Otter Tail County Commission cancels environmental study for Loon Lake Resort expansion


Neighbors opposed to the Loon Lake Resort expansion had requested a review through the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board, citing concerns over the number of proposed campsites, degradation of wetlands, invasive species, overdevelopment, traffic excessive boats and water quality.

The commissioners dismissed their objections, saying many sites will be located further from the lake and are well below the number allowed by state and local shoreline requirements. Loon Lake is already infested with zebra mussels, they said, and the county is not about to start controlling the number of boats allowed in a lake, given the county’s many lakes.

The county had previously forced the station at 32053 Loon Drive in Candor Township to limit its expansion. He had requested a total of 47 dock slips, but the county limited him to the existing 31. He plans to add 48 housing units, bringing the total housing units to 70.

Opponents said they realized the county did not have to complete an environmental assessment worksheet because it did not meet the threshold of 50 new units. However, their petition indicated that the total of new and old campsites would exceed the 50 required for a mandatory environmental assessment.

Their petition cited Minnesota case law allowing local government to take existing units into account when deciding whether to order an environmental review for a proposed expansion.

“The whole development must be considered as well as the cumulative impacts of the increasing pressure on the shores of the lake and on public resources,” the petition states.

Tami Norgard, a Fargo lawyer representing the neighbors, said the development could worsen the algae problems on the lake, and that the algae problems indicate that the wetlands are already taxed to the limit and unable to filter the contaminants and excessive nutrients. However, Land and Resource Manager Chris LeClair argued that it was the heat, not the development, that caused the algae blooms, and that he had seen many photos taken throughout. year that showed no algae.

“This is not a place for the county to allow additional density, exacerbating what is already clearly a problem,” the petition says. “The increased development will further reduce the functionality of wetlands. The increased intensity of shipping will affect the shallow bay areas of Loon Lake, which will affect water quality and spawning of various species of fish.

Loon Lake consists of five sub-lakes connected by narrow canals, as well as two shallow bays. One of the sub-lakes, East Loon, contains five islands. Its shape gives it so much shore, but neighbors say it has less navigable surface.

“Loon Lake is not at all like Pelican Lake, Ottertail Lake, Detroit Lakes or Cormorant, all of which can accommodate a larger number of pleasure craft,” their petition said. “It is surprising to realize that there are similar amounts of developable shoreline on Loon Lake as these other lakes, but Loon Lake has a small fraction of the actual navigable area on the lake given the many ripples in the lake. and out of bays and narrow passages. “

For example, Loon Lake has 1,048 acres and 17 miles of shoreline, while Otter Tail Lake has 13,725 acres and nearly 22 miles of shoreline, and Rush Lake has 5,275 acres of water and just under 16 miles of shoreline. .

However, Commissioner Wayne Johnson said he felt the shape of the lake would hamper development as the shoreline would create chunks of land less suitable for construction.

They asked for a boat study which they said would indicate that Loon Lake could not support great development. However, the commissioners said it was beyond their ability to limit the number of boats on a lake, given the county has more than 1,000 lakes.

“In a county with over 1,000 lakes, that further increases this impracticality,” said Commissioner Kurt Mortenson.

Fingerprint costs are rising

Fingerprints through the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office will cost more. After Sheriff Barry Fitzgibbons told Commissioners the costs associated with the practice had increased, they agreed to increase the price from $ 15 to $ 20. Pre-hire teachers and social workers, as well as out-of-state gun license applicants, are among those whose fingerprints are taken. Fitzgibbons said his office does about 20 fingerprints per week.

Pelican Rapids Pool Support

The commissioners will support Pelican Rapids in its request for a state grant to build a new swimming pool. The current pool is leaking 1,000 gallons of water a day, Johnson told commissioners. The city raised $ 2.6 million locally for the new pool. The commissioners will send a letter to the state supporting the city’s grant application.


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