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Eagles Landing Resort granted extra dock slips

This former resort on 5th Crow Wing Lake has been converted to a Planned Unit Development and will eventually have 11 residences and dock slips. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

Without the factual basis to support a variance, a confused Board of Adjustment nevertheless did just that, granting a resort-turned-PUD more than three times the recommended boat slips.

A deeply divided board OK'd the request for eight additional boat parking spots at Eagles Landing Resort on 5th Crow Wing Lake, over the objection of DNR Fisheries supervisor Doug Kingsley.

Resort owners Dan and Donna Rehkamp were previously granted permission to convert the resort to a Planned Unit Development that entails a four-tier residential plan in the southwest corner of the lake. It will eventually hold 11 cabins on 21 acres.

But DNR regulations only permit enough boat slips for the first tier of development plus a communal dock. In this case it would be three boat slips.

Dan Rehkamp argued there would be less wear and tear on the lake because permanent residents tend to use the lake less than weeklong resort visitors do.

"It will reduce the impact on the lake, the constant in and out" of resort guests constantly launching and pulling boats from the lake, he said.

"If we do this and more PUDs come up... the RV park (next to Eagles Landing) has 11 slips. What if they ask for 37 more?" questioned board member Jerry Cole. "You can't see the lake for tall the docks."

But alternate member Tom Krueger, a resort owner himself, said the lakeshore is almost half wetlands, so the goal of preserving the environment would be intact because Rehkamps couldn't locate docks there.

'The reason for the limitation on slips is to minimize the impact on the fish and wildlife in the lake," Kingsley said, "I would have a real serious concern it would open the floodgate and set a bad precedent for future development."

As deeper tiers of developments begin to sprout on area lakes, Kingsley said he envisions more requests from people without direct lake access nevertheless wishing to have a space for a boat.

Neighbors Dan and Nancy Carlson wrote in objection to the extra dock slips. They said Shady Lawn RV Estates is already overcrowding the lake. The request could add to boat traffic, the potential for boating accidents and shoreline erosion, Carlsons wrote.

Resorts receive different considerations, Kingsley said. "We recognize they serve larger populations and remove more aquatic vegetation so they're granted a little more leniency," he added.

"This is a 392-acre lake," Cole said. "I mean, it's fully populated."

The Board began discussing the standard six factual findings necessary to grant a variance. But members stumbled over whether the request of eight additional slips was a "substantial variation" from the regulation. They voted 3-2 it was.

"The findings have not been met in granting a variance," Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf cautioned the board - more than once.

Findings of fact must be answered in the negative to find the hardship necessary to grant a variance.

"I'm confused," said board chair Charles Knight.

The Board then, over Buitenwerf's admonishments, continued to vote on granting the variance, which it approved 3-2.

"Is there a legal problem?" Krueger asked.

"It is not recommended to go contrary to the findings," Buitenwerf replied.

But the vote had already been cast and recorded.

In other action, the board:

n Approved an after-the-fact request by Michael and Barbara Johnson for a utility shed they built within the shore impact zone of Boulder Lake, but with the proviso that the shed be moved back to the 50-foot mark. Mike Johnson said he has a back injury that prevents him from being able to haul fishing and recreational gear "250 feet up a hill" to his cabin.

n Approved an amendment to an existing variance for Wayne and Holly Koop to put a log cabin on their Little Mantrap Lake lot, replacing an older structure. Some modifications to the drain field and height of the home needed to be made when the house plans were finalized.

n Approved a variance request by Rachel Creager and Ronald Schirmers to replace an antiquated home on Fish Hook Lake with a log cabin on the same footprint, with some modifications to cut six feet off a garage, locating it further from the roadway. than the original.

n Approved the renovation of a cabin on Big Sand Lake at Evergreen Resort that would entail building an addition to the rear of the cabin away from the lake.

Resort owner Karl Dyre said he wanted to make the bathroom handicapped accessible and accommodate larger-sized guests due to the "fat factor. There are a lot of big people out there," he said.

n Approved a request by Steve Cushman and John and Teri Patterson to adjust a shared property line, creating two nonconforming lots on Little Mantrap Lake. Pattersons bought a small lots that was not suitable for building, explained surveyor Tom Miller. Their neighbor, Cushman, offered to adjust his lot by selling them a portion of his land so they could eventually build.

The narrow lots were first platted in 1924, Miller explained. The ordinary high water mark has also moved since the original plat. "It constricts where they can build," Miller said.

Knight said he was concerned that the upshot of the decision would create two nonconforming lots.

'They're both substandard now," Miller pointed out.

The request to create the lots was approved, then the house was approved with the condition that it be located 90 feet back from the lake, 15 feet further than the plans called for.

"And I want to park 11 boats there," joked John Patterson after the decision had been made.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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