Residents of the Tii Gavo neighborhood on Big Marine Lake who were hoping to someday have a private dock are, for now, out of luck.
Citing restrictions in a 2007 development agreement, the Scandia City Council last week denied a request from the Tii Gavo Homeowners Association to expand the community’s shared dock by adding 10 boat slips.
Council members Chris Ness and Steve Kronmiller, who both held different official roles at the time that Tii Gavo was created, argued that the original restrictions should be upheld.
Kronmiller, who was a Carnelian Marine St. Croix Watershed District manager at the time, said the current number of slips, 19, was negotiated based on a careful reading of how many potential traditional lakeshore lots might’ve been allowed under existing development laws. The watershed district, the original site developer, the city and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources all agreed on that number in order to allow some docks, yet preserve a significant vegetative buffer between the homes and the lake, he said.
Kronmiller pointed out that both the watershed district and the DNR had submitted letters opposing the dock expansion.
“I don’t know why we think the city should
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be able to come in and unilaterally change the agreement,” Kronmiller said. “This is an environmental district. … We went to extremes to make sure we were protecting the views from the lake, the quality of the lake, and the environmental area of this lake.”
Ness, who was on the city’s planning commission at the time, agreed.
“It’s a tough deal and I understand the situation about why people want this, but at the time that this created they were to have a certain amount of slips and then that was it,” Ness said.
Residents of the Tii Gavo neighborhood argued that current circumstances are creating more environmental harm than would allowing the expansion.
Sixteen of the neighborhood’s 19 boat slips are privately held by residents; the remaining three are allotted for day use. That situation creates competition among the remaining neighbors to launch at the public boat launch and claim a slip early each morning, effectively meaning more trips through the environmentally fragile Painted Turtle Bay than would otherwise occur.
Patrick Hofkes, a Tii Gavo resident, said the subdivision was created with sustainability in mind and that most of the residents want what is best for the environment.
“The one thing that we realize we did wrong was to limit slips,” said Jason Pass, a representative of Big Marine Lake Development. “We have in-fighting in the neighborhood, people racing to get to the day slips. It’s not a good situation.”
Following a well-attended public hearing on May 7, the Scandia Planning Commission agreed and recommended approval of the request.
None of the city council members was swayed by those arguments.
Councilwoman Patti Ray pointed out that the circumstances haven’t changed for any of the homeowners since their initial home purchases.
“I think you knew when you bought it that you don’t get a dock,” Ray said.
The council’s vote was unanimous.