WALKER -- The Cass County Board Tuesday adopted a countywide land use ordinance, combining the former shoreland management and non-shoreland land use ordinances.
Environmental Services Director Paul Fairbanks and Deputy Director John Sumption presented final changes included in the adopted version during a public hearing preceding the board's vote.
The percent of allowable density in planned unit development projects will be increased on general development lakes when the first and second tiers from the lake are left as open space.
Harbors for residential lots will continue to be permitted with a conditional use permit. It was proposed earlier to allow harbors only on commercial properties.
With the elimination of noise standards in the public nuisance section of this ordinance Fairbanks said he proposes to incorporate noise standards as a condition for mass gathering conditional use permits and incorporate the issue into the mass gatherings ordinance. If approved, evaluation of noise levels would become the responsibility of those sponsoring and obtaining permits for mass gatherings.
He told the board he will contact the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for recommendations on noise levels and measuring standards.
When some Cass residents attending Tuesday's hearing asked for limits on the number of pets allowed on residential lots, Fairbanks said he is not prepared at this time to determine how many pets is too many.
The county does require in this ordinance a conditional use permit for commercial kennels, however. This covers the keeping of domestic animals raised for sale.
Animal control will be on the agenda when the board meets with township officers at the Cass County Township Association meeting at 1 p.m. Oct. 17 at Deep Portage Conservation Reserve, off County State Aid Highway 46 east of Hackensack.
The public is welcome to attend that meeting.
In response to questions residents raised at the last public hearing, the adopted ordinance stipulates any extractive land uses, such as gravel pits, must be at least 500 feet from public waters and would require a conditional use permit.
A stipulation that contiguous non-conforming lots cannot be sold separately will not apply to the requirement new in this ordinance that lot sizes on general development lakes must be 30,000 square feet rather than 20,000 square feet from this date forward.
Referred to the Environmental Services Citizen Advisory Committee for consideration in future land use ordinance revisions will be the issue of whether home occupations will be allowed to post business signs on main roads and off the owner's premises.
Fairbanks said home occupation owners may ask the county highway department to post blue directional signs on county roads now. Such signs would be at the owner's expense, he said. The state, however, only posts directional signs for recreational-related businesses on state highways, he added.
Also referred to the Environmental Services Citizen Advisory Committee for future consideration were concerns Gary Lyall and Ted Mellby of Leech Lake Tri-County Watershed Project raised concerning environmental issues.
They appealed to the board to stop all wetland filling, to eliminate all harbors on residential and commercial properties and to eliminate access lots on lakeshore to serve offshore property owners.
Mellby called the adopted ordinance "too developer friendly" and "not environmentally friendly."
John Zacher noted Cass still has 90 percent of its original wetlands and that the adopted ordinance does prevent removing wetlands within the shoreland setback area. Cass has been strict in requiring mitigation to replace wetlands removed, often requiring four times as much wetland be replaced as removed, Zacher said.
Mike Wetzell, planning commission chairman, asked that people consider the county's enforcement capabilities and realize that all ordinances are a work in progress.
Commissioner Jim Demgen noted most other counties in Minnesota admire what Cass County has done on zoning to this point to protect the environment.
Copies of the ordinance will be available from the Environmental Services Department by calling (218) 547-7241 or toll free outside the Walker-Hackensack area 800-547-3301. It also will be posted on the county Web site: www.co.cass.mn.us.
Following the land use ordinance public hearing, attorney Jim Ballenthin informed the board the published version of the county subdivision ordinance the board adopted earlier this year conflicts with board action taken separately concerning outlots.
In the board action, "outlots created through the platting process and not dedicated as open space before 1972 may be subdivided by certificate of survey or platting, consistent with the requirements of this ordinance. Outlots created in 1972 or after shall not be developed or subdivided and no land use permits will be issued. Storage buildings may not be placed on an outlot."
The ordinance, however, was published as permitting any outlot to be developed if platted and passed through a public hearing process.
Administrator Robert Yochum advised the board new public hearings must be held and a revision to the published subdivision ordinance considered to resolve the difference between the board's action and the published ordinance.
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