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Revised RV campground proposal approved

Development of a campground near the southeast side of Otter Tail Lake is moving forward.

The Otter Tail County Board on June 4 approved a scaled-down proposal that reduces the number of camping units from 186 to 141.

Despite strong opposition from nearby lakeshore property owners, board members agreed with the county planning commission, which emphasized that the campsites, near Highways 78 and 5, will be outside the shoreland area.

The county board placed conditions on the approval of the plan, as proposed by developers Greg and Beth Swanberg. Their proposal is called Homestead at Ottertail RV Park and Resort. The campground, near the city of Ottertail, will be located near Otter Tail Lake.

A mandatory Environmental Assessment Worksheet was previously completed. A subsequent Environmental Impact Statement was not deemed necessary by the county board.

Surface water runoff is not believed to be an issue, since the campground will be located on the southeast side of State Highway 78, not directly adjacent to Otter Tail Lake.

The county board and planning commission agreed that the revised proposal meets or exceeds cluster development requirements of the county’s Shoreland Management Ordinance.

Other conditions, in addition to decreasing the number of units from 186 to 141, include development of a storm water management plan, an approved sewage system, ensuring that a pavilion will be used only for smaller events and not for concerts and the like, development of a vegetative buffer strip and erosion control plan, construction of a watercraft decontamination unit, ensuring an area for overflow parking and proper signage.

The developers said they are in full agreement with these conditions.

“Yes, the conditions are all acceptable to us,” said Greg Swanberg.

Opposition came in previous months from many area lakeshore property owners.

Dan Arnold, who has a lake home directly across from the campground, maintained that the Environment Assessment Worksheet did not fully discover the compatibility with surrounding neighbors, both lakeshore and working farms.

Arnold first expressed his concerns during a public hearing in September 2011. At that time, he said he and fellow lakeside property owners were deeply concerned about having so many camping units on 69 acres of land. He added that the cluster development would alter the entire character of the area. Also cited was the possibility of excess noise, the negative impact of septic systems for a large group of people, congestion at the nearby public access and picnic areas, and other factors.

Janet Nermoe, who lives adjacent to the property owned by the developers, said negative impacts far outweighed anything positive. She said having an RV park a short distance from Otter Tail Lake would be the attraction for the campsite, bringing in boat and personal watercraft traffic. She also raised the issue of increased automobile traffic.

In the end, however, the revised plan for Homestead at Otter Tail passed the county board unanimously. 

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent