Editorial: Pickerel Lake shore is precious

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2006

As Albert Lea grows, homes will pop up on Pickerel Lake. We would encourage the city of Albert Lea and Freeborn County to require a natural buffer surrounding the lake.

The Albert Lea Planning Commission tonight takes up the matter of a proposed golf course and real estate development on the north side of the lake. This is the first major development proposed on Pickerel Lake and what happens with it will set a precedent.

To be sure, the development in the area is a good thing. Albert Lea will need a second golf course as a result of one closing last spring because its owner hopes to turn it into high-end homes. The one and only golf course has done a super job stepping up to increased demand and schedules, but Albert Lea needs the second course for attracting business as the city grows. People like recreation.

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We support the idea of a natural buffer for this project and future projects on the lake. The buffer serves to protect the shoreline habitat and the quality of the water. We also favor the buffer so that a shared-user trail can encircle the lake someday, a good idea drawn on the city&8217;s map of possible future bike routes.

The trend in homes is to be near recreational amenities. The trail and the habitat will benefit property values over the years. Trails keep adults and children healthy. Most homeowners enjoy birds and wildlife nearby. And shoreline vegetation is a natural filter that keeps water clean.

After this project, it wouldn&8217;t hurt for the city to update its old shoreline ordinance as its borders meet with more water.