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Fmt. zoning board grants variance

FAIRMONT — A variance request to expand the Marina Lodge received unanimous approval from the Fairmont Board of Zoning Appeals on Tuesday, clearing the way for the business to add a second story.

Scott Unke, owner of the Marina Lodge, has proposed building a second floor directly above the existing ground floor of the restaurant, including a small second-floor deck in the southwest corner of the building. The new construction would not enlarge the overall footprint of the building which now sets 36 feet from the ordinary high water level (OHWL) of Lake Sisseton, essentially where the lake begins.

Regulations for shoreland districts require that structures, including attached decks, be set back 50 feet from the OHWL, which prompted the need for a variance.

The proposal will not increase the impervious surface coverage which cannot be penetrated by rain because impervious surfaces already exist below the proposed addition, Peter Bode, Fairmont planner/code enforcement technician, told the board.

“However, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) looked at the property as a whole, and the DNR is most concerned with runoff and drainage,” he said.

The DNR’s concern about the property’s overall non-conforming coverage on the 87-foot by 170-foot lot was eased by Unke’s plan to place a 120 square foot rain garden on the property he owns across the street on Lake Avenue.

“The rain garden across the street would help remove some of the runoff to the lake,” Bode said.

A second issue arose when the city’s engineering staff reviewed the existing parking design from 2017 and discovered a section of asphalt not on the plan was installed adjacent to the parking lot closest to the building, creating an added area of impervious surface.

Unke assured the board that the asphalt would be removed and grass or landscaping would be installed.

Board members Holly Hazard, Mike Jacobson, Michael Klujeske, Susan Krueger, and Mark Westcott asked further questions about the DNR’s acceptance of the rain garden and the removal of the asphalt strip.

With no public comment on the variance request, the board voted unanimously to grant the variance contingent on the addition of the rain garden and the removal of the asphalt.

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