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Lake View still opposed to Pelican RV park

"Trying to make the best out of a bad situation."

That's how Lake View Township Supervisor Gail Hahn describes dealing with the proposed River Hills RV Park on Pelican River.

Lake View Township, represented by attorney Patrick Kenney, has been fighting the River Hills RV Park at meetings since last summer.

"The city and developer have been remiss since day one without having their ducks in a row," Hahn said.

Thursday, the Detroit Lakes Planning Commission is meeting to consider rezoning the newly annexed property from agriculture-residential to one and two family residential.

"Why are zoning rules made if they aren't going to be followed?" Hahn questioned. "The city has not been real clean in this, either."

At a previous planning commission meeting, Community Development Director Larry Remmen said when most pieces of land are annexed into the city, they are rezoned because majority of Detroit Lakes is already zoned residential, not agriculture.

Commission members discussed making an ordinance in the future that will automatically change all annexed land to residential. No meetings have been set for that at this point.

This Thursday, it's only the RV Park land up for rezoning.

"I'm sure it will go over their (the city) heads and it will go right on," Hahn said. "They (the city) completely went over our (the township) head and got it annexed."

When a piece of property is within two miles of the city boundaries and the developer requests annexation, if the land is less than 60 acres, it can be annexed without all the public hearings as if it were over 60 acres. In the past, Remmen said it isn't uncommon for developments to be annexed into the city this way.

The Clear Creek project on St. Clair Lake was done in the same fashion. Difference is it was divided into two pieces of land to keep each under the 60 acres.

Besides the rezoning issue, Hahn says the project, as a whole, is a bad idea. She said she has yet to see a map showing green space, and she questions what will actually be left of the golf course after the project is finished.

She said developer Patrick Onstad has asked her to take a walk around the property with her, but she refuses. She said she's lived in the area all her life and already knows what the land looks like.

"The main concern -- water," she said.

Building the development along the Pelican River has been the main discussion topic for months. Onstad has worked with the Pelican River Watershed District and the Department of Natural Resources to find a way the development could be located there but have as little as possible impact on the water.

The group finally decided on an inland marina, where boats and pontoons will be brought out farther in the river with a tram system.

"The Pelican River Watershed District and DNR are working their tails off" to find a solution, Hahn said.

She said the township residents don't want to see green water, and those who are on Muskrat Lake should be worried about water quality.

"Traffic, not only on the river, but onto (Highway) 59 in the summer," she said is another concern.

She said the township and Kenney has a lot of time and effort invested in fighting the project, but she feels it's a "cut and dried deal," and will be passed with no problem.

"We've (the township) said all we can do. There's not a leg to stand on, it's not even our property anymore," Hahn said.

She said she feels the project will go through quickly because the city, the developer and local Long Lake resort owner Dick Pettit are all supporting it.

It has been mentioned at past planning commission meetings that with Pettit's resort closing, the developer and the city would like another park to open for his former customers to use.

Although Lake View Township may not be able to fight the planned unit development much more at this point, Hahn stands behind her decision that the project should never happen.

"They keep ramming it down everyone's throat," she said.