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County Board deals with zoning issues

Fri, Nov 9th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - An array of zoning issues were discussed by the county board at their November 6 meeting. Zoning Administrator Norman Craig asked the board to consider a resolution to amend Section 7, subpart 721 of the county ordinance dealing with requirements for a Conditional Use Permit for quarries, open pits or impounded waters.

Donna Rasmussen, Soil and Water Conservation District, discussed with the board related items in a publication on Hydraulic Impacts of Quarries and Gravel Pits which was drawn up for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Water Division in 2005. The zoning ordinance asks that applicants provide a geological survey and a Karst Investigation as defined by the DNR. Jeff Green who helped prepare the DNR publication has encouraged language in ordinances that will require this kind of investigation for gravel pits. The problem for the board was that the DNR publication doesn't define exactly what is needed for the geological survey and the Karst Investigation.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud noted that their intent was to require the survey and Karst Investigation. Commissioner Duane Bakke moved that the board adopt the resolution with subpart 721.05 of section 7 being amended to require the applicant to supply a geological survey and a Karst Investigation based on the DNR recommendations in their publication dealing with Hydraulic Impacts of Quarries and Gravel Pits. The motion was approved and Section 7, subpart 721 was adopted. A hearing was held for public comment on October 18 on this section. The Fillmore County Planning Commission recommended adoption of these amendments.

Knud Jorgensen Agreement

County Attorney Brett Corson had drafted an agreement between Fillmore County, Sumner Township, and Knud Jorgensen. The agreement was made to settle a zoning dispute. Craig explained that Jorgensen had applied for and received a building permit in October of 2006 to build a barn. However, the structure built appears to be an A-frame home. Craig expects that Jorgensen applied for the barn permit because of a Sumner Township Zoning Ordinance that only allows a dwelling on land of an individual with 80 or more acres. He suggested that Jorgensen made an attempt to circumvent the Sumner Ordinance with the fraudulent application. Craig added that the only violation of the county ordinance would be the lie made on the building application.

Commissioner Randy Dahl objected to entering into an agreement as a way of settling a clear violation of the ordinance. Bakke suggested that Jorgensen has spent a lot of money to build the 20 by 28 foot A-frame structure with an 18 foot deck. The agreement doesn't allow human habitation, but only use as a barn or workshop. Other limitations are detailed including no internal plumbing, no septic hook-up, no fresh water can be piped into the structure, and it can not be hooked up to public electrical lines. Both the county and the township have the right to inspect the "barn" with 24 hour advanced written notice. Dahl objected to the advanced notice.

Dahl agreed that technically the Sumner Ordinance isn't violated unless or until someone lives in the "barn." Assistant County Attorney Kelly Wagner admitted that the county doesn't have manpower to police the use of the structure and that the county can't prosecute unless someone lives there. She agreed with Corson and Craig that the agreement is the best remedy. The agreement was approved with Dahl and Chairman Marc Prestby voting against.

Private Wind Turbines

A minor change was approved to the ordinance dealing with Wind Energy Conversion Systems which would allow a privately owned wind turbine to be located closer than 750' from their home when both structures are owned by the same party.

Emergency Management

Emergency Management Director Deborah Teske asked for and received approval to apply for a Hazard Mitigation grant. Joe Feinberg with FEMA noted that the county will have 24 months to complete the plan. Prestby said that this is for the future and will not be helpful for the recent flooding disaster. Teske insisted that they will make every effort to fast track the plan which has to be approved by both state and federal governments. She noted that about 80% of Minnesota counties already have a plan.

Feinberg suggested that over the last four or five years the federal government is encouraging the mitigation plans in an effort to avoid repairing the same areas. For example, higher standards may be used on a bridge to avoid like damages in the future. He added that a '100 year flood' would supposedly only have a one percent chance of happening in a given year. However, Feinberg suggested that the chance of this devastating kind of flood is increasing recognizing the climate changes that are occurring.

Teske said that cities can sign on to the county mitigation plan and she will encourage them to participate. The county and cities must have an approved plan in order to qualify for federal grant money to mitigate hazards. If the FEMA grant is approved, FEMA will pay 75% of the cost to produce the plan. Teske estimates that the plan could cost as much as $94,000. The other 25% will be shared by the state and local government. The maximum cost to the county would be about $23,500.

Teske also received approval to purchase supplies at a cost of less than $3,000 to stock the Emergency Operation Center for future emergencies.

County Attorney

Assistant County Attorney Kelly Wagner is to be Acting County Attorney as of November 7. County Attorney Corson will have pre-deployment training as of November 13 and will go on active duty for Iraq effective November 29.

Wagner introduced the new temporary assistant attorney during Corson's leave, A. J. Kozlowski.

The County Attorney's office requested that a .4 part time attorney position held by Leigh Campbell be increased to a .6 position. Wagner added that she would like the change to be permanent, but it could be reexamined on Corson's return. Dahl said that he has been in favor of increasing the position for the increased work load from the social services department. Leigh has been on maternity leave and will be back to work November 20. The board approved the increase with a sunset provision at the time of Corson's return when it will again be addressed.

Social Services

Social Service Director Thomas Boyd requested that the board approve a $3,000 payment to Zumbro Valley Mental Health Center (ZVMH) for the expansion and access to the Individual Residential Treatment Services program. Bakke made it clear that he would be voting against the payment. He suggested that the board has been lying to themselves and now will be lying to the public. Bakke insisted that the $10,000 payment on June 12, 2007, and this payment are for capital expenses, the building of their center in Wood Lake Park in Rochester, rather than services. He suggested the language was changed to make it legal and acceptable to the state auditor. Bakke added that it shouldn't have been something we are involved in.

Boyd agreed that they were short of money so they came back and asked for it in some other manner. He added that the mental health residential treatment and detoxification services are filling a need for Fillmore County as well as the other counties in the region. The $3,000 payment was approved as was the affirmation of the earlier $10,000 payment made in June. Bakke voted against both.

Other Business

• County Engineer John Grindeland asked for and received approval of the low quote from Farmtek of $35,098 for a salt shed in Peterson. Prestby was against.

• One bid was submitted for a Mabel property from Orlean Investments out of St. Paul, Minnesota, for $1,500. The abstract for the Mabel property was handed to the county a few years ago. The board accepted the bid.

• There will not be a County Board meeting on December 4, but they will meet on December 11 and 18. In January the board will meet on January 8 and 22. They will meet on January 15 if necessary.

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