Fairmont, Minnesota 56031

(507) 399-0060


Issues: Campground

There have been proposals for a campground in Fairmont for several years. None of them really went much of anywhere, despite some community interest. The current Ward 1 councilmember, Bruce Peters, has wanted a campground in the city for his entire two terms in office, but hasn't been able to make it happen.


The current proposal, from the Carlson Walters Group, is for a mixed development, with a 200-space campground, 26 residential lots, a marina, and a restaurant/bar. It would be built on a piece of what is currently farmland at the northwest end of George Lake. The developers claim that their project will bring large economic benefits to the city.


Unfortunately, their proposal is at best half-baked. They have done essentially no real planning: no engineering studies, no market studies, no documentation of anything that is normal in the development process. They claim that they shouldn't have to do any of that until their project is approved. There's also the major problem that they have no current access to their property except down two crowded residential streets, where a 40-foot motorhome towing an SUV, as is common in the camping world, would have an extremely hard time maneuvering.


The neighbors were, rightly, up in arms about this proposal. They succeeded in getting first the Planning Commission, and then the City Council, to turn down the requested rezoning of the property. To make matters worse, the principals of Carlson Walters Group then spread liquid manure on the property 11 times over the space of three weeks, and didn't deal with basics like incorporating the manure into the soil. This caused a massive odor problem, which in turn led the Council to adopt an emergency ordinance banning application of manure inside the city limits.


At this point, it is clear that not only is the Carlson Walters Group a really bad neighbor, but that they have no real idea how a real developer goes about developing property. They don't seem to understand how to get their ducks in a row before presenting a proposal. In short, I do not believe they are qualified to develop the campground as things stand now.


Update, August 3, 2022: The Planning Commission voted last night to rezone the western half of the land to a designation that would permit a campground to be built there - but it's not an approval to build the campground, by itself. They will need to approve a conditional use permit for the campground to actually be built, and at that time, they can impose all of the requirements they should, such as access to the site - that is, if they approve it at all.


I believe that a campground would be an asset to the city of Fairmont. I do not believe the current proposal should be approved by the city.