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New DL panel may help with lake zoning

The city of Detroit Lakes is taking steps to make the development process around environmentally sensitive areas clearer.

The Detroit Lakes City Council decided to table the issue until the January meeting to make some changes to the establishment of an environmental review policy.

The policy states that the city wants to encourage development that is sensitive to the natural environment, reduce survey and platting costs for developers and avoid unnecessary Environmental Assessment Worksheets.

One more reason listed for the new policy is "to make developers aware of environmental concerns in an orderly way and early in the development process."

This policy comes soon after the River Hills RV Park development went through months and months of environmental and plat discussions.

Under the proposed policy, residential plats or planned unit developments of more than 24 lots or units, commercial developments of three acres or more, and a development that includes 1,000 feet or more of shoreline will be required to show a concept plan if they are located in the shoreland district.

Once the concept plan is submitted, copies will be given to the Pelican River Watershed District, Department of Natural Resources, Becker County Soil and Water Conservation District and the mayor.

A meeting will then be set up with all the agencies involved and the developer, with the mayor chairing the meeting.

Those involved will then have the option of submitting written concerns to the city about the development, which will be passed on to the developer.

Alderman G.L. Tucker said the group would make "no recommendations, just discussion."

Mayor Larry Buboltz asked Scott Walz, Meadowland Surveying, to speak at the Tuesday night council meeting. Walz is involved in the county's tech panel, which reviews plats before going to the county commissioners, and he has been involved with the River Hills RV Park as well.

"Congratulations, this is a great concept," Walz said.

He continued that the implementation of the policy is key. The amount of data required on the concept plan will be limited because of limited information available to the developer, he said, and also the group should give the developer a written list of concerns, not just what they could do, and ideas to address those concerns.

"Review the process frequently and stay involved," he said.

Alderman Bruce Imholte questioned the numbers chosen for number of units and amount of shoreline. Walz agreed that the threshold should be lowered.

"It doesn't hurt the developer to go through this process," Walz said.

The council decided to table the motion, and the mayor sent the policy back to the community development committee to review and possibly change the number of units and amount of shoreland. It will come back to the council at the January meeting.