Settlement is reached in road to Swan Lake, ending two-year ownership fight
WILLMAR -- A narrow, privately owned road leading to Swan Lake in Kandiyohi Township will become a public road on Sept. 1. The decision, which was negotiated between neighboring landowners with differing interests, ends a two-year battle over own...
WILLMAR -- A narrow, privately owned road leading to Swan Lake in Kandiyohi Township will become a public road on Sept. 1.
The decision, which was negotiated between neighboring landowners with differing interests, ends a two-year battle over ownership of the road. The settlement also put to rest another lawsuit over the road.
"We reached an amicable agreement," said Larry Peart, a member of the Swan Lake Hunting Club, which owns land near a new housing development called Swan Lake Estates.
Under the agreement, the township will take over ownership of the road, which is what Swan Lake Estate owners Rick and Angee Whitcomb of Lake Lillian had wanted.
But the Whitcombs and Kandiyohi Township supervisors agreed to give up a 4-rod right of way for the road and keep the existing 3-rod right of way, although the actual travel surface of the road will be increased.
"Nobody's 100 percent happy, but it's all something we can all live with," said Peart.
"This is acceptable," said Cal Freeman, chairman of the township supervisors.
"Everybody had to give a little and we gave 16½ feet, which is a rod," said Freeman.
Wally Gustafson, the attorney representing the Whitcombs, was pleased with the agreement.
"I have to believe the Whitcombs were the successful people in this exercise," said Gustafson. Making the road public "is quite a victory for the Whitcombs."
In 2005 a judge ruled that the road that leads to the Whitcombs' six-lot residential development was privately owned and 3-rod easements were given to adjoining landowners -- including the Whitcombs, the hunting club members, Mike Peart and Andrew Lindquist.
Earlier this month, the Whitcombs asked the township to take private land by condemnation so that the road could be widened to 4 rods and be made a public road.
The township encouraged the parties to try to negotiate a settlement, which was accomplished during private meetings over the last couple weeks. The township supervisors approved the plan at their meeting Thursday.
Freeman said the board is "extremely pleased" the landowners reached a settlement, which eliminated the need for the township to take action on the Whitcombs' petition to obtain the 4-rod road through condemnation.
Peart said a resolution was finally reached when attorneys representing the two sides agreed to leave the room and the property owners hashed out the details.
Under the agreement, the width of the road's right of way will remain at 3 rods. The Whitcombs will pay to improve the road and will pay damages to Mike Peart and Andrew Lindquist for removal of trees to make the road wider.
Once the Whitcombs have built the road to township standards, the township will take over ownership on Sept. 1. At that time, the Whitcombs will terminate their petition requesting a 4-rod road.
The township will not perform any maintenance on the road until a building permit has been issued for Swan Lake Estates. The plat for the six-lot residential development was approved in February of 2006, but no homes have yet been built there.
Peart said the Whitcombs have also agreed to a covenant for a 400-foot buffer zone on part of their unplatted property that borders land owned by the hunting club. No occupied dwellings will be built in that zone, he said.
The covenant will be in place as long as the hunting club exists.