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County board deals with zoning issues

Fri, Dec 14th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - Fillmore County commissioners approved the appointment of Cindy Blagsvedt to be County Assessor as of January 1 to serve out the term of retiring Robert Pickett. Blagsvedt is currently a property appraiser in the assessor's office. She has worked for the county for ten years, nine of those years working in the assessor's office. Blagsvedt will work in a provisional capacity for up to one year, after which she may be appointed for her own four year term. The County Assessor, Highway Engineer and Emergency/Veterans Affairs position are all four year appointments.

RV's and Campground Zoning Ordinance

Zoning Administrator Norman Craig discussed amendments to the ordinance dealing with campgrounds and recreational vehicles. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud was concerned about the language requiring a setback of 1,000 feet for new campgrounds or expansion of existing campgrounds from existing dwellings. He wanted the word 'expansion' removed. Commissioner Duane Bakke suggested that it should be discussed at the public hearing. Commissioner Randy Dahl insisted that campgrounds should be setback at least one thousand feet from rock quarries, as is the requirement for dwellings. Bakke agreed.

Commissioner Dahl maintained that tent campers should be of a limited number on a flood plain. He suggested that the recent sudden rise of Rush Creek exemplifies the hazard of camping in a narrow valley. Chairman Marc Prestby questioned what difference there is between twenty-five or fifty tents.

Craig noted that the definition of a recreational camping vehicle was defined further in order to include "any dwelling, temporary or permanent on wheels parked in a campground...whether manufactured totally or in part in the campground or outside the campground."

The board referred the amended zoning ordinance to the Planning Commission for a public hearing. The hearing will be held January 24 at the Planning and Zoning meeting.

A letter from MnDot sent to the Fillmore County Zoning Office was discussed with Craig. MnDot spelled out its recommendations to improve safety along the proposed Creamery restoration on MN 16 in Spring Valley. Chris Moates, MnDot Planning Director, admits in the letter that the site does not have a direct access to MN 16. He suggests the highway will still be used as the main route and is concerned about the intersection of 226th Avenue and MN 16. The county board recently approved a Conditional Use Permit for Terry Fetterly to restore the property for use as a bar and restaurant.

Bakke suspects the county has some responsibility to check out this matter as the county approved the CUP. He suggested that both the county attorney and the county engineer be asked for their advice. MnDot maintained that all roadway improvements, recommended by MnDot, would be at Terry Fetterly's and/or the city of Spring Valley's expense. Bakke questioned whether MnDot had the authority to require a turn lane off a state road to be paid for by a business owner or the city, especially when the business's access is not on that state road.

County Winter Road Maintenance

Thomas Miles and Pamela Schroeder, Highway Dept., were bombarded with complaints from the commissioners about the timeliness and the completeness of snow and ice removal. Bakke insisted that roads need to be cleared as early as possible as commuters use them as early as 5:00 a.m. Dahl, who is a rural mail carrier, asked about the shoes on the county plows. He suggested the State and Winona County peel off closer to the road surface. Prestby agreed that public safety is an issue. Dahl admitted that it is cheaper to replace the shoes than to replace the cutting edge on the blade. Commissioners were willing to expend additional funds for cleaner roads. Bakke asked about hydraulic shoes which could be changed on the go and could be adjusted from blacktop to gravel roads. Miles explained that an underbody blade for the trucks would be more effective to scrape off ice. Fillmore County trucks are not now equipped with the underbody blades.

Miles suggested that he ask about the need for the shoes. Dahl asked him to have an answer by next week's board meeting.


Commissioners gave themselves slightly under a 3% Cost of Living Adjustment, setting their salary at $19,625. Sheriff Daryl Jensen's salary will be set at $72,500 which is under his request of $74,900. Brett Corson is not being paid by the county while he is on active military duty and the salary is frozen at $79,825 at the 2007 level.

Dahl suggested that the recorder's salary should be increased by more than 3% to make it nearer the 95% average of regional counties (with the exception of Olmsted). Prestby moved that it be set at $47,500. The motion was defeated with only Prestby and Amunrud voting yes. Dahl moved to set it at $49,000. The motion was approved with Prestby and Amunrud voting no. County Recorder David Kiehne had requested $53,050.

Prestby moved to set the auditor/treasurer salary at $59,000. The motion was defeated with Prestby voting yes. Amunrud moved to set the salary at $61,000. The motion was passed with Prestby and Dahl opposed. Dahl felt it should be set at $62,000. Shirl Boelter had requested a salary of $64,500.

Other Business

• Resolutions were passed detailing the final 2008 budget and the 2008 levy. County Coordinator Karen Brown stated that there is a 5% budget increase with a 4.28% levy increase. She explained that on some proposed property tax statements, which have been sent out to property owners, in the school district portion the figures are placed on the wrong line and will be corrected in the spring statements. However, the total amounts are correct and will not be affected.

• Emergency/Veteran Affairs Director Deborah Teske asked and received approval for a Minnesota Department of Veteran Affairs Enhancement Grant for up to $25,000. The grant will be used in part to pay for the wages of the new Veteran Department staffer.

Amunrud discussed outreach for returning service personnel and the good follow up work of the National Guard. Teske noted that, unfortunately, follow up of reservists and regular army is not as good. It is up to veterans to seek help as there is not a system in place to locate veterans. Teske said that her department is only notified that these service personnel have returned.

Teske received approval to submit an application to FEMA for reimbursements of county expenses incurred after the August floods. Costs covered include overtime, squad cars, light tower, supplies, technology and the insurance deductibles borne by the county.

• Social Services Director Thomas Boyd updated the board on the progress toward County Based Purchasing. He expressed his conclusion that it has become clearer to him all the time that we (the county) need to be in this system. Amunrud said that it looks like fifty-one counties want to go to a single source which for Fillmore County would be StedFast along with Olmsted, Houston, Mower, and Winona. Amunrud expects to come to an agreement with StedFast before January 1, 2008. Boyd added that counties with metropolitan areas can't work with a single source.

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