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Cerro Gordo supervisors approved multi-family housing development in rural Clear Lake

CLEAR LAKE — The Cerro Gordo County Board of Supervisors this week approved a zoning change to allow two, three-unit housing structures to be constructed on land in rural Clear Lake.

JMS Property Management had last year originally asked to place eight units on land at 4737 South Shore Drive, next to the Clear Lake Boats facility near the Bell Harbor development. That original plan was altered with modifications made to the site plan with issues about drainage being addressed. A conditional zoning agreement also mandates that the minimum time someone could rent one of the units was 30 days and that the company would leave as many existing mature trees as possible on the site.

Lou Wherspann of WHKS has worked for JMS on the project and says the design, which includes a retention basin and addresses issues with drainage tile lines, actually reduces the runoff from the property.  “The 100-year proposed runoff of 1.9 cfs for the site here is the same as the existing 10-year runoff from the site, and is actually a reduction from 4.7 cfs in a 100-year event. So we’re seeing reductions across the board for runoff which will help the overall situation for the area. There will be less runoff from this site. We’ll be detaining water in that retention basin and releasing that slowly over time so that you attenuate those peak events that happen during rainfall events where the water backs up.”

Attorney Jacqueline Arthur represents JMS and says they’ve listened to concerns about the proposal.  “In summary, we believe this is a well designed project. As you can see from what we are presenting this morning, we have listened carefully, we have taken the input that we have received from your planning & zoning commissions, meetings from your consideration last fall, from the neighbors, and we have put in place a plan that we believe is a benefit to the neighborhood by improving the drainage.”

The objections raised during a public hearing about the zoning change were all from Bell Harbor residents. Dennis Oelberg says major rain events impact the area, no matter how well the drainage system is addressed with the JMS proposal.  “The engineer for WHKS here has figured out numbers on average. We don’t have average. We have events, and events are the ones that cause a lot of problems with the tile. Two inches, three inches of rain, all the runoff on South Shore Drive goes out to that tile on the south side of the road. Average is ok, that makes great, that looks good on numbers, but events don’t. The tile gets full and of course it backs up and then it stays stagnant for quite a while.”

Kathy Moore says she’s worried about increased traffic in the area and potential security concerns for the Bell Harbor neighborhood.   “If it would be that multi-family starts to become an issue, and we’re seeing more of that, Bell Harbor as a community for our liability may need to be looking at something like a gated community, which means putting gates up at our entrances. If you think about that, that is only going to cause more backup on that South Shore, and it would all be because we are putting multi-family in there and really bottlenecking.”

The supervisors unanimously approved changing the zoning from single-family residential to multi-family residential.

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