councilors will no doubt be told there's no reason to oppose this resolution, because the beautiful view that used to be there isn't there anymore. It's blocked. Therefore, there is no reason for anyone to park there now.

Of course, people could always stand on the rocks and look over the wall. The house doesn't block the view much.

E.

about 9 years ago

I say, "Let them have their cake, and eat sh-it too."

I live near the hospital, can I request that no life-flight helicopters land there between 10 and 6?

I have no sympathy for the a-holes that obviously have more money than brains, much less taste...and zero tact.

Camila

about 9 years ago

HAHA! Good one E.

Camila

about 9 years ago

PS. Cuneo should save some of his "best." He will need it to refrain from sponsoring resolutions like this in the future.

MJH

about 9 years ago

I think that the opposite should happen People should be encouraged to hang out and party near the zit on the hill. The place is an abomination and deserves to be treated as such.

zra

about 9 years ago

money = absolution.

huitz

about 9 years ago

"money = absolution"

Left hand assignment, or logical equality statement? :)

Ramos

about 9 years ago

Doggone it. If Cuneo criminalizes parking on Skyline, I'll have to go somewhere else to evade my taxes. What a pain.

zra

about 9 years ago

money = absolution in that these people obviously have enough of it that they've been able to have their way with just about everything having to do with constructing this house.

if the overlook closure is voted on and passed, even at the hours requested, i give it a year, max, before the homeowners lobby to have it closed altogether.

Anchor

about 9 years ago

Wasn't the parking area there before the house was there?  If they didn't want people parking near their mansion why didn't they build it somewhere else.  It is a PARKWAY afterall.

huitz

about 9 years ago

I agree, zra, but don't hold your breath.

Anchor, I've hiked around in that area for quite some time, and I'm surprised that some people haven't noticed that that real estate has been in the market for some time.  Nobody wanted to build anywhere around there because of the underlying basalt (so I've heard from gossip), so none of it would change hands, um, since, well, at least 1980 as far as I know.  I used to see weathered "For sale" signs all the time in that region.

Builders were able to stretch lower Hermantown into severe swampland after all.  Don't be surprised if you see a conglomeration of housing up by the "hill zit" 5 years from now.

mevdev

about 9 years ago

As long as they themselves in that huge mansion have big cocktail parties and invite everyone from PDD!

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

By the way, Councilor Cuneo's resolution is written to describe the area on Skyline in front of the house, as shown in the photo in the comment above.

HOWEVER:

According to an article in today's Duluth News Tribune, the owners of the home -- Bill Agenter and Karen Martichuski -- actually want night parking eliminated at Skyline's main parking lot, which is a short distance away. 

(This area is commonly referred to as "the Wall," but now that Agenter and Martichuski have built a wall in front of their house, that name is probably confusing.)

Cuneo told the News Tribune he's leaning toward not supporting his own resolution. 

I thought it was outrageous that they wanted parking restrictions in front of their house, but this latest information is just stunning.

It's actually kind of a relief to hear this, because it means there's no way the council will vote for this. (OK, the council did ban skateboarding in Canal Park, so it's capable of some pretty laughable actions, but this one would really be something.)

Barrett Chase

about 9 years ago

It's very similar to the mentality of the condos on the Lakewalk. "Gee, this public area sure is beautiful. I wish it was all mine. Think I'll spend millions to build a home next to it, then try to use my power and influence to force the public to take its rightful ownership away from itself."

Jeanine Dahl

about 9 years ago

That house and the wall put up to shield the public from sharing their view are a blight on the city -- a sickening example of conspicuous consumption.

If this resolution passes, let the revolt begin.

wildgoose

about 9 years ago

Why did Cuneo sponsor it in the first place if he might vote against it? Political theater?  To raise a ruckus about what I agree is a "zit" on the hill (and the threat of more as Huitz points out)?

Is that a common thing in legislative bodies?  I bet there's some brilliant poli sci student/unemployed teacher out there lurking who can tell us. I've never heard of such a thing before.

