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County puts moratorium on campgrounds, PUDs, and subdivisions

Fri, Feb 9th, 2007
Posted in Government

Chuck Amunrud

PRESTON - In a move that took many by surprise, the Fillmore County Board on Tuesday voted four to one to put in place a 12 month moratorium on the development and expansion of campgrounds, planned unit developments (PUDS) and subdivisions in the county.

Commissioners Duane Bakke and Chuck Amunrud proposed the moratorium saying that the Planning Commission needed time to work out inconsistencies in the zoning ordinance and reconcile them with the newly adopted comprehensive plan.

The two board members are part of a seven member Planning Commission sub-committee tasked with reviewing zoning ordinances. Other members of the sub-committee include Norman Craig, Cristal Atkins, Brett Corson, Steve Duxbury, and Mike Tuohy as chairman.

Bakke spoke about the many inconsistencies in the ordinance.

"Campgrounds are organized as PUDs; a campground can be developed in the flood plain; there are no limits on the number of houses in a PUD; subdivisions have to have 2 1/2 acre plots; you can't have a subdivision on a gravel road, but you can have a PUD on a gravel road," Bakke said. "These and other questions need reviewing."

Bakke said that on a personal level he has concerns about development in the Root River Valley and along the Scenic Byway.

Amunrud said that the language needs to be more defined, so that the rules are better 'spelled out.'

Bakke noted that at present there are no applications being considered for these three type of developments. Therefore, he sees it as a good time to impose a moratorium for a maximum of twelve months.

"This way we can be proactive and not reactive to some development activity," Bakke said.

Bakke expects that the ordinance review could be done by late summer allowing for the lifting of the moratorium sooner.

Chairman Marc Prestby asked why subdivisions should be included as they are required to be developed along a hard surface road and are limited to twelve homes. Bakke argued that the rules for all three are intertwined and they all need reviewing.

Zoning Administrator Norm Craig noted that this will have no effect on anyone who wants to build a single family home. Commissioner Randy Dahl expressed a need for development to go ahead in the "right way" and agreed with the need to study the effects of future development.

While the discussion on the moratorium did not reference any specific development, problems with campground expansion at Eagle Cliff near Whalan and opposition to a proposed campground in Pilot Mound Township have been prominent news items the past year. There have also been some city leaders who have argued that subdivisions be built proximal to municipalities because of existing infrastructure.

The board approved a resolution that declares a "12 month moratorium on the development of new or expansions of existing Subdivisions, Planned Unit Developments, and Campgrounds in the Ag District" giving the county time to further study the issues. The moratorium goes into effect immediately. Prestby voted against the motion.

Fran Sauer, the president of Southeast Minnesotans for Environmental Protection (SEMEP), said she was pleasantly surprised by the County Board's action.

"This was a wise decision on their part, one that was certainly needed," Sauer said.

The Planning Commission will have their first public hearing on recommended changes to the first five sections of the zoning ordinance at their February 15 meeting.

Social Services

Social Service Director Thomas Boyd presented a report ranking county performance in administering Human Service Programs. The state legislative audit report listed 15 counties ranking near the bottom which included Fillmore County. The audit attempted to determine if services are consistent throughout the state. Boyd explained that Fillmore County has a relatively high poverty rate and a higher percent of elderly residents. He said that it was a statistical audit, and didn't take into account the demographics.

It was noted in the report that the audit showed the relative availability of human services, but does not attempt to explain the reasons why some are more available in one county compared to another. The audit admits that some factors that reduce services are not in the control of the counties.

Boyd suggested that in the last four to eight years, the relationship between the counties and the state has deteriorated. He hopes the audit will open communication between the counties and the state to allow them to better work together. Boyd noted that the state requires services to be provided without providing funds to provide them.

Assessment Data Web Site

Danea Larson, Geographic Information Systems, explained the availability of both public and private access to Fillmore County assessment data. An annual private subscription will cost $250 along with a one time $50 set up fee. An agreement form between the county and each applicant for subscription was approved by the board. Larson said that the service was now available.

Other Business

• The low bid of $3920 from Bakke Electric (no relation to Duane Bakke) was approved to do wiring and install equipment for emergency lighting, smoke detector, horn, and fire alarms in the courthouse. Morem Electric's bid was accepted to wire the courthouse elevator.

• Sharon Serfling, Public Health, asked for and received authorization to sign a Tobacco Free communities grant with Olmsted County and to sign a Memorandum of Agreement with Semcac, Inc. for the RSVP program.

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