Wright County Board Minutes

NOVEMBER 1, 2011
The Wright County Board met in regular session at 9:00 A.M. with Sawatzke, Mattson, Russek, Thelen, and Eichelberg present.
Thelen moved to approve the 10-25-11 County Board Minutes, seconded by Eichelberg, carried unanimously.
Eichelberg moved to approve the Agenda as presented, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
The Consent Agenda was discussed. Mattson referenced Consent Agenda Items C1 and C2 for Planning & Zoning and asked for clarification on the requested action. Russek stated that the action corrects the zoning classification of the land prior to the change requested (i.e., the land was originally zoned A/R but the action taken by the County Board last week reflected the land was originally zoned AG). Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, stated a mistake was made only on the County Board paperwork. It was not listed incorrectly at the Planning Commission level. Mattson wanted to make sure that the applicant was aware of this. Riley clarified that the mistake in the paperwork happened subsequent to the Planning Commission meeting. On a motion by Mattson, second by Eichelberg, all voted to approve the Consent Agenda:
1. Performance Appraisals: B. Bersie, R. Casey, B. Jans, J. Martinson, J. Wolff, Hwy; S. Deckert, P&Z; S. Albrecht, M. Koscianski, Sher./Corr.
2. Approve/Authorize Signatures On Memorandum Of Agreement With Minnesota Teamsters Public & Law Enforcement Employees’ Union, Local No. 320, Courthouse Unit To Allow Donation Of Vacation Time To Employee.
1. Make The Following Changes To The Court Fee Schedule:
a. Add Gas Chromatography (Additional Testing), K-2 Tests, $30, eff. 7-15-11.
b. Add Choices Program, $55, eff. 8-1-11.
c. Add Adult Diversion Program, $50, eff. 7-1-11.
d. Add TruThought Program (per session), $5, eff. 11-14-11.
e. Remove Juvenile Cognitive Program (replaced by TruThought Program).
1. RESCIND ACTION TAKEN 10-25-11 (Incorrect Language Of Existing Zone Submitted) – Carl W. Anderson (Rockford Twp.) Planning Commission Unanimously Recommend Approval Of The Request To Rezone 10 Acres From AG General Agricultural And S-2 Residential-Recreational Shorelands To R-2a Suburban-Residential and S-2.
2. REPLACE WITH: Accept The Findings And Recommendations Of The Planning Commission For The Following Rezonings:
Carl W. Anderson (Rockford Twp.) Planning Commission Unanimously Recommend Approval Of The Request To Rezone 10 Acres From A/R Agricultural-Residential and S-2 Residential-Recreational Shorelands To R-2a Suburban-Residential and S-2.
Bob Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer, presented the claims listing for approval. On a motion by Mattson, second by Thelen, all voted to approve the claims as listed in the abstract, subject to audit.
Steve Berg, Emergency Management Director, said the Wright County Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council and the Fire Chief’s Association met about one year ago. The goal was set to train approximately 10% of the population or 10,000 residents of Wright County on Hands-Only CPR and AED training. Berg appeared at the 10-13-11 Leadership Team Meeting, and they support the training for staff. The Hands-Only CPR Training will take 10-15 minutes. This training does not replace regular CPR procedures, but offers a new standard without the mouth-to-mouth step. It is anticipated that training will occur at the Government Center. Depending on the number of instructors, there may be 4-5 groups trained at one time. AED training will be offered as well. Berg said AED’s are located at the County buildings and staff should be trained on use. Training will be offered to all County employees. Sawatzke moved to support the proposal for the Hands-Only CPR and AED training, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0.
A Building Committee Meeting was held on 10-26-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations. The motion was seconded by Mattson and carried 5-0:
I. Nursing Mothers Rooms.
A Nursing Mothers Survey was conducted by Public Health as part of the SHIP Grant. The Survey results reflect that employees would like a Nursing Mothers Room available at each of the County buildings. The request is that the Nursing Mothers Room Guidelines identify the location of the rooms and the process for use. At the time of the survey, there were Nursing Mothers Rooms located at the Government Center and Human Services Center. Since the survey, rooms have been added at the Law Enforcement Center and the Public Works Building. Schefers recently met with Administration to develop a draft of the Nursing Mothers Room Guidelines (attached).
