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Want to build on a smaller lake lot? You should be at the COLA meeting

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Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Got an old lake home? Want to spiff it up a little? Then you might want to check out the Thursday meeting of the Becker County Coalition of Lakes Association.

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Any area resident interested in building or remodeling a house on lakeshore property is encouraged to attend this meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in Room C101 at Minnesota State Community & Technical College-Detroit Lakes.

John Postovit, chair of COLA's Environmental Committee, will explain new and proposed changes to the county zoning codes, which will impact future construction around the county's 412 lakes. Postovit also serves as COLA's representative to the Becker County Environmental Review Panel and the county's Ordinance Review Advisory Committee.

"This is our first meeting of the year," Postovit said, noting that COLA only holds monthly meetings from April through September.

Each of the monthly COLA meetings has a program focused on a specific issue related to lakes and lakeshore property. Postovit will present this month's program.

"It's going to be about the regulations placed into effect in Becker County last November," Postovit said. Specifically, his presentation will focus on those regulations related to redevelopment of non-conforming lakeshore land parcels.

"What Becker County has adopted is a unique way of dealing with the disappearance of (lake) cabins and cottages and the appearance of substantial (i.e., larger, more expensive) homes," he continued.

So unique, in fact, that the State of Minnesota has incorporated some of those concepts into a new set of alternate shoreland development standards.

"They were developed in a five-county pilot study under Governor Pawlenty's Clean Water Initiative," Postovit said. "The pilot study was done in Hubbard, Crow Wing, Itasca, Aiken and Cass counties."

The alternative standards the state came up with as a result of this study are not mandatory, but can be voluntarily adopted by counties. The alternative standards also incorporate some of Becker County's concepts related to non-conforming lot development, Postovit noted.

"It turns out Becker County is in a leadership position in terms of (developing) unique and innovative regulations associated with that (non-conforming lot development)," he added.

In Thursday night's presentation, Postovit will focus on taking COLA members through the process whereby the county determines "what mitigations are necessary in order for them to allow a rebuilding project to move forward" on a non-conforming land parcel.

Some of those mitigating practices would include shoreland buffer restoration, rain gardens to contain water runoff and the use of French drains.

Postovit has already met with members of the Lake Area Builders Association to discuss the new regulations, and will soon be meeting with the board of the local realtors association.

"We're trying to get the word out that the rules have changed," Postovit said. "If somebody's going to rebuild on a (small-size) lake property, they have to do certain things in order for the county to allow them a permit."

Next month's presentation will focus on septic systems.

Those interested in preserving water quality, good lakeshore property values, and the environmental integrity of area lakes are encouraged to attend COLA meetings, usually held monthly on the second Thursday

Coffee and refreshments are served at 6:30 p.m.

For information, contact Fred Tuominen at 218-847-4780.

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