17 May Developer plans condos, storage units on Hwy 371
The once-wooded area consists of 14.78 acres along Moburg Lake, a small water body west of the highway and North Long Lake. The Crow Wing County Board approved a preliminary plat for the proposed mixed-use development Tuesday, May 12. Lakeview Condo Storage, as the development is referred to in application materials, is expected to include 10 residential units as part of a common interest community, while another 34 buildings would be commercial storage. A private road would wind through the property leading back to the residential units, set farthest back from the highway.
Environmental services supervisor Jake Frie told the board via a Microsoft Teams call the planning commission/board of adjustment unanimously recommended approval of the plat, although he noted board members expressed concerns about the septic system plans within the shoreland district of Moburg Lake. Frie said following the April 30 public hearing on the proposal, the developer changed from the original proposal of 10 holding tanks for each unit to a type 1 septic system, which includes a septic tank and drain field.
Frie suggested the board add this change as a seventh condition of the plat. Among those conditions is the implementation of a stormwater management plan before development begins on the property.
“That’s what they intend to do, and this isn’t any sort of last minute change that I’m presenting for you,” Frie said of the septic system condition. “I would ask the board to consider adding that condition so we can ensure that just adequate protection of water quality and development of that residential development occurs.”
The county board set the stage for this development March 10, when it approved a land use amendment requested by the Bement Family Trust to reclassify the property. Previously zoned as waterfront commercial, the change meant the portion closest to the highway was changed to commercial 2, while the remaining 5.6 acres was rezoned as residential shoreland. A sale of the property to developer Mike Anderson was recorded the day after that approval, according to county property records.
This isn’t the first mixed-use development of this type built by Anderson. Minutes from the development review team state he’s built similar facilities and units in Becker County, but under different rules and ordinances.
While there were no comments from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or lake associations on the proposal, three comments representing the views of a number of neighbors in the area were not favorable. An email signed by four property owners cited confusion over what the development would be, concerns about the potential impact on shallow Moburg Lake — home to nesting waterfowl — and the desire for the completion of an environmental assessment worksheet. Although a petition is required to request such an assessment, the letter noted the stay at home order in place due to the coronavirus pandemic made it impossible to collect signatures.
Curt Johnson, who lives on Green Gables Road, stated neighbors were disappointed the lot was clear-cut of trees before any information was provided to those who live nearby.
“We would have hoped the developer would have given more consideration to the unique value of this natural area — both to our tax-paying residents and tourists, including those traveling the Hwy 371 corridor,” he wrote. “We are not confident, without the clear guidance and oversight from the Planning Commission, that the developer will act with due care in preserving the natural beauty and fragile ecosystem of this area.”
Frie said the planning commission considered the comments at its meeting and went on to issue the unanimous recommendation for approval.
Commissioner Bill Brekken asked Frie whether there were plans for any vegetation screening between the development and the highway. Frie said he didn’t believe so.
“Technically it wouldn’t be required to, because it’s not abutting an adjacent residential use,” he replied.
Brekken made the motion to approve the preliminary plat and Commissioner Rosemary Franzen seconded. The board unanimously supported the motion. A final plat must be presented for approval within one year.
In other business, the county board:
Approved two land use map amendments along Pine Beach Road.
The first amendment was requested by Donnie Berg to change the allowed use on a 6.54-acre parcel from commercial 1 to commercial/light industrial. The change will allow the operation of a welding business on the property, which wouldn’t be allowed under commercial 1 zoning. Commercial 1 covers areas adjacent to municipalities, while commercial 2 pertains to parcels within more rural areas.
The second amendment was requested by Mike Swarze of Mike’s Tree Co. concerning a property he owns adjacent to the site of the business. Swarze requested the map be amended to convert the property from rural residential 2.5 — meaning the minimum lot size allowed in that area would be 2.5 acres — to commercial 1.
Chairman Paul Koering asked for an explanation about why these two requests were different than one earlier this year on Pine Beach Road, ultimately denied by a majority of the county board. In that case, property owner Justin Rudolph requested a change from rural residential 2.5 to commercial 2, which would’ve allowed the installation of an outdoor storage lot as part of his landscaping business.
The planning commission recommended the county board deny that request, citing concerns about the location within a mostly residential area and the inability to limit any future businesses that may locate at the site. Rudolph already has two conditional use permits allowing him to operate the business on site and to build a commercial storage building.