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Planning board recommends rejecting lake cabins

Staff writer

Marion County Planning Commission voted Thursday to recommend rejecting a conditional use permit for daily rental cabins at Marion County Park and Lake.

Siblings Chris, Heather, Molly and Tamra Holub applied for the permit to build cabins on land they wanted to lease from the county. County Commissioner Dan Holub, their father, had recused himself from those discussions and spoke on the siblings’ behalf Thursday, as they were unable to attend.

The areas the Holubs proposed building the cabins are west of the heated fishing dock between Heated Dock Drive and Pine Tree Lane, north of annual rental mobile homes at the southwest corner of the lake, and south of the lake office.

Planning Commission member Bob Maxwell asked if the proposal was all-or-nothing, if the Holubs needed all three sites for a viable development. Holub said no. The cabins closest to the heated dock were their main priority, he said.

David Yearout, consultant to the Planning Commission, said the board’s review should only consider land use issues — whether cabins are appropriate at the proposed locations. Whether the county or private individuals will operate the cabins and lease conditions are the purview of Marion County Commission, he said.

The board received four letters concerning the proposal. A letter from Sharon Warner raised concerns about the lake’s designation on the state and federal registers of historic places and how that would affect construction.

A letter from Michael Smalley related to the lease, taxing, and public-private concerns. Debra Schwartz said in a letter that she was concerned the cabins could lead to increased crime at the lake.

Full-time lake resident Paul White asked several questions in a letter to the board. He asked how the cabins would be decommissioned, the relationship of the proposed business with lake officials, the boating rules for guests, and if the cabins would fit with the vision people originally had for the lake.

Any lease agreement would include provisions for decommissioning the cabins when their useful life ended, Holub said. Guests would be subject to the same rules as tent and recreational vehicle campers, he added, including boating rules. Campers from outside of the county could not pilot a boat above 5 mph on the lake.

Nine members of the audience of dozens presented comments, all expressing either concerns about or opposition to the construction of cabins. Crowding and safety at the southwest corner of the lake, with the trailer court was a concern raised by Gary Lewis, Mike Mann, and Karen Spinden. Spinden asked whether consideration had been given to building cabins on the east side of the lake. Getting utilities to cabins on the east side would be too expensive, Holub said.

Valerie Stout said she was worried by the possibility of crowds of teen-agers renting the cabins and partying.

Full-time lake resident Gordon Pendergraft reminded everyone that construction would still be required to meet setback requirements for building permits. That would be complicated, though, by the fact that the trailer court is also on the same property.

Warner reiterated her concerns about the lake’s historical designation. She said she didn’t think the proposal would pass the required review process.

Yearout cautioned the audience about being too forceful about the historical review process, because it technically applies to all property within 500 to 1,000 feet of the lake property. Warner said Yearout was “fear-mongering” before Planning Commission Chairman David Mueller called for order and for people to cease “name-calling.”

After the board closed the meeting to public comment, Richards recommended approval, conditional on historical review.

Maxwell said he thought the area west of the heated dock would be most suitable for cabins. The other areas are too crowded, he said.

“I’ve struggled with this for quite a while, thinking about it,” Planning Commission member Mary Avery said.

She said she had driven around the lake and inspected the proposed areas. Avery said that she thought cabins by the heated dock would take away from the atmosphere and appeal of the lake. North of the trailer court would be most appropriate because it fits with the area, Avery said.

Motions to recommend approval only by the heated dock and by the trailer court both failed. Planning Commission member Brad Vannocker made a motion to recommend denying a permit in all three areas, and Jim Schmidt seconded the motion. The motion passed, 5-2, with Nick Kraus and Maxwell opposed.

After the meeting, Mueller commented that the different nature of overnight rental cabins compared to seasonal and annual rentals like the mobile homes at the lake was a concern. A concrete plan and lease agreement also would have alleviated concerns, he said.

Marion County Commission will consider the recommendation at 10 a.m. May 16. The commission can either accept or overrule the Planning Commission’s decision, Yearout said.

Church variance tabled

The board, acting as the Board of Zoning Appeals, tabled a request by Alexanderfeld Mennonite Church, 1806 Holly Road, for a variance on the rear yard setback requirements.

The church wants to build an addition for a larger fellowship hall on the east side of the church. A school prevents expansion to the north, and a parking lot and cemetery prevent expansion to the south.

The addition would be about 10 feet from the property line, but the setback requirement is 50 feet. The adjacent property owner was unopposed to the construction, but didn’t want to sell any land to meet the setback requirements. The board tabled the request to allow the church and property owner a chance to negotiate a lease that would allow the proper setback without requiring a variance.

Sign approval urged

The board recommended approving a CUP for a sign for Wildcat Creek Ranch along U.S. 50.

The proposed sign would be 31 feet wide and 30 feet tall. The ranch is located at 1858 80th Road.

The County Commission will address the board’s recommendation May 16.

Last modified May 4, 2011

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