Norman understood the results of the Nursing Mothers Survey were not brought back to the Human Services Board. He said a survey only has value if the results of the subject of the survey are shared. Schefers agreed. She said nothing significant came out of the Survey. Supervisor responses to the Survey were supportive. The Committee agreed that the Survey and the results should be copied to the County Board and Norman. This information is public and should be retained within the Nursing Mothers Room file. Norman asked Schefers to draft a memo to the County Board and himself with the information attached. The County Board can decide whether they would like a formal presentation on the Survey at a Human Services Board Meeting, as that is where the Survey was authorized.
Recommendation: Approve Nursing Mothers Room Guidelines. Schefers will forward the Survey and results to the County Board and Norman. (End of 10-26-11 Building Committee Minutes)
A Personnel Committee Of The Whole Meeting was held on 10-25-11. At today’s County Board Meeting, Eichelberg moved to approve the minutes and recommendations, seconded by Thelen, carried 5-0:
I. Discuss 2012 Salaries Of Elected Department Heads.
Tom Kelly, County Attorney:
Norman handed out a 2011 Non-Union Salary Schedule, and explained that the County Attorney position is not on it, but the Auditor/Treasurer and Sheriff positions are listed. The attached handout also includes resolutions the Board passed in 2010 regarding salaries for each position.
Kelly said he takes his position very seriously. He referenced Minnesota Statute 388.18 regarding the compensation schedule and salaries for county attorneys. He also presented a summary of his experience and accomplishments while in Office (see attached). His 2011 salary is $119,446 plus $4,809 for administering city law enforcement contracts for a total of $124,255.
Kelly said he’s done his best to be frugal with the Department budget. He said his compensation for administering city contracts has never changed. He suggested a one percent raise of $1,242 by keeping his base salary the same, and increasing the compensation for administering city contracts to $6,051 for a total compensation of $125,497. Kelly said it’s still below comparable positions in Sherburne and Stearns Counties, but he knows the County budget is tight. He stated he has done an excellent job and is worth a one percent raise.
Thelen asked Kelly to clarify the total he would like for city contracts. Kelly said with his current base salary of $119,446, plus an increase to $6,051 for administrating city law enforcement contracts, his total compensation would equal $125,497. Kelly said in conclusion, if he gets a zero increase with the same pay as 2011, he asked that if the Board resolves compensation issues by agreeing to pay increases for other elected officials, union and non-union employees, the Board would allow Kelly to renegotiate his compensation retroactive to 1/1/12.
Sawatzke asked Kelly to clarify that he would accept a zero increase if all other employees get zero. Kelly said he was asking for one percent because someone who has done a good job is due that amount. He acknowledged the Board has a tough job establishing the 2012 budget.
Sawatzke asked Kelly to confirm he would take a zero increase. Sawatzke said a year ago Kelly stated he would not ask for a raise if every employee received no raise. Kelly said he would have no problem taking a freeze if others do likewise.
Norman said the resolution setting salaries for elected Department Heads will not be on the Board Agenda until December, 2011. He said he heard Kelly say if at that time it turns out elected Department Heads get zero increases, he would like the Board to consider an increase for him retroactive to 1/1/12 if union or other employees get an increase. Kelly said there is statutory authority to allow this to be brought back to the Personnel Committee Of The Whole since he’s given the Board the ability to do so.
Recommendation: Zero increase to County Attorney compensation for 2012.
Robert Hiivala, Auditor/Treasurer:
Hiivala said he realizes the Board is in a difficult budget situation. He asked to be treated like exempt employees. Sawatzke asked him to verify that he was amenable to a zero increase. Hiivala said he would not ask for anything different from what other employees are receiving. He added if other employees get an increase, he would like the same, with retroactive pay. Russek said that was agreeable. Hiivala’s income for 2012 will be $112,862, the same as 2011.
Recommendation: Zero increase to Auditor/Treasurer compensation for 2012.
Joe Hagerty, Sheriff:
Hagerty presented a summary of his experience and accomplishments while in Office (see attached). He said the Sheriff’s Office focuses on other issues in addition to response to calls. Hagerty said comparable agencies don’t operate civil procedure, jails or courts. The only other agency similar to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office is Carver County with a population of 89,000. Hagerty said they have 13 contracts with cities as well. He said this is the trend, as many police departments have folded due to constricted budgets, causing cities to increasingly use county sheriffs. Hagerty said the City of Foley hired a private security firm. He added that could happen here as well if a city council decided to eliminate their police department.
Hagerty said Wright County is unique. Only one other county in Minnesota has a nuclear power plant. He has additional notification responsibilities from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Hagerty said he has been notified twice regarding outages and other non-emergencies. Hagerty said crime is down in Wright County.
