ELY— The proposed RV park expansion near Miner’s Lake will require the completion of an environmental assessment worksheet, or EAW, after all and that determination led the board of …
ELY— The proposed RV park expansion near Miner’s Lake will require the completion of an environmental assessment worksheet, or EAW, after all and that determination led the board of adjustment to postpone action on a conditional use permit application for the park last month.
It was the third time that a hearing on the permit application from AOK Outdoors was set and then postponed without a resolution.
The proposed RV park and campground expansion is being proposed by Dean and Lee Ann Peterson, owners of AOK Outdoors. The property along Miners Lake has been zoned as shoreline mixed use (MSU) since 1994 and was zoned as commercial prior to that. The property is the site of the former Sibley Mine.
Ely’s SMU zoning currently requires that campgrounds and RV parks must obtain a CUP in order to operate. AOK withdrew an initial proposal filed in late summer and submitted a more detailed version on Oct. 19, but it lacked an EAW.
It was initially unclear whether an EAW was required, since state law mandates an EAW for most RV park proposals only require an EAW if they include the construction of 50 sites or more. The AOK proposal calls for the creation of 23 new RV sites along with five new cabins, and nine tent sites, stating that the layout of the RV park will use less than 50 percent of the property. That’s in addition to the eight RV sites already on the site.
While the proposal initially seemed to be under the limit for a mandatory EAW, after further review, city officials realized that the proposal fell under the rules for a sensitive shoreline, which have tighter restrictions.
In an email communication with the Timberjay, Ely’s Planning and Zoning Administrator, Scott Kochendorfer, stated, “It was determined that an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) was necessary based on the scope of the project. Therefore, without that, the application in its current (form), is incomplete.”
After further inquiries, Kochendorfer told the Timberjay that the city received “conflicting information” from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is responsible for shoreline regulations. Despite the contradictory information, the city determined an EAW was necessary because Miners Like is actually a “sensitive shoreline area.”
The relevant state rule states an EAW is required if a campground or RV park builds or adds “25 or more units or sites in a sensitive shoreland area. The city’s determination hinges on what is considered sensitive shoreline. On its website, “DNR does not include Miners Lakes on its list of sensitive shoreline areas,” Kochendorfer explained, “however, Miners Lake is designated as a trout lake, and trout lakes in Minnesota are considered sensitive shoreline areas.”