LONGVILLE -- Cass County Board hosted the first of two public hearings Tuesday on an ordinance proposed to combine and replace the Shoreland Management, Non-Shoreland Management and Recreational Vehicle, Campground and Mobile Home Park Ordinances.
The second reading will begin at 11 a.m. Sept. 17 at the courthouse in Walker.
Deputy Environmental Services Director John Sumption said Cass County Planning Commission held eight working sessions to consider changes for the ordinances and to merge them into one.
Further details about the appeals board and board of adjustment will be included in the draft presented at the second reading, Sumption said.
The planned unit development section recognizes four tiers of development from a lake, with Tier 1 being closest to the lake. As an incentive to encourage development farther away from the lake, Sumption said increased density would be allowed in Tier 2 if developers did not place buildings in Tier 1.
John Zacher suggested an additional incentive to leaving Tier 1 open space also might be to permit even greater density in Tier 2 if the developer left more open space in Tiers 3 and 4.
Among proposals triggering the greatest number of comments Tuesday were those eliminating the current permission for two employees outside the immediate family to work in a home occupation and to institute a requirement that all business be conducted within the residence.
"There's no logical sense to discriminate," Jim Ballenthin said of permitting people to conduct businesses in a garage attached to a house, but not one detached from the residence.
"Reasonable employment opportunities are important," he said.
Environmental Services Director Paul Fairbanks said his department is getting more negative reaction from neighbors to home businesses than in the past.
Ballenthin also questioned the new limitation of only two accessory structures per lot.
Controlled access lots, those lots designated for lake access from offshore properties, also drew numerous comments.
There was general consensus from the board and public that the county department and planning commission should be capable of determining whether such access would impact critical fish or wildlife habitat or emergent aquatic vegetation and that a ruling from Minnesota DNR should not be necessary.
The DNR and other agencies, however, are contacted routinely for comment on controlled accesses, planned unit developments and other zoning issues.
The commissioners asked Fairbanks to advise the DNR and MnDOT that their officials should submit comments in the future on county zoning issues at least seven days in advance of public hearings rather than the day before such hearings.
Responding to a question, Fairbanks said the county currently does not regulate any easement one property owner may give to another to use his property for lake access.
Another proposed change would require new lots developed on general development lakes to have 30,000 square feet minimum rather than 20,000 square feet for a single-family residential lot and 60,000 square feet rather than 30,000 square feet for a duplex lot.
Triplexes and quads would be removed from permitted uses in shoreland residential lot charts for single and duplex residences and, instead, be treated as multi-family dwellings.
Existing lots of record at the time the ordinance is adopted would not be affected by this change, Fairbanks said.
The new ordinance proposes to make environmental services department the only entity to hold escrow accounts for sewer system replacement when a property is sold. Sumption said a bid price for replacing the sewer system must be submitted when the escrow account is paid to the department.
Commissioner Rusty Lilyquist questioned what happens if a contractor refuses to install a new sewer system for the bid price.
Sumption said that would be cause for a private civil lawsuit. The county does not propose to control any differences between bid prices and actual installation costs, he said.
Changes are proposed for numerous definitions in the combined ordinance, as are changes to the degree of development and land alteration to be permitted in shoreland impact Zone 1, closest to the lake.
Shrub and brush clearing toward the lake is further limited and controlled under the new ordinance, with a requirement that some dead or dying trees must be replaced when cut down.
Use of mechanical earth moving equipment in the shore bluff zone would be prohibited.
Only one variance will be allowed per nonconforming structure under the proposed ordinance. No expansions of nonconforming guest quarters will be allowed.
Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the proposed ordinance before the Sept. 17 hearing can contact the Environmental Services Department at 547-7241 or toll free outside the Walker-Hackensack area at 888-547-3301.
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