Hagerty said he continues working with employees to reinforce his philosophy about treating customers and coworkers well. He said the Department works every day to maintain that reputation. During the past year Hagerty restructured the Office to maximize employee strengths. He said he adjusts assignments by moving Sergeants around and transferring people out of narcotics and investigations to keep them fresh. He said the Board helped him retain employees by dropping the lower Step for deputies to stay aligned with the Metro Area market. Hagerty said they are being very selective about whom they hire. He is managing the budget well, and projects the Department will come in $50,000 under budget for overtime this year. During the last four years, Hagerty said he did payroll and schedules for 87 deputies, so he knows where the overtime went. He said they don’t usually replace a Sergeant who goes home sick after four hours unless they are working on a city contract.
Hagerty said compared to other Sheriffs in the area with comparable populations, he is probably at the bottom of the pay scale. The salary set by the Board for 2011 was $104,000. He said the previous Sheriff received a stipend for city contracts. In 2010 the stipend was $3,577, for a total of $113,686 plus a 2.5% increase if the former Sheriff had stayed with the County. Eichelberg asked whether the $104,000 included contract city stipends. Hagerty said it was never defined. The stipend was reduced to $1,212 for contracts, as the Board wanted to use Steps. Step Seven was $102,788.
Sawatzke said Hagerty’s compensation simply notes the $104,000 salary. He said Hagerty is not at the top Step, so he doesn’t need to deal with stipends. He asked Hagerty whether he had any expectations. Hagerty responded he wanted to hear from the Board first.
Sawatzke said the Board gave the Auditor/Treasurer and County Attorney zero increases. However, Sawatzke said Hagerty is in a different situation. The others are above Hagerty on the schedule. Sawatzke said Hagerty needs to get some increase. He suggested $108,000 since Hagerty is approximately $1,358 below a Step Eight.
Eichelberg said the Board could put him on a direct Step and eliminate contract stipends. Norman said the preference is to stay on the Salary Schedule. Eichelberg suggested Step Eight at $109,045 to adhere to the Salary Schedule. Sawatzke said there is no reference to stipends in the language. Norman said the increase to Step Eight would be 4.85%. Sawatzke said he wouldn’t go higher than that as the increase is 1 1/4 Steps. Sawatzke clarified that no one else in this Job Class will get Step increases since they have reached the top Step. Anyone who gets a Step increase will be at a smaller percentage. Sawatzke said he had intended increasing Hagerty’s compensation below Step Eight but would go as high as that. Thelen said she would as well.
Sawatzke said the salary would be $109,045 or a $5,045 raise. Russek said he is receiving more than a Step.
Recommendation: Increase Sheriff compensation to Step Eight at $109,045.
(End of 10-25-11 Personnel Committee Of The Whole Minutes)
Sean Riley, Planning & Zoning Administrator, presented a request to accept the Findings and Conditions of the Planning Commission (5/2 vote) for the adoption of Amendments to the Wright County Zoning Ordinance, Section 502 (which regulates Appeals and the Board of Adjustment), including Amendment “2” for limiting Board of Adjustment membership to four terms. The Amendments were initiated from recent legislative changes from the 2011 regular session. The new State law established a new standard in granting variance requests. For over 20 years, established case law held the standard to using a property in a reasonable manner when bringing variance requests to the Board of Adjustment (BOA). A legal case was decided in June, 2011, to change the standard to if the variance request was not granted the property could not be used in any reasonable way. As a result, it was difficult for municipalities to grant variances. Legislation was encouraged to correct this impact. The new law became effective in May, 2011, essentially putting back this standard to a reasonable manner. This language is addressed under 502.4, Findings, Item b, which states, “The property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner not permitted by an official control.” The proposed Amendments to the Zoning Ordinance take into account any new language. The Amendments also clean up outdated language and reorganize the sections to read and flow better. During the course of the Planning Commission (PC) hearings, a few changes were initiated by the PC. The PC proposes to require three members on the BOA to be from owned land in unincorporated areas. The agreement of PC members was that should be for all five BOA members. The other change- related to term limits. The PCA public hearing was continued on the term limit proposal. Greg Kryzer, Assistant County Attorney, also went to the Township Quarterly Meeting to obtain input.