I don't understand politics sometimes.  No, make that -most- of the time.

girlfromnorthcountry

about 9 years ago

157 comments on this story on the DNT website in less than 3 hours.  Many encouraging Skyline Parkway drivers to declare this the new "Honking House" of Duluth?  I'm in.

Jeepers

about 9 years ago

I think I am going to take the long way home tonight, up Skyline and right past the new "Honking House".

mevdev

about 9 years ago

Back to the critical eye to the DNT, I do wonder how much they edit the comments. I really think that comments on newspaper sites are always banal and actually take away from the lure of real reporting.


Building a HUGE wall is no way to make friends.

Resolutionary

about 9 years ago

Thanks to Paul for sounding the alarm on the skyline resolution.  But the very existence of the honking house makes my stomach turn. I took the wild western hillside for granted. I figured it was undevelopable public space.

It makes me want to know: What is the status of other undeveloped land that is currently available to the public?  

Is there a land use map that has been created to identify ownership and protections of publicly-cherished development-vulnerable land?  Is there an organization that serves to monitor land transactions, zoning changes, and building permits?  Or to preemptively push for protections on this land before another arrogant homesteader or condo developer even zeros in on it?  Could we elect public officials that do what's in the best interest of the public rather than a single moneyed family? Maybe there's an opening here for the new citizen's news site?

I'm afraid, that in all but the most extreme cases, once the building starts the cause is lost.  But judging from the DNT comments running more than 10 to 1 opposed to the honking house ever being built, if the alarm is sounded in time, the public may have a chance to protect our interest even in a rigged system.

It gives me faith in democracy when elected officials quietly propose some terrible idea on behalf of a narrow interest, folks take notice and speak up, and then the same officials stand up and vehemently denounce and then vote against their own initiative.

Mary

about 9 years ago

I can understand why the homeowners are angry about the vandalism to their property...but maybe before they built the house, they should have considered its surroundings if they were so concerned about traffic/noise/teenagers/looky-loos.  If you don't want cars parking by your mansion, don't build it next to a scenic overlook in one of the most visible parts of town.  Duh.

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Resolutionary is honing in on the key point here. It's spelled out at the end of the main post.

Councilor Cuneo has been telling everyone for some time now that despite how boring working on an improved zoning code is, if people don't actively protect what they want protected, others have every right to build where the zoning code says they can build.

So, while it's fun to bitch about what has already happened, it's more practical to plan for the future.

Mary

about 9 years ago

So maybe some good will ultimately come out of this--judging by the DNT comments, this is really riling people up.  Maybe they'll pay more attention to the zoning crap now, and eyesores like this can be avoided in the future...

huitz

about 9 years ago

You see this type of thing quite frequently on sections of the Mississippi near Davenport, IA.  The houses are nice, but they still sit there in a regal splendor of obvious arrogance and, at times, lack of concern of the local ecosystem.  I'm sure it happens everywhere.

The whole king-of-the-hill fantasy is now-a-days a bit cheesy.

woodtick

about 9 years ago

Just have to mention this; part of the reason there has been literally no development up on the Wild West Hillside is the fact that the City of Duluth Public Works Dept. has no water access up there.  So, the well-heeled residents of the (what I like to call) 'Land Scar' had enough additional jing to drill through over 800 feet of solid North Shore Volcanic Basalt to access their water.  A well over 800 feet deep.  There will be more...

Resolutionary

about 9 years ago

So in the event a former reactionary resolved to collude with like-minded conservationists and public-space advocates to proactively improve the new zoning code prior to next summer's adoption, how might one get up to speed on the details of such a complicated endeavor?

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

Zoning code info is available at:
http://www.duluthmn.gov/planning/udc/

You can sign up for e-mail notices about meetings and whatnot.

davids

about 9 years ago

Duluth city gov has several commissions that work on these kinds of things regularly. Here's a the link to the list of committees/councils/commissions, etc. 
http://www.duluthmn.gov/clerk/boards_commissions/


I served briefly on the Environmental Advisory Council, and every time a piece of tax forfeit land came up for sale, the council looked at it in the context of overall greenspace and made recommendations about whether it should be sold (usually not advised and usually overruled).

