The Lake County Commission took action on several property issues at Tuesday's meeting, including one variance issue that involved some passionate debate from the parties involved.|
Jeff Lautt of Sioux Falls purchased a lot at Lake Madison, contingent on being granted a variance for setbacks from 9 feet to 7 feet. The motion was recommended by the planning commission, but at the County Commission meeting Tuesday, it was denied.
Lautt told the commissioners that he felt that if he built a home on the lot with 7-foot setbacks, there would still be 17 feet to the next nearest structure, and that was "ample room," wider than in most cities. He also said his home would not obstruct the neighbors' views of the lake.
Lautt's neighbor to the south, Glenn Boomsma of Brandon, said, "I do oppose this variance" on several issues, one being a failure to follow procedure. He claimed advance notice had not been given to all adjoining property owners, namely Claudia Gieske. She had not been notified and missed the Planning Commission meeting. That omission would be "fatal to the application," Boomsma said. However, County Commissioner Dan Bohl said the Planning Commission only made a recommendation, not approval.
"This is approval," he said of the County Commission meeting.
State's Attorney Chris Giles said Boomsma was correct on the technicality of the notice, but if Gieske were to waive her right to the notice of the planning meeting, and be heard at the county commission meeting, the process could continue. She agreed to waive that right, although she said, "I feel it was done sneakily" with "everybody kept in the dark."
Boomsma also said that in order to grant a variance, Lautt must demonstrate a "substantial hardship" if the change is not granted. Boomsma said that if the commission granted the setbacks, it would be an appealable issue. "Setbacks are there for a good reason, and you shouldn't vary from them."
Neighbors around Peninsula Point Road felt safety and congestion were some of the 'good reasons' to maintain the setbacks.
"My concern is a safety issue," said Judy Jasper, another neighbor. She felt a wider home would mean less visibility, and another driveway on the single lane road would be a safety and congestion issue.
Gieske echoed that sentiment: "This will cause major congestion."
Commission President Scott Pedersen said, "I don't see how the size of the house would make congestion more or less." Also, a driveway was "not our jurisdiction," Pedersen added.
Lautt interjected, saying that driving carefully and slowly was "just how it is around the lake." He also defended his petition, saying he was still passionate about the location, even though without the variance he would have to change construction plans that might increase his costs.
Although the commissioners were sympathetic to the concerns of congestion and traffic safety in the area, they did not seem to feel that was a specific concern addressed by the setback variance. After all, Lautt could still build a 26-foot-wide, 30-foot-high house on the property.
"It is still a buildable lot" even without the granted variance, Giles said The sole issue, he told the commissioners, was hardship.
The commissioners voted unanimously to deny the variance.
Nuisance property sold
At the request of County Treasurer Linda Fischer, the commissioners canceled the taxes owed on a property sold on Tuesday. This property is located in the Chautauqua development (northwest side of Lake Madison). It was declared a nuisance property in November after owner Kohler Construction had not paid taxes for four years and did not respond to requests to clean up the property.
The county had put in about $5,500 of in-kind costs to clean up the property, but actual costs were only $351, so commissioners decided to start the bidding at $351. Bidding ran up to $4,000, with the top bid going to Rodney Pater.
Other permits granted
The commissioners granted a conditional use permit to a new religious farming community, Camridge Hutterian Brethren Colony. The development community, associated with Gracevale Colony, will begin with about 60-70 people, said Gary Hofer, and may grow to around 160 people. The colony does not plan to have any livestock at this time. The land, in the northeastern corner of Summit Township, is not in a flood plain, not over the aquifer and is on good soil, reported Deb Reinicke, zoning director.
A building permit was granted to John and Diane Pedersen for an oversized accessory building on their Lake Brant property. Neighbors had voiced concerns about drainage flow, but Pedersen said he would build a berm to keep water flowing normally.
Zoning ordinance first reading
The commission approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 13-54, which amends Ordinance No. 06-44 and repeals #09-48, the current flooding regulations. Four new sections of language were added by First Dakota District regarding flooding definitions, historic structures, new construction, damage and improvements. Acceptance was necessary "so the county will be in compliance with flood projects," said Reinicke. This process is done every 4-5 years, she added, but this action will bring the flooding language in along with the other zoning ordinances, so there will be an overlay instead of a separate flooding ordinance. The second reading will be at the Aug. 6 meeting.