Riley stated that the information being reviewed today includes the original version of Section 502 including the proposed revisions. Two separate handouts reflect proposed language for BOA term limits. Version 1 allows for a BOA member who has previously served to return after a certain length of time. Version 2 is a strict reading of term limits that reflects after 12 years, the appointment is done. The PC acted on Version 2 and forwarded that, along with the other amendments, to the County Board today for a decision. Planning & Zoning staff were also directed by the PC to draft similar language on term limits for the PC for their 12-15-11 Meeting. Depending on the outcome today, that will determine how staff proceeds.
Russek said the PC held good discussion on term limits. Russek will vote against term limits. He has never favored term limits and said he never will. Russek feels that term limits eliminate good people from serving. Sawatzke said the County Board has always given the PC and BOA a lot of discretion. Some decisions are final; some decisions are forwarded to the County Board. He felt the County Board generally passes what is recommended by those bodies. He felt this request is different as it is creating or revising the Ordinance. Typically their job is to apply the Ordinance. He thought it was fine that they presented the request but he did not feel bound by their recommendation.
With regard to Russek’s comments on term limits, Sawatzke said one of his concerns is the difficulty in finding people to serve. The current practice involves a County Board member bringing an appointment forward and all five Board members voting on the appointment. By putting term limits into place, Sawatzke feels it takes away the Commissioners opportunity to bring the name of someone forward. He referenced the language relating to the residence of a BOA member which states, “all members of the Board of Adjustment must reside or own property in an unincorporated area of the County.” He agrees with the concept, but he said through redistricting there could be a Commissioner District with all cities. That would not prevent them from appointing someone from outside of their District. He thought it would be challenging if they only had a pool of candidates that resided in cities that owned property in townships. He thought the County Board could decide whether to appoint a BOA member if they do not reside in the township.
Riley stated the new State law requires one individual be from an unincorporated area. The PC had originally proposed three but during the course of the public hearings, it was modified to five. Previously, it was zero. Sawatzke said right now, all five BOA members are from unincorporated areas. He was unsure if there has been a time when someone on the BOA didn’t live in the township or own land in a township. Sawatzke had an appointee who moved from Monticello Township to St. Michael, but owned land in Monticello Township. They continued to serve for a couple more years. Sawatzke thought that for the most part, the members should be from unincorporated areas. If a BOA member moves but still has time remaining in their term, they should possibly be allowed to carry out the term. The proposed language would take away that opportunity. Sawatzke asked Riley whether the same policies are being looked at for the PC. Riley said the PC directed staff to draft language on PC term limits, but it was not clearly stated where members should reside.
Eichelberg referenced the 5/2 vote of the PC on term limits and inquired as to how long these individuals have served on the PC. Sawatzke said this is outlined in the Board packet material. Sawatzke said his PC member has served for a number of terms. His BOA member is one of the newest appointments. Eichelberg asked if those that voted for term limits did so because they couldn’t find a replacement in that particular area so they chose to continue to serve, or whether there is another reason they voted to have term limits. Riley said Planning & Zoning is trying to remain neutral. In observing the discussions, he felt the issue has to do with the concept and did not feel it was being directed at any one individual or problem. The PC also discussed the concept of having term limits extended to positions such as Commissioners, the Senate, etc.
Russek said the Ordinance language reflects one person must serve on both the BOA and PC. He questioned with term limits how they will be able to find that one person, and whether they will find a person who has the time and ability to serve in both capacities. Russek said some PC members do not feel this will be difficult to do. He recalled this situation when Jim Taylor served on both Boards. Lawrence Bauman has served since. He did not feel it will be easy to find a person to serve.
Sawatzke said the action today would be relative only to the BOA members. If the proposed language is approved, only two members will be eligible to serve at the end of the upcoming term (from Thelen and Sawatzke’s Districts). Schermann, Bauman, and Schmidt would be beyond their terms. Sawatzke said his appointment is not subject to term limits at this time. However, he did not feel he should be able to tell the other Commissioners that they cannot bring their candidates name forward if they want to. He said if any of the Commissioners feel their appointment has been around too long or a new perspective is needed, that is up to that Commissioner to bring a name forward. Sawatzke said some consistency is needed. Policies are written on paper, but to some extent, interpretation creates policy over time as well.
Thelen referenced the two issues Sawatzke brought up (members residing in unincorporated areas and term limits) and asked him to clarify whether he would support the entire proposal. Sawatzke said those are the two areas that he noticed. He feels members should, by in large, be from unincorporated areas. There could be an odd situation where someone moves into a city and questioned whether they should be allowed to serve out their term. Eichelberg said with redistricting, there could be districts with only cities (not unincorporated areas). Sawatzke said it would have to be decided then whether the appointment is from within that district or whether the appointment would have to come from another district’s unincorporated area. Sawatzke said cities make up 85%-90% of his District, but he has always selected PC and BOA appointments from the unincorporated areas.