I believe Parks and Rec commission is/was working on a greenspace recommendations based on the comp plan. There are many engaged citizens who have tried to advise against this kind of development. Most of that land above the western end of town has no status protecting it from development.

chris

about 9 years ago

I have no idea why Tony Cuneo would have sponsored this resolution, but I will take a guess.  The homeowners are his constituents, and maybe he actually knows them.  Perhaps he is just throwing it out there knowing damn well it has no chance of passing.  Especially if he doesn't support it himself.  The thought that these rich idiots could close The Wall is ludicrous.  And I love the idea of making this the honking house.

vicarious

about 9 years ago

Honking house? Which honking house?

Oh, you mean the honking house on Skyline Drive in Duluth, Minnesota. I LOVE the honking house on Skyline Drive in Duluth, Minnesota.

Every time I drive by the honking house on Skyline Drive in Duluth, Minnesota, I honk long at hard.

Becky M

about 9 years ago

HONKING HOUSE, HERE I COME, HORN A-BLAZING!!!!! 
You rich a-holes, go find something else to piss away your money on. I love Duluth, I am proud of the unbelievable beauty of this city, and no self-righteous sons-of-so-and-so's are going to ruin it for me and my family. As Duluthians, tourists, or just passersby, we all have a right to pull over at a designated area and enjoy the wonder and beauty of the Duluth skyline. (Hey, could that be why it's called Skyline PARKWAY?) If you don't want people parking by your house, don't build it by a parking lot! Morons.

kujawa

about 9 years ago

Those tools can suck it. I heard even Jesus hates rich folk.

NANCY

about 9 years ago

WOW!  It's unbelievable to me that people can be so selfish.  Whoever thought anyone would build a house there?  It's a boil on the beauiful face of Duluth.  I hope our city council is wise enough not to pass such an ordinance.  Everyone should e-mail council members and let them know how they feel.  I read somewhere that "it's a long way down from the height of arrogance".  Hopefully it's true.

tamara

about 9 years ago

Honking House - why not "freakin' awesome bullhorn" house?

zra

about 9 years ago

...one of the results of our highly hoped for light rail to the cities is going to be more honking houses...

zra

about 9 years ago

234 DNT comments now...

MG

about 9 years ago

"Zit" on the hill..........ha,ha,ha perfect description!

dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

Was it the city that built the wall obstructing the view from skyline drive? Whoever built it, that is absurd! Skyline Parkway is a jewel and deliberately  blocking the views defeats its main purpose.There's a good documentary DVD at the library called "Snively's Road, The History of Skyline Parkway" by Mark Ryan. 
    "I have seen nothing approaching it in this country, or in foreign lands in all my experience, for the purpose for which it is wanted--an absolutely perfect road, graded and macadamized by nature up nearly 500 feet above the level of the lake overlooking the city and commanding a view in every direction of its superb surrounds, that Duluth may well be proud of, and should not fail to show every visitor. The city, I think, should recognize that it holds such a gift of nature in trust--to develop it in every appropriate way."
----Olaf Benson, Chicago Landscape Engineer
http://www.amitycreek.com/sevenbridges/skyline1.html
HONK! HONK! HONK!

river

about 9 years ago

Just to clarify, the DNT quotes Cuneo as saying, "I don't have any real issues with councilors putting an idea by a citizen on the table for discussion...We should take requests and concerns from the citizens seriously, whether or not we support them."  Evidently the police contacted him with the homeowners' request for this resolution.

wildgoose

about 9 years ago

I agree Snively's road is an awesome Perfect Duluth documentary film.

oldknifey

about 9 years ago

Perfect Duluth Day: a "harsh critic" of that house up on Western Skyline.

That being said. I agree.

