Plat on Pickerel okayed despite concerns

The Hubbard County Planning Commission gave preliminary approval last week on the plat of Open Meadows, in spite of opposition from Lake Emma Township and some residents.

The Hubbard County Planning Commission gave preliminary approval last week on the plat of Open Meadows, in spite of opposition from Lake Emma Township and some residents.

Open Meadows is a 38-acre property subidvided into 14 residential lots on Pickerel Lake by developer Arlin Stoltenow.

The Board of Adjustment rejected a variance request from Stoltenow in 2005 to keep a road built on the property without a permit and ordered Stoltenow to replace natural vegetation and topographic conditions.

When the modified plat came up at the November Planning Commission meeting, members tabled it to learn whether or not the orders were carried out.

Environmental Services Office administrator Eric Buitenwerf said inspections concluded Stoltenow complied with the orders within the 60-day timeframe.


Buitenwerf read several letters of complaint from neighbors and the Lake Emma Township board regarding the proposed plat.

The township's letter recommended the project be subject to an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) or an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). The township also advised the plat should be based on the highest water mark, recorded in 2001, instead of the ordinary high water mark.

In another letter, Pickerel Lake seasonal resident Craig Nieman requested the commission give due environmental consideration to the proposal.

"Arlin (Stoltenow) has shown little regard for the lake in the past," wrote Nieman.

Seasonal residents Gail Pratt Bliss and Linda Pratt Sharkey wrote to ask the Planning Commission to delay approval until an EIS can be completed, to use the highest water mark for plat calculations and to limit allowable watercraft per dock on the lake.

Planning Commission member Earl Benson asked if environmental services had to ask for an EIS or EAW or if the township could submit its own application.

"This proposal does not meet the mandatory threshold to require it (an EAW)," Buitenwerf said.

He added the county board could order an EAW, or would vote to grant or deny a request if residents complete a request to the state Environmental Quality Board.


"I don't feel an EAW will provide any additional information on the data," said Buitenwerf.

County commissioner Lyle Robinson asked Buitenwerf if environmental services had data on wetland delineation for the property by a surveyor with a good survey record.

Buitenwerf indicated the county received such a wetland delineation.

"Well, you can't build on wetlands, and you can't use it for the sewer. What would they do? Look at it? If they can't build on it, how would it harm anything?" asked Robinson.

During public comments, Lake Emma Township board chair Rod Westrum told the Planning Commission the township did not receive a copy of the new plat until a month ago.

Westrum said the township wished to place more of the development in the second tier, away from the shoreline.

"Does Lake Emma Township have an ordinance?" asked chair Bob Ruhnke.

"No, we do not. We hoped the county could handle it," said Westrum.


Nieman informed commission members of his discussion with the Department of Natural Resources.

If the developer built a dock stretching across the wetlands to reach the shore, no regulations would prevent residents from storing watercraft in the wetlands, said Nieman.

Buitenwerf said environmental services staff recommended preliminary approval of the plat.

After unanimous approval (with Terry Claremont absent), the plat will go to the county commissioners for preliminary approval Dec. 19.

What To Read Next
Get Local