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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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September 21, 2021

7/9/2021 2:41:00 PM
One acre buildable recommended to be reduced by half

A discussion about allowing outdoor shooting ranges was tabled by the county planning commission members last week,  but they did write a draft ordinance for the codebook replacing the county’s one acre buildable standard.  

In a two and a half hour session the full commission voted 4-3 to decrease the “buildable area” to 21,500 square feet and to cut the septic footprints for new plats to 8,000 square feet total for an existing and future system, down from the current 10,000 square feet required.

Surprisingly,  just two builders attended the public hearing to provide input.  The planning commission is following the County Board order that eliminated masking and things have returned to in-person planning commission meetings.

The County Board will see this recommended new buildable area and septic language at its July 21 meeting.  Official fact-gathering is done at the planning commission hearing level, however.

Builders Joe and Vince Charles commented that the new ordinance has some good points, but is becoming too complicated and the county should be looking to simplify. Vince took issue with costs associated should a builder miss the mark on basic soils conditions for a site, and be required to prove the lot is not susceptible to high water table.  

If the construction  activity encounters water problems then they can be addressed at that time with drain tile, etc. Charles said.  He added,  the county is “micro-ing” this process too much.   It is costly to hire a hydrologic analysis or a piezometer measurement.

Should this new wording being sent to the County Board be approved, it will presumably create more lots and facilitate subdivisions, with smaller requirements on which to site homes.  Since about 1998 the county has required builders to show a one acre buildable area when they want to apply to put up a new house.  They have also been required to demonstrate suitable soils of 10,000 square feet in two separate locations where individual septic systems are proposed. (5,000 square feet septic site  standard)

The motion that passed on a split vote,  also authorizes the use of fill to accomplish the new 21,500 standard.  Filling will be okay in low areas, but not in “wetlands” as is already the case now.

The use of a holding tank is also going to be considered in certain case-by-case situations, like for tiny houses, seasonal or infrequently used dwellings.
Planning Commissioners explained that in researching this issue, Chisago County has heard that “finding good lots” for subdivisions is getting more difficult under the 22 year old building standards that the commission was directed to review.

There was talk among the planning group about graduated buildable area size requirements depending on the parcel size, and that maybe a larger buildable area of 30,000 square feet could be the standard on “large” lots.  Commission member Charles ‘Chip’ Yeager said the percentage of buildable area as a part of the full lot size or proportionality, is worth considering.  The ordinance has a “recommended” action not mandated, as well, when soils appear they could saturate. Yeager asked staff to look into whether the county can enforce a “recommendation”  legally.

In an attempt at a non-friendly amendment adding a graduated buildable area size, to the motion proposed by David Whitney, the  amendment failed 4-3.  The thinking was that the county can add environmental conservation elements that might have been achieved in larger buildable area, in other sections of code.  Commissioner Whitney stated the buildable area needs to be consistent across all lot sizes.
Then the Whitney motion passed 4-3.  Voting no because they were still not pleased with the wording were; Jim McCarthy, Chip Yeager and Frank Storm.  Supporting sending the draft to the Board were Chair Shellene Johnson, Jim Froberg, John Sutcliffe and David Whitney.

Accessory structures
A review on accessory structures regulations chipped away at some issues the county has been having. Zoning Director Kurt Schneider said new lots-of-record get created when a large property splits;  but then the new lot has an accessory structure on it and is not paired with a required dwelling.  Also, sometimes people want to build an outbuilding on an empty parcel,  to work out of as they construct a home.  Or, an existing dwelling is razed in order to sell a piece of land,  but a decent outbuilding remains wich is now illegal.  

Commercial use of accessory structures for storage (beyond personal items) has become a concern as well.

County staff would like to “provide a path to request this type of building” Schneider said, but in regulated circumstances.

The upshot of the discussion was the planning commission supports designating a time period when an accessory building can be allowed minus the dwelling.    

There needs to be a differentiation between storage that’s making money and good neighbor type storage.  

Planning commissioners supported seeing a new ordinance that also puts these structures under the Interim Use Permit system, to maintain enforceability and record-keeping. An IUP can be set to automatically expire for example— after three years.

The planning group will continue to review this ordinance. Talk with your county commissioner if you have suggestions or concerns.

And— as for the gun range regulations, the planning commission tabled any language that references outdoor range land uses and decided to focus on INDOOR range permits and standards for those.

The County Board had asked for the planning commission to review shooting facilities as the popularity of one-time outdoor shooting events are becoming a concern.

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WIld Mountain 12-8-13

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