April 30, 2004 at 9:58 a.m.
After not hearing back from the County Board-- the Round Barn Project people and two township supervisors came to the County Board last week informing the commissioners time was running out.
Sherry Stirling, Director for the Chisago County Historical Society, said the society has already invested about $20,000 mostly in relocating the farmstead house to the barn side of the road, to create a historic interpretive site and open space at the Moody Lake site.
The reduced-price purchase agreement negotiated with a developer, is only good until May 1.
“If the county doesn’t direct the park fees be used by Chisago Lake Township, the last round barn here will be gone,” Stirling declared.
Chisago Lake Township Board members Jim Froberg and Judy Chartrand also attended the Board meeting.
Chartrand said, “We asked you in March and respectfully ask for a response. You owe the township a response”
She said the township is simply using its authority under state law to request its 75 percent of park acquisition fees generated by plats within the township.
Commissioner Bob Gustafson, who also serves on the County Park Board, reported he and Parks Board members recommend only 50 percent of the 75 percent be dispersed.
He then partially worded a motion to that effect, but before there was a vote the legal time (7:15 p.m.) set for a public hearing approached and the County Board Chair Mike Robinson temporarily set aside the Moody Barn discussion.
After the specific hearing concluded, Commissioner Ben Montzka then asked to table the park fee dispersement to April 28 because he said there’s no policy in place to review these requests. Montzka quipped that he was just as concerned with, “...how we do this as what we do.”
Montzka argued that County Parks Director Laird Mork has explained dispersal of the fees differently than what he was hearing this night and he wanted clearer advice. The issue involving over $60,000 was not even on the County Board agenda.
His motion to table died on a tie-vote, with Commissioner Lora Walker absent.
Commissioner Rick Olseen got some more information from township representatives and Stirling as to the budget and the expected revenue for the entire Moody Barn project.
Franconia Township Supervisors, Olseen was told, also donated 75 percent of Franconia local fees to the barn endeavor. (No written confirmation was presented from Franconia.)
County staff said that would come to about $10,000. With the Chisago Lake Township allowed a full 75 percent and the Franconia contribution, there’d be $72,000 approximately released. Stirling said the historical society needs $90,000 to buy the land.
On a motion by Olseen and passed 3-1 (Montzka voting no) the county fees ($62,400) will be dispersed at the full 75 percent. This is not contingent on Franconia chipping in.
In other issues:
The county zoning code was presented for enacting an amendment to the definition of “buildable acre.”
It became apparent quickly that the slope consideration being proposed as new language was generally misunderstood by those participating in the hearing.
The county planning commission approved the amended code and the staff has recommended it for “clarity” in explaining what the county considers as buildable.
In determining a buildable acre the county zoning department takes into consideration terrain all around the actual building pad, within any 200 by 200 foot lot. By eliminating slopes of 18 percent and greater, as is proposed in the new wording, that doesn’t mean a slope can’t be built on. Indeed-- many walkout residences in particular are sited on sloping land.
Still, a number of people argued against the consideration, and letters from the Builders’ Association and the St. Paul Association of Realtors were submitted into the record opposing this.
The county commissioners did nothing to the slope definition at this time.
The buildable acre definition also contains wording to the effect of one-foot to mottled soils for allowing construction. There also was much talk that mottling isn’t relied on as an indication in other jurisdictions.
Zoning Administrator Marion Heemsbergen explained that Chisago County, with individual septic systems being installed, requires stricter soils parameters than does an area with urban-designed curbed and guttered roads and stormwater direction systems.
Plus, the wording “undisturbed natural state” was also questioned. Does farmland not count in calculating buildable, because it’s been plowed?
After a couple of tie-votes on tabling and on leaving the wording alone-- where both motions died-- the commissioners basically took no action. They’ll likely address the buildable acre definition again when the fifth commissioner can be present.