Lake Melissa residents alarmed by proposed lakeshore development

Summer landscape - lake shore in sunny day
Photographer: Elena Karpenkova/tenrec -

A proposed three-story, 41-unit senior living condominium on the east side of Lake Melissa has alarmed property owners and caused the Lakes Melissa and Sallie Improvement Association to hire a law firm to fight the project.

The developer, Nile Inc., of Fargo, wants to build the planned unit development on four consolidated parcels of residential land owned by MM Tweten Properties of West Fargo.

It would be located within 200 feet of the lake off County Road 17, about a half-mile south of Shady Hollow Flea Market.

“Lake Melissa currently has seven miles of lakeshore surrounded mostly by single-family residences on the lake. These cabins are generally passed down through their families. This is not the appropriate location for the high density, three story building proposed by Nile, Inc. and MM Tweten Properties,” Attorney Tami Norgard with the Vogel Law Firm said in a letter to Nate Anderson of Nile.

“The developer’s project is a high-density development that could feasibly locate 160 people on the property, plus custodial staff,” Norgard said. “The project includes a 45-foot, three story building, located high on an already elevated bluff on Lake Melissa, making it a visible beacon for all people living around or recreating on the lake.”


The project as proposed is too tall and far too dense to meet county zoning standards, and would require a conditional use permit and variances before it could be built, said Becker County Zoning Administrator Kyle Vareberg.

The county doesn’t allow for a cluster-type development on lakeshore, so without variances, the development could be no higher than 30 feet and no denser than approximately eight units, he said

Norgard said in her letter that the project does not meet any of the requirements needed to be granted a variance, and does not meet stipulations for a conditional use permit.

“As such, this proposed project is a non-starter and should not be considered at this location,” she said.

The lake improvement district is also concerned about the project’s impact on the forested hillside and the lakeshore; increased traffic on County Road 17; and about the septic system, since city sewer and water are not available there.

“With 82 bedrooms planned, there could feasibly be 160 new residents for the purposes of calculating water and sewer needs,” Norgard said. “The ordinance requires full redundancy for two full septic systems to provide adequate greenspace area in the event the initial septic system fails. The developer has no identified plan for this incredibly large septic system on the property, let alone uncovered green space for two separate systems…”

In short, Norgard made it clear to the developers that “the Lake Association will take every opportunity to object and litigate to halt this project as planned,” she said. “I hope the public opposition will encourage you to retool your plans for development on Lake Melissa.”

Anderson did not return a phone message Tuesday.


At this point, the project is in limbo.

“They had submitted an application in September, intending to be on the October Planning Commission agenda,” Vareberg said. But that application has been tabled at the developer’s request. It can be brought back at a later date, with or without changes, at the developer’s request, or may not be brought back at all.

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