Minnesota Town Rejects Campground Plan

September 21, 2009 by   - () Leave a Comment

A proposed recreational vehicle campground that has been tied up for two years in government agencies and court was recently denied by the Otter Tail County Board in Fergus Falls, Minn.

Pierre duCharme proposed a 30-unit RV campground on the west arm of Star Lake, east of Pelican Rapids, according to the Fergus Falls Daily Journal.

The county board unanimously denied the project based on its potential environmental impact, the density of the project and lack of adequate lot area and water frontage.

Following the vote, duCharme told the commissioners he would see them in court.

About 20 people attended the hearing on the project. Several letters opposing the project were received by the county board, as well as a petition signed by 22 people opposing the project.

DuCharme’s attorney, Chuck Krekelberg, told the board he believed the issue was closed because his client had already agreed to a settlement proposed by the county’s attorney on the issue, Jay Squires of Minnesota Counties Insurance Trust. He also noted that he and his client weren’t given notice of Tuesday’s hearing.

When asked to explain, Land and Resource Director Bill Kalar said he was contacted by Squires, who requested Kalar compile a chronology of the project and a list of concerns duCharme would need to remedy in the plan for it to be approved.

Kalar said he sent the requested information to Squires with the belief that it would be used for discussion purposes only. He added that he knows he doesn’t have the authority to offer a settlement and said he was surprised to hear of the settlement. He noted that he hasn’t heard from Squires since he sent the information.

County Attorney David Hauser directed the commissioners to decide based on the plan as it was presented to the board instead of deciding on the potential settlement.

At issue was access to Star Lake from the proposed campground. In the revised plan, the boat slips had been taken out, eliminating any access to the lake.

Commissioner Lee Rogness questioned why anyone would visit the campground if there wasn’t any lake access. Krekelberg said there are two public boat ramps on the lake. Rogness responded that the they will be using the lake if there are public accesses.

Commissioner Doug Huebsch said his concern was the west arm of Star Lake being environmentally fragile whether its classified as a general development or natural environment lake.

“On the most fragile part of the lake, the density is already overboard,” Huebsch said.

Glen Shaw, who lives on Star Lake, spoke Tuesday on behalf of residents who opposed the project. Their concern was the potential for an increased amount of boat traffic on a portion of Star Lake that has the characteristics of a natural environment lake, Shaw said. The development would put more pressure on the lake, he said, adding that an 18-unit RV park was built next door to the proposed 30-unit RV park.

If the county board didn’t deny the project, opponents believed the county board would set a precedent that a person could have a decision overturned on a technicality, Shaw concluded.

This is the third time the county board has heard the issue. Following the first time, the county board approved to send the project back to the planning commission to rehear the issue. The county board denied the project during the second hearing.

Following that denial, duCharme appealed the decision. The Court of Appeals sent the project back to the county board. The remand was due to the board denying the project using the original proposed project and not the revised project and also failure to give specific reasons for the denial.


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