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

Once upon a time the wealthy in this town GAVE away money and personal property to improve the City and its greenspaces: Sam Snively, Bert Enger, William Paine, Charles Congdon, Guilford Hartley, the Wheeler Family, Julius Barnes--the list goes on and on. And many, many of these folks also served our city councilors/commissioners/mayor, and even state reps. Now it seems Duluth's wealthy do nothing but knock down historic structures, take public space away from everyone else, and ask the city to either pay for it through TIF zones and other DEDA financial backing or change the rules so they can get what they want, the rest of Duluth be damned.

dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

I just rode up there to see  THE WALL they built. Mother of God , the freakin' HUBRIS of those people. Sticking a tacky McMansion on the hillside is one thing, but having a commanding view wasn't enough , they had to steal the view of the lake and river valley from the rest of us. That SCENIC parkway has been there over 100 years and I doubt  anyone  has ever gone out of their  way to block the view skyline drive was meant to have, by constructing a fence that serves  no other purpose. Litterbugs throwing trash off Skyline Drive are a nuisance, but building that wall was vandalism on a much larger scale.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

Was there once a pull-off where THE WALL now stands? Did the city OK putting those huge boulders there? Are there zoning laws re: setbacks for fences like that?

Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

I think the huge boulders were put there by the city long ago, to prevent people from driving off the edge, house or no house. 

Incidentally, about a dozen years ago I was walking in that area and noticed a Dodge Dynasty at the bottom of the ravine next to where the Honking House is now. I went down to check it out and noticed a big rock on the gas pedal. I reported it, and it turned out to be a stolen.

PJ

about 9 years ago

I live in Lakeside and would like the scenic train to stop running on weekends when I am napping. Thanks!

Molly Bordeaux

about 9 years ago

I am from the Twin Cities and make frequent trips to Duluth with my family.  My most recent trip included a ride along the Skyline Drive two weekends ago.  I saw the house from the freeway and it looked attractive to me so I decided to meander up 40th Street to see more. The house didn't bother me AT ALL; in fact, what bothered me more was to drive a little further and see the most outstanding view in Duluth violated by beer cans, cigarettes, litter and shady characters.  This was at 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon!  I did NOT want my family with small children to get out of the car near that beautiful view because of the "dangerous" feelings we were experiencing. There was a shabby car with teenagers smoking and playing extremely loud music and the whole feel of the lookout was utterly disappointing other than the view.  So we turned around and went back past the glorious house and I had no problem allowing my grandchildren to view the vista from the top of the driveway of the home.  We were amazed by the house and the vista!  I was appalled that Duluth disregarded its jewel of a view only a short way down the road and was suprised that the City of Duluth didn't seem to care for its stunning byway.  You people in Duluth want to encourage a continued use of such a view for a party place for teenagers?  Good grief.  I would much rather see the city work on that area and make it a safer and more appealing place to visit with children.  The house is a plus! In fact, the overlook felt dirty and disgusting and after driving past the beautiful home, one would think there would be a "safe and well kept" overlook for visitors.  It made me think twice about who is in charge of Duluth's pristine views!  Here here to the owners of that beautiful mansion! I hope sometime in the future, the overlook will be maintained properly and given the respect is so deserves. Then, visitors that explore your city can do so without feelings of imminent danger.  They can drive by a stunning home and appreciate a magnificant vista at the same time. Shame on the City of Duluth for being so lax with their greatest commodity.

edgeways

about 9 years ago

oh noes teenagers. 

I'm trying not to be all snarky Molly, so I better stop now.

Barrett Chase

about 9 years ago

Molly, you're saying the people you encountered should be rousted by the police ... for what crime exactly? For being teenagers? For smoking? For playing their car radio? 

Many of us in Duluth are concerned with keeping public areas public, and if that means people like you will have to be uncomfortable in the presence of people of a different class, well that's your problem. I'm sad to hear you felt "unsafe," but I'd guess that's because of your sheltered suburban lifestyle, not because of any actual danger.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

When I went up to that pull-off to photograph the separation barrier I picked up all the trash. It  should be cleaner for a little while- c'mon back. Littering is already a crime . You were amazed by the view Molly? Did you see what the home owners did to part of the view with their wall?

zra

about 9 years ago

Leave it to someone from the cities...someone who doesn't have to look at this thing every day...to admonish the rest of us (who live here. year round.) for bemoaning the loss of greenspace and the scarring of an otherwise beautiful uphill view of the hillside.

