Increased commercial property on Lake Shamineau scares property owners

Auger’s Pine View Resort wants to be in compliance with zoning regulations

By Tina SnellStaff Writer

Residents of Lake Shamineau are not happy with the prospect of Auger’s Pine View Resort becoming zoned shore land commercial property.

The resort, located on the southwest corner of Lake Shamineau, has been operated by the Auger family since 1974. They have built up their family business by updating cabins, adding a lodge and providing camping for their guests.

Morrison County Planning and Zoning Administrator Amy Kowalzek said that in July 2012, the Augers applied for a conditional use permit (CUP) to tear down a one-story cabin with the purpose of erecting a two-story one on the same spot, only increasing the footprint by a small amount.

Because of the application, the Morrison County Planning and Zoning Department ran density calculations and discovered the resort was over in density in Tier 2 where the resort has a large number of camper trailers.

Tier 1 on any property is the first 200 feet back from the lake shore. Tier 2 is the next 267 feet back from Tier 1. Tier 3 is another 267 feet back from Tier 2 and so on.

Auger’s Resort is not currently out of compliance for density in Tier 2 as it was operating under a CUP for the camping area.

“As ordinances change, rules protect what was in existence prior to the change,” said Kowalzek. “The resort was considered a legal non-conformity.”

But, Kowalzek said the game changes when proposing expansion.

“Auger’s Resort could have continued as it was as long as the owners didn’t intensify, expand or enlarge,” she said.

Because the Augers asked for a CUP to expand, the county may enforce the current standard in the ordinance.

“A landowner cannot be over in density and ask for expansion,” Kowalzek said. She told the Augers to move ahead with the cabin, but they would need to address the density problem eventually.

“That’s what they are doing now,” she said. “There would not be any more expansion until it’s addressed.”

“All we want to do is to get the resort to where it should be with the county,” said Mike Auger, co-owner of Auger’s Pine View Resort.

The Augers have three choices to continue with their expansion of one cabin. They can reduce the number of structures in Tier 2, they can seek a variance to exceed the density in Tier 2 or they can rezone all or a portion of their shore land residential parcel to allow more square footage for the calculation of its Tier 2 density.

The Augers have chosen to rezone their property shore land commercial.

Currently, Auger’s Resort occupies four parcels; three are already zoned shore land commercial and one 31.18 acre parcel is zoned mostly shore land residential with about two acres zoned shore land commercial. That is the parcel the family wishes to rezone.

“All the property the Augers are now using for their resort is zoned shore land commercial,” said Kowalzek. “The residential portion is sitting idle.”

Many of the property owners on Lake Shamineau are against the parcel becoming shore land commercial. They are afraid that it will give carte blanche to the Augers to do whatever they want to increase the size of their business. They said that would be detrimental to the lake.

A petition against the rezoning was signed by more than 200 people and delivered to the Planning and Zoning Commission during its March meeting when commission members voted 3 – 2 to recommend the rezoning to the Morrison County Commissioners. Also delivered to the Commission was a letter from the Department of Natural Resources in opposition to the change. About 40 people attended the meeting.

Property owner Dale Williams said the lake shore owners oppose the rezoning to commercial because, he said, it will give the Augers the green light to grow and nothing can stop it.

Morrison County Commissioner Kevin Mauer said what he has heard from the land owners around Lake Shamineau are concerns that the Augers will build hotels, lodges, restaurants on the property and the county will have no control. And if the Augers don’t, if they ever sell, the new owners could.

“We were flabbergasted that the Planning Commission passed the rezoning,” Williams said. “We hope it’s just a misunderstanding on their part. My impression is the resort is at capacity now. If it grows, so will the problems. There are problems now with drainage and water quality in the resort area.”

Williams said with all the rooftops and impervious surfaces around the resort, all water runs into the lake. It has to go somewhere since it doesn’t go into the ground.

Mike and Tom Auger disagree with that statement. They said the resort’s Tier 1 is on low land and the water pools with snow melt and heavy rains. But there is no culvert or trench allowing that water to rush to the lake. It sits and soaks into the ground.

The area across the road does have water run down hill toward the lake, but what doesn’t soak in, pools at the bottom and again, soaks into the ground.

The Web site petition says, “Auger’s Resort has exceeded their building density and are asking for a zoning change to allow more RV trailers and cabins on their site.”

That is not what Planning Commissioner Tom Crawford said would happen.

“I asked the Augers if they plan to expand and they said ‘no,’” said Crawford. “If they do plan to expand, they will again exceed density limits and will have to apply for a CUP.”

Crawford said that he felt the request was based on the density issue alone and that the Augers just want to be in compliance with zoning regulations.

“The Augers depend on a clean lake to keep their customers returning, just as much as the residents do,” he said.

The Morrison County Commissioners will vote Tuesday on whether to uphold the Planning Commission’s recommendations or not. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the County Commissioner’s Board Room on the second floor of the Morrison County Government Center. The public is welcome to attend.