The Fillmore County Planning Commission met on October 26. A public hearing was held on the proposed county buffer enforcement ordinance.
Duane Bakke explained the county changed its shoreland ordinance last year to match the state’s buffer law language. The ordinance being discussed this day details the county’s authority to enforce the buffer ordinance. The language in the ordinance is from a model ordinance drafted by the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR). Bakke said we basically filled in the blanks with a few minor changes after review by the county attorney and then BWSR.
The deadline for landowners to come into compliance or have a plan in place to come into compliance is November 1, 2017. Bakke added that there will be times when landowners go out of compliance.
The purpose of the buffer ordinance is to protect rivers, streams, wetlands, and groundwater in Fillmore County. A 50-foot average buffer is required with a 30-foot minimum buffer. No cultivation farming which removes permanent vegetation growth is permitted. Pasture, hay ground, CRP, and recreational uses are permitted. Compliance will be determined by SWCD on a parcel to parcel basis.
The county will consult with SWCD to determine a course of action when there is potential noncompliance with buffer requirements. SWCD will evaluate and then provide written determination to landowner, county, and BWSR. The ordinance lists steps to be taken to enforce compliance when there has been noncompliance. Failure to comply constitutes a misdemeanor. Each day of noncompliance is a separate offense. Monetary penalties after 11 months of the issuance of a corrective action will be applied and continue until there is compliance. There is an appeal process.
Anne Koliha, SWCD engineering technician/conservation planning, said it is unclear if required buffer areas that are out of compliance can then be put into the conservation reserve program (CRP). Only land that has a cropping history can be enrolled in CRP. Bakke added he didn’t know if land would be eligible for reenrollment after 10 years in the program. However, CRP is considered a crop.
There was no comment from the public at the hearing. A motion to send the ordinance to the county board for their consideration was approved.
Agricultural Tourism Business
A proposed sixth condition to 739.02 Agricultural Tourism Business was noted: Must provide proof of liability insurance. A motion was approved to hold a public hearing on the additional language at a planning commission meeting in one of the coming months. No date was set.