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Planning panel likes revamped condo plan -- Next step for developer is to find new location for the DL bowling alley

A plan that will relocate Voyageur Lanes bowling alley in Detroit lakes and in its place house a new condominium is one step closer to approval.

Tuesday night, the Detroit Lakes Planning Commission unanimously approved the request of David Spies Family Limited Partnership to build a condo on the West Lake Drive property.

Developer David Spies said he has been working with the city for over a year to get approval for his plans. After coming before the planning commission at the start of this year, the commissioners sent Spies back with suggestions to improve the plan. He took their advice and impressed them this month.

"I think he's going in the right direction with this project," Community Development Director Larry Remmen said Tuesday.

With a list of 17 conditions, a few stood out as improvements on the original plan. From a proposed 27 units, Spies has reduced the number of units to 21, with nine being in the first tier on Little Detroit Lake.

The site will also provide at least six parking spaces for the bike trail access. The condos will sit between 94 feet and 200 feet from the lake.

Spies also reduced the impervious surface percentage of the development from 36 percent to 22 percent. The ordinance sets the maximum amount at 25 percent.

"As you view it from the lake, he's back pretty far," Remmen said. "It makes sense and fits with what we're talking about. The improvements are eminent."

The property will also be allowed one dock with 15 boat slips on it.

The biggest discussion revolved around the height of the building. City ordinance sets the height of the building at 25 feet, but Spies is asking for nearly 45 feet. Remmen said to put it in perspective, The Lodge on Lake Detroit also got a height variance for having roughly the same height, within a few inches.

Commission member Harry Johnston said the planning commission should change the height variance to 30 or 35 feet from 25 feet. Remmen said the state sets the regulation at 25 feet and cities are able to be stricter in regulations, but not more lenient. Johnston suggested the state change the regulation.

"Are we better off, yeah. This is a great plan for the area," commission member Chris Bergen said. "If this guy wants to spend the money in our town, I think we should let him."

Spies spoke briefly, saying he could be doing a lot more density and damage to the property without going through the conditional use permit process, but he'd rather have a nice building and not do as much damage to Detroit Lake.

"This project has to be good for the bowling community and the city of Detroit Lakes," he said.

"I like the improvements that you've done to the building," commission member Ginny Imholte said. She questioned the outside look of the building, which was not that clear from the sketches, stating Detroit Lakes could use some fun and unique building designs, with Spies agreeing.

"I think it's a good plan. It's a benefit to the lake," said commission chair and city council alderman G.L. Tucker, noting the improvements to the plan.

"The developer has done a great job," Johnston said, singling out the improvement to reduction in impervious surface.

After the unanimous vote, Spies thanked the commission and said he can now concentrate on relocating the bowling alley.

The Community Development Committee will visit the issue Thursday, April 3, and then the city council on Tuesday, April 8.