Thelen is in favor of term limits. She serves on a number of boards in other counties with term limits. She supports giving new people a chance. She stated that sometimes a particular group of people may develop a culture on the Board; term limits open this up to newer thinking or other ideas. Selecting new people does not mean they would get rid of policy. Thelen said there can be self-perpetuating boards that go on forever. It is difficult for a new person in this atmosphere to get anything moving forward as things are set in place. Thelen supported looking at this. She said the people on these committees voted in favor of term limits.
Russek said Franklin Denn stated that if term limits are implemented, then they are limiting the County Board on who they can appoint. Russek said he will never vote in favor of term limits. Term limits were discussed years ago. One concept is that term limits eliminate the good person. Russek stated that if the person is not doing their job, they will not get reappointed. He referenced the good job Lawrence Bauman has done over the years. He said it is not necessarily easy to find appointments, and the BOA meets in the morning.
Eichelberg stated he is torn on this decision as there are good arguments on both sides. He said the PC voted for term limits. He questioned why have committees if the Board is not going to respect their recommendation. On the other side, appointments may be hard to fill on both the BOA and PC.
Mattson is not in favor of term limits and said those serving on the BOA and PC have done a terrific job. They will inform him if they feel they have overstayed their time. Mattson said the BOA and PC are very important in Wright County. There may be other levels of committees that a person can serve on. Mattson said the BOA and PC rank highly on the level of importance. Russek referenced Jeff Burns and Tammy Dahlman who served on the Extension Committee. Both were very good members and were term limited off. On the Human Services committee appointments, term limits had to be ceased as they were unable to find people to serve. He will not vote in favor of term limits. Sawatzke referenced Mattson’s comments on members letting the Commissioner know when they feel they want to leave. He said the Commissioners will likewise tell a member if they feel it is time to leave. Thelen said she is not indicating those on the Boards are not good. Some are excellent and she would hate to see them term limited off. She felt that if a problem arises where they can not find an appointment from an area, the Board could revisit it at that time. Thelen feels there is a lot of talent out there that may not have the opportunity to serve.
Eichelberg stated that elected officials have term limits by virtue of elections. Sawatzke responded that the BOA and PC members do as well. It takes a majority of the County Board to identify if a member has been around too long and is no longer representing the Policy or Ordinance. Sawatzke said in reading the PC minutes, it is not necessarily members who have served a long time that are interpreting things their own way versus following the Ordinance. Russek said the first mission of the PC and BOA is to uphold the Ordinance. It is their job to determine whether it fits policy, not to set policy.
Eichelberg favored laying this issue over for a couple of weeks to allow more time for review. They were just provided this information a few days ago. He would like to talk with constituents about this issue. Sawatzke asked the other Board members for their opinions on whether PC and BOA members should be from unincorporated areas. He said they should strive to appoint members from townships as that is the area covered by the PC and BOA. He questioned whether others feel it should be a hard and fast rule. Russek said that at the PC, discussion occurred on redistricting and the possibility that a District may not have unincorporated areas. Although it has been suggested that if this occurs, a member could be selected from another District. However, Russek felt there should be an opportunity to have a member represented from that Commissioner’s District. Mattson said that his District currently has five towns. Those towns have their own Planning Commissions. If someone within a city wants to serve, they can run within their city. Mattson said he fortunately has a lot of rural area to select an appointment from. With regard to the PC and BOA, Mattson supported selecting members from unincorporated areas unless someone moves into a city and wants to fill out their term. Thelen said she does not have an opinion on that. However, there might be someone who resides within a city with a lot of talent who would be a good member of either of these Boards.
Discussion followed on the language of the Amendment. Eichelberg felt the language could be changed to reflect that it is recommended that members of the BOA reside or own property in an unincorporated area of the County. Riley said there are some language options. The State requests at least one member meet this criteria. Sawatzke suggested at least three members, possibly four. The County has not required any in the past, even though they have all been that way. Per law, they must now require at least one. Thelen supports three members from the unincorporated areas. Eichelberg supports at least three, maybe four. He visualizes at least one District will represent all cities through redistricting. Russek said the original proposal was for at least three members. Sawatzke stated that would be more restrictive than the current Ordinance and it provides more protection.
