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JPB gives green light to lakeshore docks

BEMIDJI — The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a permit for a project that could put public boat docks on the south shore of Lake Bemidji as soon as this summer.

The plan calls for a total of 108 boat slips to be put in at two docks, gradually constructed in segments. As presented to the JPB by Planning Administrator Mayana Rice and Bemidji City Manager John Chattin, the first segment of 20 docks will be put in near the Sanford Center and future Country Inn & Suites hotel.

The marina idea had been treading water for months as the city waited for development plans for the hotel to solidify. Now that the JPB has approved the project, planners will notify the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and hopefully get them to sign off on the project as well, Chattin said. Construction can begin after the DNR gives the go-ahead, he added. The city budgeted $100,000 in 2013 for the initial docks, money which Chattin said is still available. Those 20 slips might be all the city needs for a while, he said.

“I think if we put 20 slips down on the east end, I don’t think we’ll be adding any (more) slips for quite some time until additional housing is built,” he said.

The second dock will be put in near the existing public boat launch and DoubleTree Hilton Hotel. Rich Siegert, whose company owns the DoubleTree, spoke in opposition to the project at the meeting. He said the project would be too expensive for the city and more study was needed. He added the planned dock near the DoubleTree may interfere with his hotel.

“I’m expressing a lot of caution on this thing,” Siegert said. “If there’s a dock that goes out 300 feet from Nymore beach, I’d be really concerned…that would affect boating, recreational boating, tubing… around our properties.”

Chattin said no formal management plan exists yet for how the docks will be operated, but he intends to base the plan on manuals provided by a statewide association of marinas.

He acknowledged moving and storing the docks in the fall may get expensive for the city as it adds onto the initial 20 slips. He said planners hoped the price to dock users would be less than $1000 per lease.

Zach Kayser
Zach Kayser covers local government and city issues for the Pioneer. He previously worked for the Wadena Pioneer Journal, and is an alumni of the University of Minnesota, Morris. 
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