South Long Lake Resort’s Proposed Storage Yard Removes County Barriers – Brainerd Dispatch

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A zoning change requested by a South Long Lake resort attracted the attention of citizens both for and against, but did not spark county council discussion before unanimous approval.

The land use change, sought by the owners of The Harbor on Crescent Bay, was one of two steps taken to make way for a commercial storage area near the resort property on County Road 23. While commercial storage sites are not permitted on properties zoned as a waterfront district, the Crow Wing County Zoning Ordinance permits such use on waterfront commercial properties with a conditional use permit.

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Owners Josh Young and Robert Young obtained permit approval from the Planning Commission/Board of Adjustment in mid-December. The commission also unanimously recommended that the county council approve the requested change to the land use map, which it did on December 29. However, none of these decisions were made without extensive public input. Environmental Services Supervisor Jake Frie reported that the county received more than 70 comments, split between those in favor or against the proposal.

Those who supported the Youngs’ application praised their management of the resort, with some pointing to significant improvements over previous ownership in guest behavior and land stewardship. Several of those supporting are summer residents at The Harbor on Crescent Bay and reported storage is badly needed for guests and the public.

The Port of Crescent Bay, a resort town on County Road 23 along Upper and Lower South Long Lakes, has won approval from Crow Wing County Council to rezone two nearby properties. This will allow the station to build an outdoor storage lot. Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

Those who expressed concerns about the application cited potential damage to the marshy shoreline along the plots in question, which they said could lead to environmental degradation and reduced water quality. Others wondered if the changes would be stepping stones to more ambitious development or expansion of resort ownership. Among the opposing comments were those from the Upper South Long Lake Improvement District as well as the Maple Grove Township Council.

Marco and Kathy Harroun, who said they camped at the resort for eight years, noted that the community was excited about the potential for a new storage area.

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“We desperately need additional space for storage and would like better access to Lake Superior (rather than public access),” the Harrouns’ comment said. “While plans for this are still very fluid, discussions within the station have been very positive.”

Bonnie Jaehning and Robert Welcher, also seasonal residents of the resort, said they wrote because they heard about the lack of support from some locals.

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A playground is one of the features of The Harbor on Crescent Bay, a resort town on County Highway 23 near Upper and Lower South Long Lakes. The resort recently received a conditional use permit and land use map amendment to construct an outdoor storage lot near its property. Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

“We believe the Harbor on Crescent Bay Resort and its owners, the Young family, are a valuable asset to the community,” their comment said. “We find them very respectful of the beauty of the lakes and the natural resources of the region. They are true guardians of these resources in the same way as the resort’s summer visitors.

On the other hand, Ruth Naber, president of the Lake Improvement District, said the owners knew the zoning when they bought the property and they could develop within those parameters. “It’s easy for them to say they would stick with their current plan of a few storage units and a nature trail, but plans may change later if rezoning is allowed,” Naber wrote. “We hope that planning and zoning will take this into account and the effect the development may have on the lake, as the adjacent wetland and shallow waters of this area of ​​the lake are ecologically fragile and important for aquatic organisms and the waterfowl.”

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Bruce and Joan Dybvig, longtime owners of the lake, said their opposition stemmed from concerns the rezoning could lead to future development into a marina or trailer park, similar to changes they had made to the property. current complex, or even to a new complex.

“Based on the lake shoreline of this parcel, each of these potential future uses would have devastating negative effects on Upper South Long Lake…wetlands, wildlife, shoreline weed preservation, even the fishing of the lake, to name a few,” wrote Bruce Dybvig. .

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The property’s zoning near Crescent Bay Harbor was recently rezoned from Coastal District to Waterfront Commercial to make way for an outdoor storage lot. Steve Kohls/Brainerd Dispatch

Despite concern over future plans, the application at issue did not involve any moorings, paths or near-shore disturbances, county officials say, and any future application would require another public hearing to amend the conditional use permit. . Instead, it was just outdoor storage, with no commercial buildings or structures. A planned gravel loop entrance would increase the impermeable area from 0% to 6.78%.

During the virtual planning commission meeting – which drew up to 70 attendees at a time – one of the candidates addressed some of the criticisms and concerns.

The claimant said that as waterfront property owners, they also care about the natural environment, which is one of the reasons they installed a “state-of-the-art” septic tank in the center of resort. He noted the importance of wetlands and bulrushes to the health of the lake and said they plan to leave all vegetation in place. He said he is in frequent contact with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to receive advice on best practices for shoreline management and will continue to be.

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In its findings of fact, the planning commission agreed that the reclassification was consistent with the objectives of the county’s comprehensive plan, in particular its encouragement of a diversity of businesses and the improvement of tourism and the quality of life for residents. .

“One of those strategies is to retain existing resorts; help them grow and improve to enable them to meet growing needs without degrading natural resources,” the findings state.

The commission also found that the facts supported granting the conditional use permit, noting that an approved stormwater management plan would be required and would mitigate the environmental impact. The permit requires the storage area to also be isolated from residential areas, reiterating that any expansion of the station would require a separate public hearing and approval process.

CHELSEY PERKINS can be reached at 218-855-5874 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter at

twitter.com/DispatchChelsey

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