Plans move forward for cabins at lake

A proposal from prospective developers Jim and Deborah Whitfill for cabins at Marion County Lake has prompted Marion County Commission to consider a lease agreement.

With assistance from Marion County Attorney Susan Robson and a copy of a lease agreement used by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for similar developments, the commission reviewed a document Monday that pertained to the project.

The Whitfills would like to construct up to 10 cabins, some with minimal conveniences, others with more.

Commissioner Dan Holub, who is working with the Whitfills, said the county would receive three percent of the gross revenue from the cabin rentals. The county would continue to own the land and the business owners would own the buildings.

In a memo to the commission, Robson said she was not in favor of a 25-year lease which is what the Corps allows. Holub said developers need some sort of a guarantee that the business will be allowed for an extended period of time, particularly when different commissioners are elected and decisions are rescinded.

Marion County Planning Commission also had reviewed the lease and was concerned about setback requirements to allow for emergency vehicles and equipment.

The cabins would be located on the west side of the lake, near the heated dock. They would not be in a row but in a cluster.

All costs associated with the development would be paid by the developer except a lift station by the heated dock.

The lift station has been in the works to provide more sewer operation for campers in the trailer park. Commission chairman Randy Dallke said he wondered what the improvement district will charge for water and sewer in the cabins.

Other discussions included another shower facility and a coin laundry.

Preliminary plans indicate that all of the cabins will have a front porch, fire ring, picnic table, toilet, shower, queen bed with two bunk beds, a table and four chairs, and a small refrigerator.

Some cabins will be bunk houses and others will have kitchens.

Holub said El Dorado rents cabins for $75 per night and Tuttle Creek for $60 per night. He figured average rent for the basic cabins would be $50 per night.

Dallke asked who would be responsible for reservations and keys. Holub said it would be up to the business owners who also would be responsible for upkeep of the grounds.

"We're not doing anything new here," Dallke said. The heated dock was started by an individual who then gave it to the county.

Holub said he would prefer that the county own and operate the cabins but doesn't want to compete with private enterprise.

Preliminary plans are for cabins ranging in size from 16x20-feet to 22x22-feet. All would be on slab foundations with a heating system in the floor.

Concerns were expressed about if a business owner decides to walk away or if the business is repossessed by a lending institution. Holub said he would like the county to continue operating the business but wasn't sure how that would happen if the business was in foreclosure.

Those and other issues still need to be ironed out by the county and the Whitfills.