County Board decides on OT Lake accessPublished 11:15am Wednesday, July 25, 2012
After months of negotiations and public meetings, Otter Tail County commissioners decided Lake Street is not an impassable road and did not direct Otter Tail Township to take it over.
Lake Street is a platted road on the south side of Otter Tail Lake. Several residents claimed they had used this road in the past, but one of the adjacent property owners blocked the road’s access to the lake.
While the board’s decision doesn’t specifically prohibit the use of Lake Street as a boat access, several commissioners expressed concerns about this issue.
“I would rather not see it used as a public access,” commissioner Doug Huebsch said. “Having all of these points of entry open to the lake hurts in the battle against aquatic invasive species.”
The underlying land is owned by two adjacent property owners and the road is not maintained by any road authority; however, because it is a platted road, it is subject to easement rights of the public.
The board had the authority to direct the township to take over the road but instead decided to let it remain a cartway with no road authority.
The board made it clear that Lake Street is a cartway and must be treated as such. Blocking the cartway will be considered a violation. This means property owners can’t store waterfront equipment on Lake Street in the winter because it would block snowmobile access. At the same time, having a picnic on the road would also be considered blocking the cartway.
The County Board’s decision orders two things:
• That Otter Tail County does not order Otter Tail Township to open up Lake Street as a township road.
• That Otter Tail County Land and Resource Management may issue a grade and fill permit to make a 10 foot wide gravel driving surface, as a continuation of the existing gravel surface as close as is practical on the north side of the trees.”
The board clarified that the second point says “may issue a grade and fill permit,” not “must issue a grade and fill permit.” Before any grading and filling can be done, the plan must first be brought to the board for approval.