Sawatzke said Eichelberg requested laying this issue over for a couple of weeks. He heard Russek and Mattson say they will not support term limits. Sawatzke does not like the concept either as he feels it takes away from the County Board’s authority to select. Sawatzke felt laying the issue over just prolongs the discussion. Sawatzke moved to adopt Ordinance Amendment #11-05, to approve the recommendations including the following change to 502.1, paragraph 2, 3rd sentence should read: “Every attempt shall be made to obtain a cross section of the County in appointing members to the Board, and at least three (3) members of the Board of Adjustment must reside or own property in an unincorporated area of the County.” The motion includes eliminating any term limit requirements. The motion was seconded by Mattson. Thelen asked whether the motion could be split, allowing for a vote on the two changes individually. Sawatzke said the motion will stand. Eichelberg said he can agree to the first issue and might agree with the second one at a later date relating to term limits. Thelen said she can agree with the first issue but is not in agreement with the second issue relating to term limits. Russek asked whether term limits were discussed for Commissioners. Kryzer said this was discussed at the Township Officers Meeting. Sawatzke said he has seen a number of Commissioners voted out through election. The motion carried 3-2 with Eichelberg and Thelen casting the nay votes.
Ordinance Amendment #11-05
The Wright County Zoning Ordinance is hereby amended as follows:
Delete Section 502 APPEALS AND BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT and insert:
502.1 Creation and Membership
A Board of Adjustment is hereby established. The Board shall be appointed by the Wright County Board of Commissioners and shall consist of five (5) members, one of whom must be a member of the Planning Commission. Effective May 12, 1987, the County Board shall appoint members to the Board of Adjustment for terms as follows:
Two (2) members with terms ending December 31, 1987;
Two (2) members with terms ending December 31, 1988;
One (1) member term ending December 31, 1989.
Thereafter, members of the Board shall be appointed for three (3) year terms beginning January 1. Members may be removed from office by the County Board for good cause shown. Every attempt shall be made to obtain a cross section of the County in appointing members to the Board, and at least three (3) members of the Board of Adjustment must reside or own property in an unincorporated area of the County.
No elected officer of the County, nor any employee of the County shall serve as a member of the Board of Adjustment. The members of the Board of Adjustment shall be compensated as determined by the County Board and shall be paid their necessary expenses in the conduct of the business of the Board.
Members shall not vote on issues on which they have a conflict of interest. Any question of whether a particular issue involves a conflict of interest sufficient to disqualify a regular board member from voting thereon shall be decided by majority vote of regular board members except the member who is challenged.
The Board of Adjustment shall elect a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson from among its members and it shall appoint a secretary who need not be a member of the Board. It shall adopt rules for the transaction of its business. Such rules may include provisions for the giving of oaths to witness and the filing of written briefs by the parties. The Board shall provide a public record of its proceedings which shall include the minutes of its meetings, its findings, and the action taken on each matter heard by it, including the final order.
Meetings of the Board of Adjustment shall be held at the call of the Chair and at such other times as the Board in its rules of procedure may specify.
502.2 General Duties and Responsibilities: Variances and Administrative Appeals
The Board of Adjustment shall act upon all requests for variances and upon all questions as they may arise in the administration of this Ordinance, including the interpretation of zoning maps, and it shall hear and decide appeals from and review any order, requirement, decision, or determination made by any administrative official charged with enforcing the Ordinance. Such appeal may be taken by any person, firm, or corporation aggrieved, or by any officer, department, board or bureau of a town, municipality, county, or state.
Hearings by the Board of Adjustment shall be held within such time and upon such notice to interested parties as is provided in its adopted rules of procedure. The Board of Adjustment shall establish criteria necessary in its rules of procedure for filing an application for a Variance or an Appeal. Written notice of hearings held by the Board of Adjustment shall be sent to affected property owners as provided by law. The Board of Adjustment shall make its decision within fifteen (15) days of the hearing, but may continue the hearing to such length of time as it deems necessary to properly consider each case.
The Board of Adjustment may reverse or affirm wholly or partly, or may modify the order, requirement, decision, or determination appealed from and to that end shall have all powers of the officer to whom the appeal was taken and direct the issuance of a permit. The reasons for the Board’s decision shall be stated in writing.
