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Two large housing developments coming to DL

The Detroit Lakes City Council has given its stamp of approval to two major housing developments that are being planned for the coming year, in the vicinity of Big and Little Detroit lakes.

Both the Highland Estates condominium development near the intersection of Highland Drive and Randolph Road, across Highway 10 from Little Detroit, and The Landing on LIttle Detroit, a six-unit, single-family home development off West Lake Drive, were approved by the council at its Tuesday night meeting.

The Highland Estates project, which is being developed by local residents Bob and Joyce Spilman, will include 22 condo units in a three-story building. The controversial $25 million project has gone through several incarnations since it was first proposed three years ago, but after scaling it back to a single, 39-foot building located within the shoreland district, Spilman was finally given the go-ahead to proceed with the project.

The vote was not unanimous, however: Both Alderman Jamie Marks Erickson and Alderman Barb Schiller Voss voted against the motion. Alderman Jay Schurman abstained from the vote, which was 4-2 in favor.

Erickson said that she had been surprised the proposal had received a unanimous recommendation from the City Planning Commission, noting that the building exceeds the maximum height requirement for projects within the shoreland district by 13 feet (and is also 9 feet higher than the maximum set for non-shoreland projects).

Alderman Bruce Imholte, who has been a vocal opponent of the project, voted in favor this time around, noting that while he did not personally feel it was a "good fit" for the neighborhood, it was well within the housing density and impervious surface requirements — and the council's decision to approve a rezoning request for the property last month had made it difficult for him to find reasons to continue to oppose it.

"We changed the zone to allow the developer more flexibility," Erickson said. "It's still a 3-story building, which I don't think fits in with the surrounding area."

In a related matter, the proposal to vacate and relocate a portion of the existing Lemmon Road to allow for development of the Highland Estates project was also approved, though again not unanimously, as Erickson also voted in opposition to this motion.

By contrast, the Landing on Little Detroit project received the unanimous approval of the council, as did a motion to authorize the preparation of plans and specifications to make sanitary sewer and water main improvements to the project at 1048 West Lake Drive.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 18-plus years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Detroit Lakes School Board. 

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