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home : news : news
October 17, 2019

9/26/2019 3:44:00 PM
County Board gives early OK's to revisions on home occupation, solar

The County Board got an early look at a proposed  revised ordinance that will regulate home businesses on two tiers,  and make staff-granted permits for “minor”commercial-industrial operations more readily available.  

The county planning commission was directed to hold a public hearing on the wording and move the revamp of home occupation permit conditions along  towards final Board approval.

The commissioners had concerns about the planning commission making a recommendation placing no limit on number of employees under the “major” business category.  The major definition would apply after a home business exceeds two employees.  A simplified permit process for a home occupation up to two employees, and which can be shown to meets noise, parking availability, etc standards. allows for permit approval from county zoning staff.

With no maximum employee number for the major home based business permits-- Commissioners Ben Montzka and Mike Robinson foresee large operations, with multiple employees disturbing residents who moved to the rural region for peace and quiet.  The two argued that there are city industrial parks for a reason. Large numbers of employees should be coming and going from urban sites.  Areas are zoned for this activity and anybody moving in would know ahead of time.

Commissioner Montzka said, “If we want a community that works well and provides for the needs of all its residents” there must be advance planning and not just reacting to situations. “We have a duty to plan,” he stated.

Commissioner Chris DuBose suggested the planning commission look at capping “major” operations at 15 employees and consensus was for this.

The Board voted to authorize a public hearing be scheduled, with Robinson opposed.  The date for the hearing is pending wording being developed by the planning commission based on the County Board feedback, and November is the most likely planning commission meeting where this would be on the agenda.

Solar guidance
There also was discussion and a public comment during open microphone on the solar ordinance and administrative review.  The planning commission sent up a document that gives “enhanced development direction” to solar projects.  

Angel Permaloff, resident from Franconia Township, felt this solar “policy” presented to the county board from the planning commission needs to be written in ordinance format to give it some teeth.  

The commissioners agreed with the public comment.  The vote ended up at 3-2 directing the planning commission to draft the policy into an ordinance.
The no votes were from Montzka and Robinson who expressed concerns about the solar panel setbacks being mandated from county roads and state highways, and other solar installation restrictions.

The 750 foot proposed setback allows for housing in front (on-the-road) to happen, with solar further to the back of a parcel, staff advised. Commissioner Robinson remarked if his colleagues had ever played footbal, then they’d realize how distant this setback longer than two football fields (660 feet) end-to-end.
In other matters; the platting of four lots at the southwest corner of Belle isle and Rush Lake Trail for Duane mcCall was approved.

The planning commission will hold a hearing on a community solar array at 12460 375th in Sunrise Twsp. as part of the commission meeting October 3.
~ And, a fulltime position to work the truancy program with Chisago County schools was allowed boosting the hours of the current truant outreach agent. (See Press story Aug.22)

A regional education consortium is covering $35,000 and the county will pick-up the remainder.  Having the support of the consortium demonstrates area school districts’ level of support,  because they are seeing an improvement in compliance with attendance, said Probation Services Director Amy Chavez.



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