TOWER- About two dozen Tower residents, mostly from Mill Point, attended a public hearing here on Tuesday to voice their concerns about a proposed new RV park, planned for Pike Bay, just west of the …
TOWER- About two dozen Tower residents, mostly from Mill Point, attended a public hearing here on Tuesday to voice their concerns about a proposed new RV park, planned for Pike Bay, just west of the Standing Bear Marina. Project proposer Justin Renner is seeking a conditional use permit for the facility and the hearing, conducted by the Tower Planning and Zoning Commission, is required as part of the permit process.
The board will meet again on Tuesday, Aug. 10 to discuss what conditions to add to a potential permit and prepare findings of fact that it can forward to the city council. The planning and zoning commission can recommend action on the CUP application, but the city council has the ultimately decision-making authority.
Findings would establish the basis for a decision on the CUP, which would include whether the project meets the standards of the city’s ordinance. The permit would also be an opportunity for the city to establish conditions on the project to address concerns raised by neighbors.
Tony Jeffries, a planning consultant hired by the city, said that city zoning clearly allows the establishment of a RV park in the area now owned by Renner, but he urged the commission not to make a decision at Tuesday’s meeting. “The commission is willing and ready to move on this, but this evening may not be the best time to do that,” he said.
Chris Ismil, part of the development team at the Department of Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation, said that the board should research conditions set on CUPs for other area RV park projects. Renner is seeking development assistance from the IRRR for his project.
Mill Point Plat residents, who are situated on the opposite shore of the river on Pike Bay, expressed concerns over noise, increased boat traffic, and screening. They are also concerned about a second, much closer RV park owned by Dave Rose, now under construction, which is adjacent to their plat.
Renner told them that the exact placement of the RV sites will be determined by the costs and feasibility of doing wetland mitigation. His 58-acre site, while mostly level and open, has a large percentage of wetlands due to soil composition, with about nine acres considered high ground. If financially feasible, he said, they are looking at moving the 12 sites closest to the lake back from the shoreline.
“The further back from the lake would be the best as far as noise,” said Joan Broten, speaking for residents of Mill Point.
“Mill Point Plat residents want good development,” she said, “and we want it done right. The current [Rose RV Park] isn’t being done right and is affecting our neighborhood.”
Broten said she and her neighbors aren’t sure if they can trust that this new RV park will follow city ordinances and that the city can effectively manage the process.
Broten also asked if it was possible to do a study to determine the capacity for RV parks in the immediate area.
While many of the Mill Point Plat residents in the audience said they agreed with Broten’s concerns, others in the audience expressed support for the project.
Al Kirkpatrick said he would like to reassure everyone in the audience that he has worked with Renner for years, and that Renner is “100-percent willing to do what is right.”
Tod Van Norman, who manages Your Boat Club marina, which is adjacent to the Renner property, said they are looking forward to working with Renner.
“He has a great plan,” Norman said, although he also said the project needs to be done right to protect the environment.
Barb Rinne said that the discussion had been very helpful.
“I support Justin’s project,” she said. “It looks like he is off to a good start.”
Renner said he is hoping that his customers will use the marina facility at Your Boat Club for docking and lake access, though his plan does include local docking. He said the shallow waters on Pike Bay in front of his property are not ideal for boat launching, so using the East Two River access makes more sense.
Ismil talked briefly about the economic impacts the IRRR has seen with other RV parks they have helped fund, including the new Black Beach Campground in Silver Bay. The increased local traffic from that business, he said, helped create enough demand to sustain a local grocery store, as well as a new restaurant and gas station.
Whether or not Renner’s project could connect to city sewer is still an open question. They city has requested quotes on extending its sewer main, and the IRRR has expressed interest in helping to fund the project, but whether or not it will be financially feasible is yet to be determined.
Ismil urged the planning and zoning board to move forward on the CUP as quickly as possible, because the IRRR will be meeting in late August or early September, at which time it would consider granting funding for a sewer extension. Renner has already secured bank financing for his project and is working with an engineering firm on other details, such as wetland mitigation and septic planning. The IRRR is a funding partner on the project, said Ismil, and can assist with funding for infrastructure and wetland credits.
Renner is hoping to begin work on the project this fall and be ready for business next summer.