Campground plan concerns neighborsPublished 8:35am Monday, February 18, 2013
Many Otter Tail Lake residents are still strongly opposed to a proposed 70-acre campground in the area, and question why a public input period would be held in the middle of winter, when many lake residents aren’t around.
Homestead at Otter Tail has applied for a conditional use permit to establish 185 camping sites on agricultural property near the junction of Highways 5 and 78. An Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) on the development was recently forwarded to the State Environmental Quality Board, and a public comment period on the information will be between Feb. 18 and March 20.
Dan Arnold has a lake home directly across from the proposed campground, and is concerned that the project will bring as many as 740 people a day to the site, which is comparable to the population of Battle Lake. Since the site is not on the lake, it would place a heavy burden on the public lake access, located one mile up the road from the proposed site.
“They will be using the lure of Otter Tail Lake to bring these people to the lake but will have no access and not be adding any facilities to help accommodate these campers when the access to the lake is already not large enough,” said Arnold.
Arnold added that putting 740 people across the street from the lake with no access will likely result in trespassing across private property.
Other residents have expressed concerns about invasive species issues with launching and loading boats and personal watercraft, traffic going to and from the public landing, and increased traffic and safety along County Road 5 and 295th Street, which are used by residents for walking, running and biking. Safety concerns along Highway 78 could pose a real problem.
“Entrances to Highway 78 are all dangerous even without additional traffic,” said resident Jan Nermoe, who also lives across from the proposed site. “Some lake residents have been told they cannot have a driveway off of Highway 78. Proposed restaurants have been told they can’t relocate to Otter Tail Lake along Highway 78 because of their turn being off Highway 78. Now, the petitioner is asking for 185 vehicles to turn off Highway 78 every time they enter this development.”
Overall, concerns seem to be sending a message that the Homestead is not a compatible use with single family lakeshore residences, the highway location, and an adjacent working farm.
“We bought our current lake lot in 2007,” said Nermoe. “We checked on the nearby zoning before we purchased the property. It was zoned agriculture/single family. The Swanbergs knew the zoning on their property before they acquired it from their family. Why should it be changed now just because they want it?”
The public comment period will start after the Environmental Quality Board publishes the notice of the completed EAW. From there, the proposal will go back to county commissioners for review, where the EAW can be revised or the county board could require that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared.