CRANE LAKE- A proposed 10-slot RV park in Crane Lake got a conditional green light from the St. Louis County Planning Commission last week over the objections of several property owners who weighed …
CRANE LAKE- A proposed 10-slot RV park in Crane Lake got a conditional green light from the St. Louis County Planning Commission last week over the objections of several property owners who weighed in with their concerns.
The developer, Drake Dill, is certainly no stranger to Crane Lake. He’s the son of the noted late state legislator David Dill, and he and his wife, Whitney, moved back to the area last year when Dill took on a position with an International Falls bank.
“We’re from Crane Lake originally,” Dill told the Timberjay then. “I grew up on an island in Crane Lake, and I’m a graduate of Orr High School. My family has been in this area since the early 1900’s – it’s home.”
Under the umbrella of COC Properties LLC, Dill purchased properties at 7511 and 7505 Gold Coast Road, as well as three smaller irregular tracts, in April, and he’s been pursuing the idea of creating an RV park there ever since.
“My wife and young son and I would like to come back and make a go of it and carve out a living on Crane Lake,” Dill told planning commission members at the Aug. 12 meeting, which also was accessible virtually.
Dill’s proposal has garnered support from the township board, the Crane Lake Sewer and Water District, and other residents who are interested in bringing more business and visitors and development to the little lakeside community.
“We are writing this letter in support of the Cabins on Crane RV site permit,” said a letter in the planning commission packet from Paul, Sarah, and David Tufte, of Norway Lodge Resort and RV, a neighboring operator. “This property has been a commercial resort property for many years and would be well suited for this use. Crane Lake has a need for more RV sites. More RV sites will mean more tourism for Crane Lake. This will benefit other local businesses and also generate revenue for the town, county, and state.”
Those themes carried through other letters and comments, but another faction of residents registered serious concerns in opposing the conditional use permit.
Wendy and David Blaeser, who live across the street from the proposed RV park, described problems they believed would arise from having the additional RVs and accompanying watercraft using the park.
“We already have tons of issues with the docks,” Wendy said. “Drake has plans to put more boats there. We can’t imagine having ten more boats on that dock. We think it’s dangerous. There’s kids swimming, there’s people playing it’s just so much congestion in such a small area. We have cars coming and going, people using our driveway to make turns to adjust the cars appropriately to fit into Drake’s driveway.”
David Blaeser reinforced his wife’s comments.
“We’re the ones getting greatly affected by it because we’re in the line of everything,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair for this to get passed. It would just cause more problems and more issues that we do not need.”
However, commissioners clarified that any issues with the use of docks was outside the scope of the conditional use permit review for the property, and instead would be under the jurisdiction of the DNR.
And Dill had his own answer for the issue. He said he had contacted a local marina to inquire about reserving 10 slips for the use of his guests and was told that was possible. Responding to another congestion issue raised, Dill said he had purchased a five-acre tract outside of Crane Lake where he plans to create a parking lot for guests’ boat trailers, so that they wouldn’t pose a problem for traffic or storage.
Dill’s development would have three RV spaces on a lower tier near Gold Coast Road, and seven more on an upper tier with an entrance off Hilltop Rd., where there are also several residences.
One couple, Amy and Jim Arcand, were concerned that Dill’s proposal documents didn’t include any information about how the commercial property would be screened from view.
“There are only six residents’ homes on that road currently and adding seven (RVs) is going to change the feel of our street quite significantly,” Amy said.
Jim noted that Dill had a meeting with some of the owners to talk about the project and get their feedback, and had promised to contribute his share to the ongoing private maintenance of the road, but he also wanted commissioners to require specific language about screening in the proposal and to enforce relevant ordinances.
“I don’t have a problem making sure there is some sort of screening as part of the application,” Dill said.
Impervious surface issue
While additional issues raised by opponents were raised and discussed, an item included in the commission’s analysis of the proposal appears to be the one that could cause Dill to have to reconfigure his plans.
Senior Planner Donald Rigney reported that the plans submitted by Dill appear to exceed the amount of impervious surface allowed on the property by county zoning ordinances. Impervious surfaces include such things as buildings, concrete pads, asphalt and gravel roads, and other such surfacing that doesn’t allow the natural seepage of water into the soil and creates stormwater runoff.
For Dill to be in compliance with the ordinance, only 15 percent of the property may be covered with impervious surfaces, which includes an existing lodge. If Dill obtained an engineered stormwater plan, that percentage would rise to 25 percent.
“The amount of impervious surface would need to be reduced to what is allowed,” Rigney said.
After nearly an hour of discussion and review, commissioners approved Dill’s application for a conditional use permit with standard stipulations for adhering to applicable ordinances and permitting, as well as specifying the impervious surface requirement.
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