Backus: Residents, resort owner appear to reach a balance
Person-to-person discussion may finally put resort grievances to bed.
What began as a somewhat lively back and forth ended with all parties seeming to be in agreement at the Monday, May 3, Backus City Council meeting after Bayside Resort owner Troy Watring addressed all questions the council and resort neighbors posed.
Continuing discussion and debate surrounding an issue first addressed at the November council meeting, neighbors voiced frustrations over topics, including permitting for expansions on the resort property, parking overflow with vehicles and boat trailers, wrong way traffic on Lillian Boulevard, private property encroachment by guests and a concern regarding boat inspections at the resort boat launch.
"I like seeing your resort. I like it being clean. I don't like all the cars and boats going out and I just don't want people on my shoreline," one resident summarized as the discussion neared conclusion.
The issue first came to the council's attention when some saw what appeared to be additional trailer camping spots being added at the resort near the lake. Residents then noted extremely congested parking on both sides of the street, traffic and other issues.
Watring said at that time he was merely testing the possible relocation of camping spaces that are already spread across his property in other areas. He said he had been given misinformation that the relocation wouldn't need permits and did not become aware of any complaints until after they had gone before the council.
"I didn't know about this," Watring said before promising to give the neighbors his contact information.
Since that initial meeting, Watring hired a professional surveyor to check setbacks, density of soils and other requirements in that area to determine if he qualified for a permit.
City Clerk Ann Swanson reported the survey found that the permit met requirements and Watring could request a conditional use permit retroactively. The council mentioned possibly addressing the CUP request at the June meeting.
Watring said he would not use the same layout as was seen in 2020. He believed residents would be pleasantly surprised, suggesting that adjustments made based on what he learned from the 2020 test run might alleviate some residents' concerns.
For example, one site will not be used going forward. Some residents, reviewing illustrations of the plans, agreed it looked like it could be an improvement.
"It looks very different from what we observed last summer," a resident said.
That person later said Watring has been accommodating whenever they have been able to speak in person.
"I'm not here to make anybody upset or anything," Watring said. "I will work with anybody. I've worked with the mayor, and anything they've asked me to do, I've done."
Council member Karl Flier took the reins during times when people began speaking over one another early on, and later laid out a bullet point list of what should be done to appease both parties.
"Somebody needs to be supervising and policing this place," Flier said. "We need to work together to make this town boom if we can."
Flier recapped what he would like to see, including:
- Providing neighbors with contact information for Watring and a local resident who sometimes works with him in a supervisory or caretaking capacity so residents may call to resolve issues.
- Having someone check boats before they are put into the water and after they are removed to prevent risk of invasive species. Watring said the caretaker might be able to fill this requirement at times.
- Installing signs on one side of Rosalind directing parking on that side only.
- Keeping visitors from parking trailers on Rosalind.
Watring agreed to most conditions but said that boats rarely come in and out of the water, and it would be too expensive to hire someone to specifically check boats all the time. He also agreed to find some way of communicating do's and don'ts to his guests.
They also discussed traffic control measures on Lillian Boulevard, which is a one-way street, possibly including a "do not enter" sign on one end of the street, additional one-way street signs and speed bumps. Council members said they would take that into consideration.
Addressing the issue of guests mistaking a nearby hillside and private dock for resort property, Flier asked if that property was posted "private" and was told it was not. The council and residents discussed the possibility of adding signs to that effect.
One resident did suggest there may be a state statute that could limit expansion of the camping spaces, and provided documentation for further review.
The meeting was also able to put to rest a rumor pertaining to Doug Taylor's float plane that docks at the resort. A rumor suggested someone saw him de-icing his floats on the lake and that he may have been using chemicals to de-ice. Taylor, who was present, clarified it was just warm water.
Before leaving, Watring and several residents continued to chat.
In other business Monday, the council:
- Learned that call volume to the Cass County Sheriff's Office doubled in the county; however, increased presence in town seems to have kept calls down.
- Learned from the fire chief that conditions are still dry after the department was called to cover a Pine River grass fire over the weekend because the Pine River department was simultaneously responding to two other calls. Those fires began with burning for garbage disposal.
- Agreed to request a quote from Schrupp Excavating to check a sewer line that froze at the airport over the winter.
- Approved a 2021 improvement contract for the airport, including installation of a new water heater and flooring, packing and rolling the runway, and installation of a new, updated lock system for $11,546.70 with grant funding to cover 95% of the costs. The city chose to do more research into a possible $14,241.65 camera system.
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.