The city has already seen fit to rout those same teenagers from Canal Park...perhaps you'd prefer them to stay at home when you visit?

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

I forgot to mention- when I was up there I met a guy who used to work for the City Parks and Rec. Dept. He lost his job last year. He said it was a lot cleaner up there before the cutbacks.

Chester Dark

about 9 years ago

new band name = "Molly and the Dangerous Feelings"

GingerBliss

about 9 years ago

Wasn't the Skyline supposed to be preserved?  That house needs to just slide down the hill so we can have a "house warming" party.  Can someone with money please do the right thing in this city and give back instead of taking?

GingerBliss

about 9 years ago

Molly, bring a garbage bag next time.   That would set more of an example then being scared of something that doesn't exist.  Mansions don't belong on our skyline, trees do!!

HoseDragger

about 9 years ago

Oh yeah great idea.......insist on tourists to pick up trash our fine citizenry throws around.

And Sorensen is pissed because someone owns property and erects a fence that deprives him of his view. Classic I tell ya.

Dave Sorensen

about 9 years ago

If it was only my view being affected this wouldn't be an issue. Skyline Parkway is a National Scenic Byway and that wall took the scene out of scenic. This is about the quality of life for residents and preserving the best of Duluth for tourists as well. 

http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2009/09/30/more-on-skyline-parkway/

http://www.perfectduluthday.com/2009/09/27/where-in-duluth-6/

zra

about 9 years ago

@ HorseDragger: no more "classic" than arrogantly insisting that only *you* are privvy to that scenery.

GingerBliss

about 9 years ago

It was an awful reason to not visit that section of the parkway, it is a public place and if we avoided places that were littered we wouldn't walk around our own house.  It was sarcastic.

huitz

about 9 years ago

Like I've mentioned before.  That area has been for sale for quite some time (as far as I know).  Probably a left over from days when we were so willing to drop so-called "prime" real estate on people.

Maybe it's another San Fran phenom. Or people like to think they're in the French Riviera (as long as we spray for bugs).

Definitely silly, because that part of skyline happens to be some of the best views (there are much better parts, but if I tell, I'd have to kill the real estate agent) :)

Mary

about 9 years ago

You know that if you had the money to build an amazing house, you would also want an amazing view. The man who owns that house is a wonderful man. I bought his house that he used to live in and its really sad that everyone is badmouthing him. STOP!
Its one house- so go to another spot on the scenic byway and look. Stop complaining about it.

Mary

about 9 years ago

Is it dredge-up-things-no-one's-commented-on-in-six-months night or something?

Tony D.

about 9 years ago

mary:

Just because you bought his old house and think he's a wonderful man--as he may well be--does not mean that he didn't pull a completely thoughtless act and try to use his money to prevent other Duluthians from enjoying a road and overlook that this City's citizens built (some with their own time and money, not the City's) for ALL its people to enjoy, not just its wealthy ones. Building that house in that location, then a wall, then demanding that the city change ordinances because they don't want the rest of us enjoying the view from that location as it might disturb him, that's not the move of a wonderful man. That's the move of a selfish jerk who apparently thinks his money entitles him to whatever he wants, everyone else be damned. 

Yes, if I had the money I would want an amazing view, but I love and respect this town, so I wouldn't have corrupted Skyline Parkway for my own, selfish enjoyment. There are plenty of existing house for sale in Duluth that have amazing views. And heck, you don't even have to be rich to buy a house with an amazing view.

zra

about 9 years ago

More of the same "This view would look so much better with a big fucking house in it" Citiot mentality.

Kevin

about 9 years ago

Foul on Mary for excessive hyphenation.

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