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Family Dollar considers location in Ottertail

Tensions were high at a recent Ottertail City Council meeting as residents spoke out against a rezoning request made by Family Dollar.

Rezoning, conditional use, and variance consideration requests were all on the agenda at the July 18 meeting.

A representative from Family Dollar was present at the meeting, in addition to a second representative available via phone. A public hearing was held due to the request to rezone one parcel from residential to commercial.

Family Dollar is looking at purchasing two lots at the corner of Otter Drive and Highway 78 in order to build an 8,000-square-foot new construction store.

While the front lot they’d be purchasing is currently zoned commercial, the rear portion of the property is zoned residential.

Family Dollar representatives assured residents that the rear portion of the lot would remain “unpaved green space for the most part.”

Still, several residents shared their reservations about turning residential property into a commercial zone. The general consensus among property owners in attendance was that the residential lot in question was serving an important function as a buffer zone between the residential and commercial zones.

Bruce Carr, who lives near the proposed Family Dollar location, expressed his concern with the rezoning request.

“I’m for commercial development, that doesn’t bother me,” he said. “But I am against any incursion into this residential area. I’d like to see that lot stay residential.”

Family Dollar representatives pointed out how both Perham Health and Carr’s Tree Service go further west than the Family Dollar store will. They said that after spending considerable time researching the Ottertail area, this site is the only site they are considering for the store.

Another potential problem that surfaced during the discussion is Family Dollar’s impervious variance request.

The property in question falls under the Shoreland Ordinance, which allows no more than 25 percent impervious surface. Family Dollar’s plans call for 57 percent impervious surface, a number they said they believed could be substantially lowered. The DNR would need to approve this variance in order for the project to move forward.

The council decided to continue the public hearing at either a special meeting or their next regular meeting. In the meantime, Terry Karkela, city attorney, will research a few questions the council members had about the lots. 

Pier proposed on Pelican Bay

“There is a need for a handicapped accessible pier in the area,” Ron Grobeck, president of the Ottertail Business Association, mentioned to those in attendance at the council meeting.

He then gave a brief presentation about the handicapped accessible fishing pier that he and others are working on having built on Pelican Bay. The proposed site is conveniently located directly across Highway 78 from the Otter Tail Lake public launch area.

“Pelican Bay is the perfect location. It’s a natural environment lake and it pools out quickly,” Grobeck said. The pier would be permanent and would not need to be removed for the winter.

He said people were very excited about the idea in the business association and Ottertail Rod and Gun Club. Organizers are meeting with the DNR and state department of transportation about the details related to the pier project.

The plan is to also provide handicapped parking spaces on the same side of the highway as the pier.

Bike path repair work

Chris McConn, Interstate Engineering, reported that he, along with city staff members, Mayor Myron Lueders, and representatives from Central Specialties walked the bike path together earlier that day.

“There are some places where the shoulder on the bike path is either too low or too high,” he said.

McConn mentioned how he would like to see those spots corrected, along with having a few areas reseeded where there isn’t any vegetation. He suggested that the city send Central Specialties a letter saying that they have 10 days to complete this work.

Heidi Kratzke, For the Focus