502.3 Variance Authority
The Board of Adjustment shall have the exclusive power to order issuance of variances from the terms of any official control including restrictions placed on nonconformities. Variances shall only be permitted when they are in harmony with the general purpose and intent of the official control, and when the variances are consistent with the Comprehensive Plan. Variances may be granted when the applicant for the variance establishes the criteria under Section 502.4 are met and there are practical difficulties in complying with the official control. “Practical difficulties,” as used in connection with the granting of a variance, means that the property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner not permitted by an official control; the plight of the landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the landowner; and the variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the locality. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties. Practical difficulties include, but are not limited to, inadequate access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems. Variances shall be granted for earth sheltered construction as defined by Minn. Stat.§ 216C.06, subdivision 14, when in harmony with the official controls. No variance may be granted that would allow any use that is not allowed in the zoning district in which the subject property is located. The Board of Adjustment may impose conditions in the granting of variances. A condition must be directly related to and must bear a rough proportionality to the impact created by the variance.
502.4 Findings
(1) The Board of Adjustment must review variance petitions and consider the following factors prior to finding that a practical difficulty has been presented. The applicant must provide a statement of evidence addressing the following elements to the extent they are relevant to the applicant’s situation.
(a) The granting of the variance will be in harmony with the County Land Use Plan.
(b) The property owner proposes to use the property in a reasonable manner not permitted by an official control.
(c) The plight of the owner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the owner.
(d) The proposal does not alter the essential character of the locality.
(e) The practical difficulty cannot be alleviated by a method other than a variance; and.
(f) The granting of the variance will not adversely affect the environmental quality of the area.
The Board of Adjustment may grant a variance if it finds that all of the above factors have been established. The Board of Adjustment must not approve a variance request unless the applicant proves all of the above factors and established that there are practical difficulties in complying with official controls. The burden of proof of these matters rests completely on the applicant.
(2) Bad Faith
In addition to applying the factors above, in all situations where an applicant has applied for any variance “after-the-fact,” the Board may factor into its decision any elements of “bad faith”.
502.5 Other Duties of the Board of Adjustment
(1) Lots of Record that do not meet the standards of Section 404 or 612.5(6)
The Board of Adjustment must decide if lots of record that do not meet the standards of Section 404 or 612.5(6) may be used as dwelling sites. The Board shall consider the following in making that determination:
(a) Extraordinary alteration of the lot through filling or excavation shall not constitute proof of an adequate site for sanitary facilities;
(b) When there is limited space for sewage treatment or no alternative sewage treatment site, the Board may limit the square footage of any proposed dwelling or expansion and may designate the site for seasonal use only; and,
(c) The existing or proposed sewage treatment system must conform with Section 716 of this Ordinance.
(2) Lot Line Adjustments
The Board of Adjustment may review lots of record in the office of the County Recorder which do not meet standards established by this Ordinance for size, width, elevation, depth, or other provisions. The Board may require that such parcels be joined, combined, modified in size, shape, or other ways to more nearly achieve the standards of this Ordinance if the owner wishes to use such parcels as building sites. The Board may initiate such proceedings or may act upon request of the property owner. If the Board determines that the lot is not acceptable as a building site, the Zoning Administrator shall provide a copy of the Board’s findings to the Wright County Assessor.
(3) Allowances for Lots not Acceptable as Building Sites
When practical means of a lot adjustment cannot be made under Section 502.5 (1) above, and in other appropriate circumstances, the Board of Adjustment may declare a lot not acceptable as a building site. When the Board does so, no well, sewage treatment system, nor holding tank may be installed on the lot.
Lots declared not acceptable as building sites may be allowed, as reasonably determined by the Board of Adjustment:
(a) One garage or other accessory building provided no living quarters nor plumbing are installed and all other Ordinance standards are met.
(b) One travel trailer, excluding a park trailer; if it complies with all the conditions of Section 717.
(4) Flood Plain Interpretation
Where interpretation is needed as to the exact location of Flood Plain District boundaries, as for example where there appears to be a conflict between the mapped boundary and actual field conditions, the Board must make the necessary interpretation based on elevations of the regional (100-year) flood profile and other available technical data.
(5) Temporary Use Permits
In instances of particular hardship, the Board of Adjustment may issue a Temporary Use Permit. Such permits must be renewed at a frequency determined by the Board of Adjustment and administered by the Zoning Administrator. Temporary Use Permits are valid for six (6) months or such other time period as the Board of Adjustment may deem appropriate. Written agreement from the applicant concerning the understanding between the applicant and the Board of Adjustment is to be filed with the Zoning Administrator before a Temporary Use Permit is issued.
