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Board approves Star Lake LID

Surmising that some affected property owners would petition for a vote on the matter, Otter Tail County Commissioners last week approved a plan for a Lake Improvement District (LID) at Star Lake.

The commissioners’ vote leaves the door open for opponents, if they wish, to gather a petition of 26 percent of Star Lake property owners. This would put the final decision to a vote among all property owners at the lake.

“I wish there were a third leg of the stool to propose a vote,” said commissioner Wayne Johnson, whose district includes Star Lake. “Pro or con, we know there will likely be a petition for a vote among all property owners.”

That being said, Johnson and other commissioners said the petition drive should not come from lakeshore residents who want to see the LID established. They said that opponents of the LID, if they so desire, should be the ones to do the work, organize the petition and call for a vote.

County Board Chairman Doug Huebsch said he strongly supports LIDs, “because they work. With a well-functioning LID, many lake problems can be solved. As an example, one lake solved its curly-leaf pondweed problem.”

Otter Tail County currently has six Lake Improvement Districts. One is for the Pelican group of lakes, a second is for Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes, the third includes Devils and Little Devils lakes, the fourth is for Big and Little Pine lakes, the fifth is located at South Turtle Lake and the sixth is located at Big McDonald Lake.

A special election will be held July 20 for a referendum vote on the establishment of a proposed Marion Lake Improvement District. Passage or denial would require a simple majority vote of any tally over 50 percent.

Commissioners expect to also see a special vote by lake residents of Star Lake.

A core group of Star Lake residents who are members of the property owners association made the push for establishment of a LID. A public hearing on the matter was held June 10.

For its part, the county board has said it seeks uniformity of LID structures among the various lakes in Otter Tail County.

Star Lake LID proponents say they’ve done their due diligence. It was in June of 2011, two years ago, when the lake association established a committee to look into forming a LID. The core group said a LID was needed in order to successfully meet challenges to the well-being of their lake. Proponents say that property owners have done their best, with limited resources, to address issues at Star Lake such as high water, invasive species and other matters.

Star Lake currently has 471 parcels with 853 property owners.

Minnesota’s state legislature authorized establishment of LIDs in 1973. Support must come from a majority of affected property owners in a particular boundary. Most LIDs created in recent years have been primarily chartered to deal with the prevention or control of aquatic species invasion.

Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent