Board passes decision on RV parkPublished 11:24am Wednesday, June 5, 2013 Updated 12:14pm Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Skeptical eyes watched from the public area while county commissioners accepted a recommendation to approve the RV park development near Otter Tail Lake Tuesday.
The proposed development, Homestead at Otter Tail RV Park and Resort, has been a heated topic for nearly two years.
People were noticeably tense just before the final decision, but the Otter Tail County Board finally approved a modified plan for the development, dropping the number of RV units to 148 from 185, limiting use of a proposed pavilion to small groups only, and said a watercraft decontamination unit must be constructed to prevent the spread of invasive species. The development covers nearly 70 acres of land by the junction of County Road 5 and State Highway 78.
Residents, who have expressed concern throughout the process regarding the size and location of the resort, argued it would increase traffic and noise, and they were well represented at Tuesday’s meeting.
Some expressed their frustration as they exited the meeting room after the board’s decision.
“I was disappointed they didn’t read much into the concern of our group’s letter,” said Jan Nermoe, chairwoman of the Friends of Otter Tail Lake, which opposed the project. “We spent a lot of time trying to think about it from both sides.”
The group still had several issues with the development, despite the committee’s modifications, according to Nermoe. The group also felt economic development was favored over ecology and the concerns of existing homeowners.
“It’s frustration and it’s disappointment,” Nermoe said. “It’s setting a pretty loose precedent for developing the second tier of land around Otter Tail Lake.
The Swanburgs, however, found the outcome a fair compromise. While they would have liked the full scale of the original project, they are happy to finally move forward.
“Everyone is doing their job and asking questions,” Beth said. “We’ve tried to address all the concerns that they’ve had and we’re going to continue to be diligent in taking care of the land and the county.”
Their family has owned the farmland for three generations, and the couple said they hope the development will extend its use.
“We don’t want to do anything that is going to destroy our property. It means an awful lot to us,” Greg said. “We want to enhance the property and the area to be an active part of the community.”
Despite the rocky start, the Swanburgs said they believe those against the project will eventually see the positive impact a new resort business will have on the community. For now, they will do their part to make sure it is appropriately built and used in the proper fashion.
“We firmly believe that once we get it up and running and we are good neighbors, five years down the road a lot of this will be behind,” Greg said. “It’s a little heated right now, but things get better.”
The Swanburgs will build the resort in three stages over five years. They want to complete the first stage this year and host a grand opening in next spring.