At the February 7 meeting of the county board, commissioners set a public hearing for February 28, at 10 a.m., for possible action on an interim moratorium regarding the sale of edible cannabinoid products and/or hemp derived THC food and beverages.
A proposed interim ordinance and moratorium will be considered at this meeting. The county is considering an interim moratorium to study issues related to the manufacture, sale, labeling, testing, licensing, and distribution of hemp derived products. The intention is to establish guidelines and put them into place to regulate these products.
Interested persons can get copies of the proposed interim moratorium on the county’s website or at the administrator’s office. All interested persons are invited to attend the public hearing in person or virtually. Those wishing to comment at the hearing must attend the hearing in person.
If the board puts a moratorium in place, it will likely be for a short period of time. Commissioner Duane Bakke expressed his concern related to putting a temporary moratorium in place, as this will be a moratorium for a product that can already be sold legally.
Disaster abatement appeal
Marco Scieora, Berwood Hill Inn, LLC in Lanesboro, appeared before the board to appeal a denial of a disaster abatement. The storm damage to the commercial property occurred April 12, 2022. The business reopened October 1, 2022. The abatement request of the property tax liability was filed October 27, 2022, and was denied on October 31, 2022. The assessor’s office did not get to physically look at the damage prior to repair, but instead reviewed the property owner’s documentation of the damage. A disaster abatement is only available in the event it is determined that 50% or more of the structure has been destroyed. The owner should apply to the county assessor “as soon as practicable.”
County Assessor Jason McCaslin reviewed the information provided by the owner and determined that 38% of the building was destroyed; this did not meet the required 50% threshold. The damage assessment calculated by McCaslin was $112,300 which also happens to be more than the insurance payout.
Scieora presented his argument before the board for well over a half hour. He had sent additional pictures and information on December 13, which he believed showed more than 50% damage. He added that there was also damage to a deck which will likely cost more than $20,000 to repair. He added repairs will likely total $160,000 or more, when done. To date, he said he hasn’t been able to get a contractor to repair deck damage. Scieora noted he also lost business April through October.
McCaslin said a property ideally should be inspected prior to repair. Scieora insisted the assessor’s review of damage was inaccurate. As to the late filing of the abatement request, it was necessary to repair the roof immediately to protect the building. He said he was challenging the information used for the original damage assessment, as it was incomplete. All additional information provided December 13 was reviewed by the assessor; it did not change his estimate.
A motion was approved unanimously to deny the appeal. Scieora claimed that they had failed to provide justification for the decision. McCaslin said Scieora had taken his complaint to the Department of Revenue. They found no wrongdoing on the part of the assessor’s office.
Other business in brief
•A public hearing was held at the January 19 meeting of the planning commission. K. Rodney Beer had submitted an application for a sand pit in York Township. The commission recommended approval with one condition, no blasting. After some discussion, the board approved the conditional use permit with six added conditions. The sand pit will produce only construction grade materials which Beer intends to use as fill for projects including building pads and driveways.
•Closeout of 2022 Shoreland grant funds in the amount of $2,692 was approved. All funds had been expended.
•Closeout of 2022 Septic Treatment (BWSR) grant funds in the amount of $18,600 was approved. All funds had been expended.
•The 2023 Natural Resources Block grant agreement for septic treatment systems, which expires December 31, 2024, was approved.
•Terry Schultz presented two quotes for the replacement of a 50-gallon gas water heater in the courthouse boiler room. The low quote submitted by Canton Heating & Cooling LLC was accepted in the amount of $12,293.04.
•The purchase of survey equipment for the county surveyor department from Frontier Precision at a total cost of $42,668.02 was approved.
•The hire of Heather Broadwater as the replacement auditor/treasurer was approved.
•2023 electronic devise stipends were approved, costing a total of $7,500.
•Tim Jeanetta appeared for negotiation and review of the 2023 Law Enforcement Labor Services, Inc. union proposal. Discussed changes will be brought back to the membership. The agreement will be considered at the February 14 board meeting.
•The county board will next meet on February 14.