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County Board amends Zoning Ordinances

Sat, Mar 28th, 2009
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Fillmore County Zoning Administrator Chris Graves explained the proposed changes to the zoning ordinances to the county board at their March 24 meeting. The amendments had been recommended for approval by the Fillmore County Planning Commission after a public hearing at their February meeting.

Graves remarked that the changes should make the ordinances more consistent. Transfers of ownership of properties and businesses requiring a Conditional Use Permit (section 504) can now be transferred through an application at the Zoning Office. A public hearing will no longer be required if the conditional use is not changed. A formal process is now detailed for the revocation of a CUP. A hearing at the Planning Commission would be required for a revocation.

Graves noted that another standard for measuring criteria for variances (section 505) had been recommended by attorney Scot Anderson. Commissioner and Planning Commission member Duane Bakke explained that up until recently a "hardship" standard was applied for the "use" of a property. The additional standard of "practical difficulty" will now be applied as related to the "area" which will expand the use of the variance. This new standard would allow a variance to be granted only when enforcement of the ordinance itself would cause a "practical difficulty." This criteria was recently applied in the Steve Flynn application in Carrolton Township.

The language for the creation of a new official zoning map (section 603) was made clearer. The map shows the divisions of the county into zones or districts. The official map is the final authority "as to the current zoning status of land and water areas, buildings, and other structures in the county."

No new dwellings (section 610) will be allowed to be built on "any portion of the one-hundred year flood plain, including floodway and flood fringe whether elevated above one-hundred year flood plain or not."

With the transfer of or sale of a property the seller shall be responsible for the septic system inspection. A Certificate of Inspection (section 705) is necessary to be in compliance with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) rules. If the septic system is noncompliant an escrow account is required to establish funds to bring the system up to code. In some circumstances, a Certificate of Inspection is not required and those conditions are spelled out.

The board added to the Planning Commission's recommendation as to the process and penalties if the Certificate of Inspection is not in hand at the time of transfer of a property. Commissioner Randy Dahl remarked, "My intention is not to penalize people, but to protect people." County Recorder David Kiehne said that it wasn't the responsibility of his department to police sales by notifying the zoning office if the inspection document is not in hand on transfer.

Chairman Chuck Amunrud suggested that Graves check records for sales and transfers on a routine basis, weekly or monthly, to check and see if inspections have been done of septic systems. Bakke added that people should be given a period of time, 30 to 60 days to have the inspection done. This would set a "trigger" point when a penalty would be in order, if the inspection is still not completed.

The amendments were unanimously adopted with the addition of the zoning office regularly purging the records for sales and transfers and notifying people of their responsibility of doing the septic inspections giving them an additional opportunity to avoid being penalized. Amunrud remarked that the changes clean up a lot of the language and make the ordinances more user friendly. The changes are effective immediately.

The board unanimously adopted a new Subdivision Ordinance as recommended by the Planning Commission. As of March 24, 2009, "no new subdivision shall be permitted outside the boundaries of an incorporated municipality."


Auditor/Treasurer Shirl Boelter discussed the upcoming Passport Day. She explained that as of June 1, 2009, a passport or passport card will be needed to cross the border by land into Canada and Mexico. It takes about four weeks to receive your passport from the date of your application. For information go to Travel.State.Gov or call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778.

Other Business In Brief

• County Engineer John Grindeland was given authorization to order signs and posts to meet a federally mandated regulation that requires signs to meet the current reflectivity standard by December 31, 2012. The board approved the low quote for the first phase purchase of signs and posts of $45,231. Grindeland noted that the 3M company will reimburse a portion of the cost for the county as it will for counties nationwide.

• The Canton American Legion donated $600 for the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program. Emergency Management and Veteran Affairs Director Deborah Teske asked for and received approval to advertise for a part time Assistant Veteran Services Officer to replace Richard Darling who has resigned. The position will only be filled as long as grant funds are available from the state.

• Former County Surveyor

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