Lake Independence embellishes Sun Country plane

Sun Press Newspapers

A Sun Country airliner will display paintings of Lake Independence, one outside on the body of the plane and the other inside the plane near the front.

Independence Mayor Marvin Johnson, Tuesday, April 11, brought the news to the Independence City Council. He leaned over, grabbed a framed poster of the painting and hoisted it for everyone to see.

Johnson said Sun Country Airlines invited him to its hangar earlier that day and then surprised him with the aquatically decorated plane, the framed poster, brochures about Independence and the story behind the picture. The airline had commissioned an artist, who toured 29 lakes, did sketches and decided what scenes would be used on each of 29 planes. Mayors of cities adjacent to the lakes are getting similar surprises from the airline.

The framed poster of Lake Independence is on display at Independence City Hall.

On April 11, the City Council also approved two requests from Independence property owners.

The council approved a conditional use permit that allows Jay Lorek to construct an accessory dwelling unit within an existing detached accessory building located at 990 County Road 92 N. The 513 square foot dwelling would be located in the back corner of the accessory building and have its own entrance.

“Accessory dwelling unit” is the term Independence uses for a mother-in-law type dwelling. It must be subordinate in size from the principle structure on the property. This use is allowed in Rural Residential and Agricultural zoning districts.

The Lorek property spans 4.85 acres in the Agricultural zone. Both a house and an accessory building sit on the property. Lorek uses the accessory building as a garage and an unfinished all-purpose space. He plans to construct living quarters for his elderly father within the accessory building. The remodeled area would contain a living space and bedroom, full bath and kitchen facilities. The father currently lives in the Lorek home.

The City Council approved a request for front yard and side-yard-setback variances for property at 4530 Lake Sarah Drive South. The council’s action enables James and Alison Conely to add a third stall to their existing detached garage.

City Councilor Brad Spencer explained the Conelys’ request. Their property once was part of a larger property owned by Tom Emmer. He sold the property and moved to Delano. After he left, the property was subdivided in “a unique fashion.” The Conely portion is not located on the lakeshore, but it is located on a corner. Setbacks on a corner lot “can be more onerous” than setbacks on a typical piece of property.
The Conely property spans 1.03 acres in a Rural Residential zone. In order to expand the garage, the couple needs a front yard setback of 38 feet from the right of way (variance of 13 feet) and a corner yard setback of 37 feet from the right of way (variance of 14 feet).

Spencer said the Conelys have an “amazing” lilac privacy hedge that screens the garage from the neighboring property.


Earlier in the evening, the Independence City Council held a joint meeting with the Maple Plain City Council. The two councils watched the administration of oaths of office to two new patrol officers, Aaron Geddes and Shawn Ebeling, who have joined the West Hennepin Public Safety Department. WHPS provides law enforcement services to both cities.