Douglas County says cabin project on Lake Ida doesn't comply with building permit

Property owners Brenda Fischer and Scott Rieger have options, including suing the county, after the Douglas County Board of Adjustment denied a variance.

Tom Klemenhagen (middle), president of Landteam Inc. , a consulting firm in Alexandria, is working on the Pilgrim Point Shores proposed development on Lake Ida. He spoke at an informational meeting Tuesday night, June 22, at the Douglas County Planning Commission meeting. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

The Douglas County Board of Adjustment denied a variance for an after-the-fact addition to a cabin on Lake Ida at its meeting Tuesday, June 22.

A hearing was held for the variance to allow an after-the-fact half-story addition to a cabin on Lake Ida. The applicants were Brenda Fischer and Scott Rieger, who are part of the Carolina Beach Co-op Association.

According to information provided by Douglas County Land and Resource Management, the applicants applied for and received a land use permit to reconstruct an existing cabin. The cabin was permitted to be rebuilt in the same footprint as the existing cabin and to include a basement foundation and steeper pitched roof with dormers.


However, the applicants later changed the plans with a change in the roof pitch that Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush believed constituted an expansion of the building. The applicants were then required to get a variance, which would bring the project into compliance.

Now that the variance has been denied, Rush said the applicants can appeal to the District Court, which basically means they can sue the county over the decision. They have 30 days to file the appeal. The 30 days start after the applicants receive the official letter notifying them of the denial of their variance, Rush said.

RELATED: Lake Miltona property owners ordered to remove patio, retaining wall after building it without proper permits
Rush also said the applicants could come back with another variance request if they feel they have new evidence or circumstances have changed.

“There are choices,” said Rush, noting that just because the variance was denied doesn’t mean that the applicants have to immediately tear down what was built. “As a county, we will sit back and wait. It is now in their court.”

EAW comment period opened on Pilgrim Point project

About 15 people were in attendance at a public informational meeting Tuesday night for the proposed development on Pilgrim Point on Lake Ida.

The meeting was held as part of the Douglas County Planning Commission meeting to address Pilgrim Point Shores and its Environmental Assessment Worksheet.

RELATED: Douglas County seeks input on Pilgrim Point development project as part of the EAW review process
Rush provided some background on the project, including that because it meets certain criteria, like having 25 or more lots, by state statute, the project has to go through the EAW process.

Pilgrim Point Shores is on 35.5 acres on the east shore of the lake. Initial activities will include roadway construction, public sanitary sewer installation and construction of permanent stormwater management facilities, which will then be followed by individual lot construction.


The plan calls for 28 lakeshore lots, four non-lakeshore lots and 14 single-family townhome lots.

The EAW provides an opportunity for state and local authorities to gain more information about the project and its impact on the environment. It also provides that information to the public and gives them time to comment. The comment period is now open and will close on July 9 at 4:30 p.m.

Dave Rush

Copies of the EAW are available at the Land and Resource Management office, 305 Eighth Ave. W, Alexandria. Comments can either be emailed to or mailed to him at the address previously stated. Written comments become part of the public record.

Kevin Weber, a resident who lives in the Pilgrim Point area and who attended the meeting, wanted to know information about the roads and has concerns about speed and safety.

Additionally, Weber was upset about the fact that the Pilgrim Point Road recently was taken over by the county and is now County Road 116. It was previously a township road and managed by LaGrand Township.

“I want it to be on the record that I spoke to the (Douglas County) commissioners and we, as property owners, paid our fair share of the road. I did not contribute to the road so that the county could take it over,” stated Weber. “I want my money back.”


RELATED: Portion of Pilgrim Point Road to become County Road 116

Rush told Weber he would be happy to discuss the road issues with Weber, but that the focus of Tuesday’s meeting was for the development project.

Dan Diedrich, a supervisor in Lake Ida Township, spoke up and said he empathizes with Weber, but that he told Weber when he attended the township meeting that his concerns with the road needed to be taken up with the county. He said that Weber wasted enough of everyone’s time at the township meeting.

Diedrich also noted that before the road was turned over to the county, the township lowered the speed limit from 55 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour. That 35 mph remains in place even though it is now a county road.

A couple other people asked questions during the informational meeting that dealt with erosion, lighting and width of the lakeshore lots, which Rush answered.

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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