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Clifton: Man not giving up yet trying to obtain approval for stairway to river

Clifton town resident Peter Fox has tried for three years to come up with a plan for a stairway down to his dock on the St. Croix River that the county will approve for him to build.

"The ongoing saga of, 'How do we get to our dock on the St. Croix River?'" Fox called his situation as he appeared before Clifton Town Board at the May regular meeting.

Fox, N6461 1323rd St., said he'd applied for a conditional use permit in May 2008 for a wooden stairway but was denied by the county for reasons he was never told.

Fox said he has a shed full of lumber from that unrealized project.

Fox said he and his family have made due by using a rope tied to a tree and shimmying down the embankment.

He said they even tried using an extension ladder. When his daughter fell, he decided something had to be done.

Fox started by building a series of railroad ties into the hill and bringing in additional soil to take care of the erosion problem. He said this has worked "beautifully."

He wants to use a steel stairway called a ship's ladder to get down the embankment to his dock. He said the ladder would be securely bolted to steel plates on a solid surface at the top and bottom of the structure.

It has two handrails, is 176 inches tall with the handrails, rises at a 60-degree angle, has non-slip treads and would be bolted with one-half inch galvanized anchor bolts.

Fox also assured the Town Board that the stairway is OSHA approved and meets all safety regulations. He also feels the stairway meets Cedar St. Croix's ordinance concerning stairways down to the river.

Fox said that law says that any river stairways must be wood, stone or painted or stained in earth tone colors to blend in with the shore surroundings.

He said he would paint the ladder in camouflage earth-tones to ensure that it blends in and is inconspicuous.

"I feel it meets the regulations for Cedar St. Croix," Fox said.

He also said his stairway would be more difficult to see than many of his neighbors' stairways and motorized lifts that are already in place.

He also pointed out that the ladder will not disturb the vegetation or layout of the riverbank in any way.

"What makes you think they'll approve this when you were denied before?" Town Board Chairman Leroy Peterson asked.

Fox reiterated that he will paint the stairway to camouflage it. He also said the only way his ladder would not blend in is that there is no way to plant vegetation around it to disguise it since it's a temporary structure and will be brought in every winter.

Town Board Supervisor Greg Eggers said this stairway seems like a reasonable solution.

"The county is just asking us what we think," Eggers said. "The whole idea of the ordinances is to conserve the beauty of the riverway and this stairway is the least conspicuous. There's nothing in the codes that prevents us from approving it."

The Town Board agreed to recommend the approval of the ship's ladder to the county, contingent on Fox extending and reinforcing the steel-foot plates and painting it camouflage earth tones to blend with the surroundings.

Eggers also suggested that Fox add two more bolts to the bottom steel foot plate back further to make the ladder more secure.

In other Clifton Town Board business, the date for the Board of Review was set for Wednesday, June 29, with the open book session taking place 3:30-5:30 p.m. and the Board of Review being held 6-8 p.m.

A building permit was approved for a 30 by 50-foot pole shed for Dennis Handlos, W10963 State Hwy. 29.

A building permit for a new home in the Hidden Valley addition was approved for Kyle and Carrie Torgensen. The new home's address will be W11151 754th Ave.