The dispute over whether a Medicine Lake shoreline owner can build a dock is continuing after the Plymouth Planning Commission denied Dan Gustafson’s request to build a dock on his unusual 5-foot-wide plot of land.
The Minnetonka resident bought the narrow strip of lakeshore — a leftover old fire lane wedged between two lake homes — two years ago just so he could dock his boat there instead of buying a lake home or renting a boat slip. The city argues it would be too close to his neighbors.
On Tuesday, the Planning Commission unanimously approved a change that allows docks on land that doesn’t have a principal building — like a house — because, the city said, they already have allowed properties to do that and docks are unique, seasonal structures. That would grant Gustafson approval for his dock, except that the commission said the dock would only be allowed if it’s placed 6 feet or more from the side lot lines — a requirement Gustafson’s 5-foot-wide and 100-foot-long property won’t meet.
“This isn’t just about Mr. Gustafson, it’s about everybody who has lake right access,” Jim Erickson, Gustafson’s lobbyist, told the commission..
The city says the setback rules are needed to prevent conflict between property owners and protect their rights. Gustafson’s two neighbors, who also have an attorney, are encouraging the city to reject the dock because it would impede their land.
“That doesn’t make sense; those neighbors bought their property knowing that lot was for sale,” Gustafson said after the meeting.
Now, he’s returning to City Hall on April 22 to argue his case again to the City Council, saying that he’s being deprived of his riparian rights as a lake property owner.
The City Council will consider the Planning Commission’s recommendation at the April 22 meeting; the council had denied his appeal last October. If that happens again Tuesday, Gustafson said he’ll go to court to get a judge’s interpretation of the laws.
“It’s going to be a question of whether they want to work on it on the front end,” he said, “ … or [in] legal action.”