Herald JournalHerald Journal, Sept. 13, 2004

Native burial grounds may be at planned development for south shore of Lake Ann

By Jane Otto

A better road design and possible Native Indian burial mounds in the Lake Ann area created a slight snag for a potential 19-lot development there.

The Brainerd-based Taylor Investments seeks an OK for its 130-acre preliminary plat that would put 19 homes along Lake Ann’s southern edge.

About one mile east of Wright County Road 6, Lake Ann is almost an equal distance from Winsted and Howard Lake.

“The preliminary plat is where you review all the environment issues and other concerns the county might have,” said Tom Salkowski, Wright County’s planning and zoning administrator. “The final plat is ministerial.”

In April, Wright County approved rezoning the land from agricultural to agricultural-residential, as well as OK’ing the developer’s concept for a rural planned unit development district in August. Those approvals increased the number of houses that can be built there.

In most rural areas, Wright County allows one house per 40 acres, but a planned unit development can have 10-acre lots or a maximum of six units per 40 acres, Salkowski said.

Burial mounds

The Aug. 26 planning commission meeting, at which the plat was first reviewed, threw a few curves in Taylor Investments’ platting process.

The planning commission learned that the state archeologist suspects burial mounds may exist in the area. In his years as a zoning administrator, Salkowski can’t remember this happening before, he said Thursday.

“My understanding is that there’s no reason they can’t develop around it,” Salkowski said. “They just have to respect the burial sites.”

The state’s private cemeteries act protects all human burial grounds and remains older than 50 years, whether on public or private lands or waters, including ancient Indian burial mounds and cemeteries.

State Archaeologist Mark Dudzik was scheduled to meet with the developer Thursday to determine if the development’s location will encroach the burial mounds.

When asked if the site would be examined, Dudzik replied, “That’s a possibility, if things look like they might overlap . . . It’s one step at a time to sort things out.”

Neither Dudzik nor Chris Denns with Taylor Investments were available for comment following their meeting Thursday.

In addition to historical burial mounds, the plat’s three cul-de-sacs are concern for the township. Cul-de-sacs are difficult to maintain, Victor Township Supervisor Greg Bakeberg said.

“They will be tarred, but we’ll still have to plow them,” Bakeberg said. “What do you do with the snow when you come around the cul-de-sac?”

Another hitch in the road design is that the 130 acres is split by a privately owned parcel. The developer will meet with the Victor Township Board at 8 p.m. tonight to discuss the possible solutions.

The town hall is at the intersection of Wright County roads 6 and 30.

Concern for the lakeshore

A Lake Ann resident and lake association member, Tom Hammer, expressed concern at the Aug. 26 meeting about 19 homes on the lake, which he said is on the state’s impaired water list. He asked the commission to consider community sewers versus private septic systems.

Salkowski said Thursday the homes will be have private septic systems. His office, however, hasn’t seen the soil tests. Some lots have steep slopes and bluffs and might not be able to handle a septic system, he said.

Hammer also wants the number of homes reduced and the lots widened to 200 feet.

“He’s right,” Salkowski said. “Some lots are small and we’ll take a look at it.”

Hammer’s goal is to have the county approve the preliminary plat based on a planned unit development’s intent, which is to protect agricultural resources and the environment.

The developer will have covenants that will restrict potential landowners from doing “certain things” to the shoreline, Hammer said. “The lake association is trying to work with the developer to minimize impact to the shoreline.”

The Planning Commission will meet 9 a.m. Thursday Oct. 21 in Buffalo to take another look at the preliminary plat.

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