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On motion by Bakke...


Mon, May 15th, 2000
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Monday, May 15, 2000

Many sentences in this week's official Fillmore County commissioner meeting minutes will read: On motion by Bakke...

With commissioner Robert Underbakke absent, and an agenda filled with a long list of rock quarry and sand pit permits, someone had to step up to the plate to make motions. Commissioner Duane Bakke was involved in 31 motions (13 of which were seconds to motions). Commissioner Donald Boyum was in-volved in 21 motions and commissioner Helen Bicknese 16. On the day, there were only four motions made by the entire county board that Bakke was not involved in.

Meanwhile, chairman Gary Peterson kept moving things along like an umpire calling balls and strikes. Nonetheless, this turned into an extra inning game, finishing at 2:20 p.m.

Zoning The board approved changes to the zoning ordinance following a public hearing by the planning commission. Most of the amendments involved re-defining terminology to reflect present day realities. For example, livestock was updated to include more exotic animals such as llama, emu, deer, elk and chinchilla.

One major change would require seed dealers, who generate more than 50% of their total farm income from seed sales, to get a conditional use permit (CUP). In fact, the board approved a CUP for Jason Schwarz to operate a seed warehouse in Fountain Township.

Other changes would allow conditional uses for a mobile home to be used as a third farm home and require permitting of sawmills that are used for other than non-farm use. This latter amendment could have an impact on many Amish sawmills that do contract work for other businesses. The planning commission is expected to look into holding hearings on sawmill regulations in the near future. Commissioner Bakke said that he would like to see sawmills get CUPs every five years, similar to rock quarries.

On another zoning matter, the board voted unanimously to approve a CUP for Wayne Ristau to operate a farm equipment repair business in Preston Township. Attorney Dave Joerg, representing Bluff Country Equipment of Preston, told the board that while they didn't oppose the CUP being granted, they would like certain conditions placed on the permit.

Joerg recommended that the board require the property to be screened from neighbors and that the operation comply with any MPCA regulations regarding the handling of materials.

In the end, the board chose not to add these conditions. Bakke didn't think that screening was necessary as the operation is set back from the road. He also said that no neighbors had raised any objections about the location of the shop.

Commissioner Boyum questioned the jurisdiction of the county applying MPCA conditions on a local permit. "The MPCA can come in at any time," Boyum said. "Adding this would make us the governor of MPCA laws."

The board approved rezoning 2.5 acres in Preston Township from commercial to agriculture for the purposes of granting the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints a conditional use permit to operate a place of worship. The rezoning was necessary as their are no provisions in the zoning ordinance for places of worship in a commercial district.

County Pay Plan When Chairman Peterson asked Robert Bjorkland to report on the latest with the wage study, he responded that he didn't come prepared to discuss anything. "I'm here on my nickel to address your issues and answer your questions," Bjorkland responded.

When Commissioner Helen Bicknese asked a question about the salary range of the engineering tech position, Bjorkland responded, "You hire an outside party to give you an objective, unbiased, professional observation. I've done that."

Bjorkland went on to explain that if you look at the market data alone, the salary for the engineering tech position falls within the market average. "So even if we evaluated the position correctly, the market information indicates that the engineering tech position is slotted at the appropriate level," Bjorkland said to Bicknese.

Bjorkland advised that the board take the plan in total for the most part. "If changes are made, you have to be clear why, as there is a cascading effect," he said. "If people come to you and say that the pay plan is not competitive, that is wrong. It is consistent with the market identified."

The board is expected to finalize the pay plan at next week's meeting.

County Engineer The county board made an offer to hire Steve Voigt as the county engineer for a one year period at a salary of $61,000 beginning May 15.

The board also authorized Voigt to use a county vehicle for work purposes only. County policy stipulates that county vehicles cannot be used for personal use.

Dust control The board briefly visited the county dust control policy drafted in April 1999. The plan called for spring sign-up, with the county bidding out calcium chloride application to a private contractor. At the time it was drafted there appeared to be little interest by townships or private residences in the plan. And now with the county engineer coming in, the board felt it wasn't the time to revive the plan. The board agreed to put the plan away and look at it again next year.

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