By Barbie Porter
The Otter Tail County’s Planning Commission approved a motion to table the expansion request of Loon Lake Resort in Vergas, at the applicant’s request. The matter will be reviewed again with an updated plan, as well as an environmental impact worksheet. A boating density study will also be requested from the Department of Natural Resources.
During the monthly commission meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 14, Loon Lake Resort owners Jay and Judy Malstrom’s application for expansion was reviewed. The application stated the resort is looking to add 48 seasonal units and a total of 47 dock slips as well as construction driving surfaces and cart paths with about 150-cubic-yards of dirt moving needed.
During the presentation to the commission, the resort surveyor and owners explained five campsites were withdrawn from the proposal to prevent removing large trees, reducing the number of lots to 42. The number of boat slips was also decreased to 40 total.
The Malstroms said they purchased the resort in January and went to work with needed maintenance. The benefits to the addition would allow more families to enjoy lake life, as well as support the nearby city of Vergas.
The commission was informed the resort has a barn and bathrooms which are communal, and there has been discussion about making the barn more of an indoor recreational area for those at the campground.
The beach was stated to be “sufficient” with no further plans to increase it.
The Malstroms added they have a few UTVs that were grandfathered in, but they don’t intend to allow more at the campgrounds. The plan is to create paths where slower-moving golf carts can be used.
As far as services, the Malstroms explained three drain fields, although there would be a few septic tanks installed due to inclines or declines in topography.
Opposing the project were dozens of residents from the 1,048-acre Loon Lake, which has three bays connected by channels. Reasons given for opposition included: reduced home market value, increased noise, environmental impacts to the lake, safety with increased boat and road traffic and impacts to fish and spawning areas.
The commission asked an environmental review worksheet be filled out to determine if a fuller study would be needed. It was noted the study may come with significant costs. A boat density study was recommended from a lake resident, who noted the DNR conducts them on request.
The commission has a list of 16 items that must be met to receive approval for such additions. While several of the items were checked off, there were some noted to cause concerns, which had to do with issues residents of the lake already presented.
When asked if an environmental worksheet could be done, the Malstroms agreed to the worksheet as well as bring the commission an updated plan version that would further reduce environmental and boating concerns to the next monthly meeting slated for Nov. 10.