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Board of Adjustment hears dispute over variance

Mon, Sep 1st, 2014
Posted in All Government

Board of Adjustment Hears Dispute Over Variance

The Fillmore County Board of Adjustment at their August 21 meeting held a somewhat contentious public hearing over a variance to construct a new dwelling on land with a crop equivalency rating or CER greater than 65.

Richard Junge had applied for a variance to place a dwelling on his property located in Section 19, Preston Township on August 1. The property is in the Ag District. The 26 foot x 48 foot house was moved in and placed in a location prior to the hearing. Junge explained that placement of the house was limited due to the quarter-quarter rule. The site chose by Junge was mostly in a waterway of a soybean field.

Zoning administrator Chris Graves explained that if a location has not been cropped for at least a ten year period, according to the county ordinance, it can be built on. The location where this house is sitting now is in a soybean field, so the variance is required. Graves later suggested that the 10 year non-cropping rule to make land buildable may have to be looked at.

No one from the township board commented on the application. However, many of the owners of neighboring properties spoke against granting the variance. Steve Halverson was skeptical of the fact that the house was already sitting there, complaining that now you are asking for a variance. He stated flatly, “I’m not in favor of this variance.”

Gene Smith, Nagel son-in-law, had a series of questions for Junge and Graves. Graves explained that the issue before them now is where the house is already located. Another neighbor was concerned about where the septic system would be located because she lived down the hill. Graves assured her that the zoning department will make sure that run off from the system will not be an issue.

Todd Nagel asked about an alternative location near CR 16. Graves explained that a location near the road isn’t an option due to the quarter-quarter rule. Joyce Nagel asked about the amount of cropland being used for a planned, long driveway.

Regina Blong spoke in support of Junge insisting it is his farm land, why should anyone care if he destroys it.

Halverson maintained that the finest of hairs are being split to say this is not a waterway (where the house is sitting). Smith asked the commission to consider Article 6 of the county’s erosion ordinance. Graves turned the discussion back to the reason for the requested variance. He said the location where the house is sitting has been cropped and that is why we are here tonight.

Board member Steve Duxbury discussed issues Junge may have at this location, in the event of a heavy rain event. Board member Gary Ruskell said he would like to see the house moved up the hill some, where it will still satisfy the quarter-quarter rule. He admitted more cropland will be used, but it will diminish some of the water runoff concerns. Graves said it could be moved up the hill as much as 100 feet.

Board member Marvin Kuhn reasoned if the house is moved away from the waterway, it will take more cropland. Junge complained about the additional cost to move the house and to prepare another site, adding that the natural flow runs on the south side of the waterway. Now only one-third of the house sits on the tilled soybean field, the rest on the grass. Board member Brad Erickson maintained that moving the house west and north would be to Junge’s benefit. Kuhn warned that the rains in recent years have caused terrible flooding. He said his concern is to keep it out of flood zones.

Junge said the waterway at this point only drains 12 acres and the land has only a CER rating of 75. He insisted his intention is to use the least amount of farmland. The house was only moved in part onto the tilled soybean field to provide adequate drainage.

Kuhn made a motion to deny the variance which resulted in a tie vote, so the motion failed. Ruskell voted no with Kuhn.

Ruskell said he understands that Junge placed the house where it would take the least amount of cropland. Ruskell moved that the house be moved a minimum of 30 foot north or up to 100 feet north, keeping within the bounds of the quarter-quarter rule. The variance was approved with these conditions. Kuhn voted against.

A 25 foot variance from the required road setback (Fawn Drive) was approved for Vernon and Renee Hasleiet, Lanesboro, Carrolton Township, to build a garage. There were no comments from the township supervisors or the public.

Planning Commission

Yost Hershberger, Section 9, Canton Township, requested a conditional use permit for a sawmill. He said it is to be built for one of his boys, Aaron, to do custom sawing. There were no comments from the township supervisors or the public. Duane Bakke noted parking is to be off road, no loading or unloading on the road. The commission recommended approval and sent the request to the county board for their consideration in early September.

A public hearing was held on a proposed change to the county’s soil erosion ordinance, Section 9.0 Woodland Activities, which pertains to tree clearing of 10,000 square feet or more of woodland to convert to another use. Graves said at this time there is a duplication of duties, Zoning and SWCD/NRCS. He noted that he is not a soil erosion specialist and decisions should be left up to the people who know more about it. There was no comment from the public. A motion to send the language change to the county board for their consideration was approved. If the language change is approved by the county board, a permit will no longer be needed from the zoning office for this activity.

The commission discussed a proposed change to the Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance concerning rezoning from Ag to Residential in the Ag District. A public hearing will be held on the language change at the September 18 meeting. The proposed language of Section 604.01 #1 (Prohibited Uses) would read: “Any activity that would require a change in the Zoning Map from the Ag District to a Residential Agricultural District, Single & Two-Family Residential District, Commercial District or an Industrial District unless it is within one-half mile of city limits.” The intention of the new language will prevent the rezoning in the Ag District from Ag to Residential unless within one-half mile of a city limits.

The commission had an extensive discussion on the requirement for a variance to replace an existing home with a new home if the location does not conform with the zoning ordinance, for example, an inadequate set back from a feedlot. No action was taken.

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