A proposed 24-unit commercial storage facility on Lake Andrew, opposed by neighbors, was unanimously approved by Douglas County commissioners at the Tuesday, Feb 16, regular meeting.

Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush said when the planned unit development application came before the planning commission in January, he had received plenty of feedback from neighbors opposing the project. They had several concerns, including aesthetics, lighting, impact on value of existing properties and the possibility of an uptick in crime in that area as storage sheds seem to be a target for burglaries.

He received several letters from neighbors and a petition opposing the project.

Rush told commissioners that the members of the planning commission heard the concerns and made a recommendation based on those concerns to the county board to go ahead and approve the conditional use permit, but with seven conditions.

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The conditions address some of the issues, such as the lighting has to follow four standards set in place by the planning commission, including the “lighting shall have a correlated color temperature of not greater than 3220K to limit the emission of blue light waves” and “all lighting fixtures must be hooded such that no light shall be emitted from the fixture 45 degrees above a horizontal plane.”

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Rush told commissioners that those who opposed the project wanted it to go back to the planning commission for a public hearing because they didn’t feel they had an opportunity to voice their concerns.

However, Rush explained to the commissioners that the meeting about the project was publicized as a public hearing and that notices had been mailed out to all residents in the area with details about the meeting, which included the option to attend in person or virtually.

The planning commission meeting in January is where the residents could have voiced their concerns, Rush said.

This survey map shows the location of the seven-lot plat, as well as the where the storage shed facility would located. The document was included in the packet for the Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. (Contributed)
This survey map shows the location of the seven-lot plat, as well as the where the storage shed facility would located. The document was included in the packet for the Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 16. (Contributed)

Douglas County Chairperson Jerry Rapp said that the agenda item at the Tuesday county board meeting did not allow for public comment, even though he knew there were people in attendance who were both for and against the project. He also said that the project went through the proper channels and process and that the commissioners needed to base their vote on that fact.

County Board member Keith Englund made the motion to go ahead and approve the project with the seven conditions with Commissioner Tim Kalina seconding the motion.

Englund also said that he would not point any fingers at anyone but that he heard there was some animosity toward the owners and developers of the project, Kirsten and Eric Nelson and Adam and Alicia Bertram.

“There’s been a lot of bullying on this and that’s baloney,” said Englund. “It’s unnecessary. These people followed the rules and did what they needed to do.”

Background on the storage shed project

According to the staff report presented to the commissioners, the applicants, Adam and Alicia Bertram, have agreed to purchase a nearly 21-acre parcel with an adjacent lot on Lake Andrew. They are proposing to create a seven-lot subdivision along with the 24-unit storage facility.

The residential lots would be accessed via Trousil Drive while the storage units would be accessed via County Road 28.

The storage facility would include four buildings, each with six 1,200 -- square-foot units that will be divided like a condominium and sold to individual owners rather than being rented or leased. The Bertrams are working with a local engineering firm to develop plans for stormwater runoff. They are also planning to limit potential aesthetic impacts by establishing a tree barrier, special lighting and using building designs and colors to blend in as much as possible with the surrounding neighborhood, according to the staff report.

Other approvals

Along with approving the conditional use permit for the storage shed project, the commissioners approved a preliminary plat for the Lake Andrew Estates Third Addition. The seven-lot plat is in Lake Mary Township.

The lots would not have access to Lake Andrew other than by public water access and the lots would be connected to central sewer and the stormwater runoff would be collected and treated before being discharged from the development.

The application for the preliminary plat was made by Kirsten and Eric Nelson (owners) and Adam and Alicia Bertram (subdividers).

A conditional use permit, with 19 conditions, was also granted to the owners of Andes Tower Hills for a 48-unit RV campground on the grounds of Andes Tower Hills, a skiing, tubing and snowboarding business near Kensington in Moe Township.

The seasonal campground would only be open April through September based on the conditions, with no occupancy October through March.