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Otter Tail County to support roundabouts in Pelican Rapids

The roundabouts are part of a Complete Streets project to improve safety and convenience for all travelers.

The Otter Tail County Commission agreed to support the state's plan to replace traffic lights with roundabouts in Pelican Rapids at its Nov. 23 board meeting.

"That has caused a lot of stress with some citizens," said Commissioner Wayne Johnson, who said he plans to attend the Tuesday, Nov. 30, Pelican Rapids City Council meeting to encourage the city to move forward with its Complete Streets project.

A Complete Streets project focuses on creating safe and convenient local travel for users of all ages and abilities no matter what sort of transportation they use, whether it is walking, bicycling, driving vehicles, or other means.

"I just think it's important that we support MNDOT in this Complete Streets project in order to help the economic growth, the trail system that is going to built next year and all those kinds of things," Johnson said.

Johnson, whose district includes Pelican Rapids, said he also wanted to remind the city of the many ways the county has helped them with, such as building the trail system from Maplewood to Pelican Rapids and boosting the city's economic growth such as getting an apartment complex.

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"From my view it would be helpful if the council was reminded of all the things that Otter Tail County is partnering with them on," Johnson said.

Protecting septic soils

After developers ruined the designated septic areas for two Otter Tail County lots this summer, the county has decided to require more permanent fencing to protect those areas.

"We had two lots this past summer that were platted in the past and by the time the septic people got there the dozers drove all over the lot," Chris LeClair, director of Land & Resource Management, told commissioners. "We had people building million dollar lake homes and now the county comes out and says you can't have septic systems. ... That makes for very unhappy homeowners."

Heavy machinery compresses the soil so that it can no longer effectively serve as a septic system, he said. Some builders think all they have to do is till it up, he said, but that doesn't work.

"The only thing that will reclaim that soil and help it to be used for a septic area — I don't mean to be flippant — is a glacier coming through," he said.

Surprise for a resort owner

A resort owner seeking approval for three additional RV spaces got a surprise when LeClair told him that he already had more spots than had been approved by the county.

The owner of Vacationland Resort in Everts Township was seeking three additional seasonal, RV sites for a total of 20 sites. But when LeClair studied, the site, he learned that the resort had already been expanded without county permission.

"Sometime between 2003 and 2010, when he purchased the resort, someone snuck in five additional units that were never approved by the Planning Commission," LeClair said.

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The Otter Tail County Planning Commission approved the 17 existing units but found he only had room for two more spots, not three.

Other projects approved by the county commission were: An 800-foot driveway and regrade of a lot in Stony Hills Addition in Edna Township; upgrade of existing driveway and and three new cul-de-sac roads in Corliss Township near Big Pine Lake; and a cabin complex for the Hanson Family, who want to build a main cabin on Sybil Lake in Vergas, along with a storage building, up to eight more cabins in the future for family members, and a tennis/sport court with a shelter.

Commissioners delayed action on an expansion of Loon Lake Resort in Candor Township after a neighbor is seeking an environmental assessment of the expansion.

The resort has drawn a mix of support from tourism groups who emphasized the benefit to the economy, and opposition from neighbors who expressed concern about lake traffic and the impact on the environment.

The resort wanted to add cabins, dock slips and roads and cart paths. The Planning Commission approved the expansion except for the boat slips, keeping those to the existing 31 boat slips. Loon Lake Resort wanted to add 16 more slips.

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