County board reverses self, Toad Lake resort allowed to triple in size
Richard and Dana Laine will now be able to host 24 RV units on the resort on their property at 20781 County Road 117.
DETROIT LAKES — Due largely to a new mix of commissioners on the Becker County Board, a campground on Big Toad Lake will be allowed to triple its number of RV campsites to 24 from eight.
Commissioners on Tuesday also struck down all but two restrictions that were imposed when a conditional use permit for a commercial planned unit development was first approved for the controversial campsite in April of 2021.
Richard and Dana Laine will now be able to host 24 RV units on the resort on their property at 20781 County Road 117. The plan includes up to 14 dock and boat lift combinations on Big Toad Lake to serve those units.
Their property is south of Bambi’s Resort.
The Laines, former dairy farmers, will use the campground to help finance their retirement.
Back in 2021, approval for eight units was granted on a 3-2 vote, with commissioners Larry Knutson and Ben Grimsley opposed. Both have since left the board.
With that original approval came a number of conditions, including fencing, tree screening, storage sheds, pets on leashes, driveway access and others, including some unusual ones such as no subletting of property, and a requirement that the RVs be moved back 110 feet from the road, rather than the 95 feet originally planned.
On Tuesday, a half-dozen people who live in the neighborhood asked the board to deny the expansion request.
“Several times (in the past) you guys voted down the 24 units,” said Deb Nerud, president of the Toad Lake Association. “You had good reason to vote it down, and nothing has really changed,” she added.
The resort is separated from Big Toad Lake by County Road 117, which runs along the shoreline. With more people will come more parking and more kids running across the road, creating a dangerous situation, she said. “A big reason you guys did deny it before was road safety,” she said. “That hasn’t gone away — it’s going to be worse with 24 units.”
Clark Lee, who also lives in the neighborhood, asked commissioners to deny the expansion. “Today you are being asked to remove all stipulations on the RV park,” he said. “Yet the owners did not take the time to present commissioners with a comprehensive map — just a location map of the RV units.” The list of conditions was approved earlier by the board, and “to remove those stipulations now is not fair to anyone but the applicant,” Lee said.
Another neighbor, Yvonne Kangas, told commissioners that adding a commercial area would be detrimental to the neighborhood. “I am now sandwiched between two commercial businesses,” she said. “Allowing this to expand to the extent of the request is a violation of my rights as a property owner.”
John LaSage, who lives at the nearby Bambi Resort, spoke in favor of the larger RV park. “I think it will be a nice addition to the lake,” he said. “You hear all these comments about traffic safety on this road. In 18 years there’s been two crashes – both with deer – this road is not as dangerous as they portray it to be. They walk up and down the road all summer – they have a 5K walk-run on July 4 weekend – that’s how dangerous it is,” he said.
James Yliniemi, chair of the Toad Lake Township Board, also threw his support to the expanded RV park. “Over the years we as a board thought Laine has done a pretty good job with his property. He complied pretty well with what was requested of his property. Rich has gone beyond what has been required of any other RV park in the county, I think. Looking at his drawings, he will definitely have a nice-looking RV park.”
Laine himself says he is asking the stipulations be dropped “because they really have no bearing on the lake, on the traffic, on the area … these are all management decisions, it seems to me.”
The County Board on Tuesday voted unanimously to follow the recommendation of the county planning commission — approving the 24 RV units and the removal of all but two stipulations. The requirement for certain border trees and for an L-shaped privacy fence for each unit will remain in place, because the planning commission did not act on them.
The seasonal campground operates between May 1 and Sept. 30.