The Zoning Administrator may grant a Temporary Use Permit for no more than forty-five (45) days in an emergency when the requirement to wait for the Board of Adjustment to meet will cause undue hardship. This permit will only be valid if the applicant petitions for a Temporary Use Permit from the Board of Adjustment, and will expire when the Board acts on the petition.
502.6 Procedure
(1) The person applying for a hearing before the Board of Adjustment shall fill out and submit to the Zoning Administrator a hearing application form and fee as determined by the County Board. It shall be the responsibility of the applicant to provide all information necessary for the Board of Adjustment to reach a decision. All applications for variances must be accompanied by the following, unless the Zoning Administrator determines it is not needed for a proper review:
(a) A certificate of survey no more than five (5) years old which shows all existing and proposed structures, well, septic systems, and other pertinent data;
(b) A topographic grading plan showing all grading, surface water flow, and erosion control; and,
(c) A Certificate of Compliance for the septic system. If the system is noncompliant, needs to be enlarged, or a new system is proposed, a full design for the system may be needed.
(2) The Zoning Administrator shall refer the application to the Board of Adjustment for review. Notice shall be provided as required by Minnesota Statutes 394.26.
(3) The Board of Adjustment shall hold a public hearing on the proposal. The petitioner or his representative shall appear before the Board in order to answer questions concerning the proposal.
(4) The Board of Adjustment may approve, approve with modifications or conditions, or deny an application based on the information available and findings of the Board. All decisions by the Board of Adjustment shall be final, except that any aggrieved person or persons, or any department, board or commission of the jurisdiction or of the state shall have the right to appeal within thirty (30) days, after receipt of notice of the decision, to the District Court in the County in which the land is located on questions of law and fact.
(5) A certified copy of any order issued by the Board of Adjustment acting upon an appeal from an order, requirement, or decision or determination by an administrative official, or a request for a variance, shall be filed with the County Recorder. The order issued by the Board of Adjustment shall include the legal description of the property involved. The Zoning Administrator shall be responsible for the document recording requirements of this section.
(6) Any violation of a condition or ruling made by the Board of Adjustment shall be a violation of this ordinance. Failure to comply with any ruling of the Board of Adjustment shall void any variance or special permit granted by the Board of Adjustment.
(7) A variance shall be valid for a period of three (3) years, and if not acted upon by the applicant or his assigns within that time, the variance shall be void.
Enacting Clause:
This ordinance amendment is effective the day following final adoption and publication. The enacting clause will not be incorporated into the final Wright County Zoning Ordinance.
Adopted by the Wright County Board of Commissioners this 1st day of November, 2011.
(End of Ordinance Amendment #11-05)
Eichelberg moved to adopt Resolution #11-48, authorizing the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership to administer the Rental Rehabilitation Deferred Loan Program for Wright County. The motion was seconded by Thelen and carried 5-0 on a roll call vote. The Central Minnesota Housing Partnership has been administering the Program for Wright County and other jurisdictions since 1996. The Resolution renews the Agreement with them. It authorizes the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership to submit an Application for Administrative Authority to Minnesota Housing (MHFA) for participating in the Rental Rehabilitation Deferred Loan Program, and the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership is designated as the administrative body for implementing this Program in Wright County.
Russek received information from AMC on the Local Government Redesign Innovation Sessions being held at various locations in Minnesota in November. The closest Session is being held in Waite Park on 11-15-11. Eichelberg moved to authorize attendance of the Board at any of the Sessions, seconded by Thelen. The motion carried 5-0.
A draft resolution was received from Wayne Fingalson, Highway Engineer, which would approve an Agency Agreement Amendment for the City of Otsego Safe Routes to School Project. The Agreement, previously approved by the County Board, is being amended to add additional non-infrastructure portions to the Safe Routes to School Project in Otsego. Sawatzke said he assumes Fingalson and the City of Otsego support this. The County is the fiscal agent for the project and feels Otsego must have asked for the Amendment. Sawatzke moved to adopt Resolution #11-49, seconded by Eichelberg, carried 5-0 on a roll call vote.
The meeting adjourned at 9:54 A.M.
Bills Approved
Ameripride Services. $262.57
Annandale Rock Products 116.81
Anoka County Sheriff 11,741.07
Aramark Services Inic. 6,627.75
Automatic Garage Door & Fi 137.80
BNSF Railway Company 60,790.42
BP Amoco 1,982.50
Buffalo Hospital-Otpt. Comm. 4,315.80
Cenex Fleetcard 637.36
Centra Sota Cooperative - E 10,341.04
Central Mn Mental Health C 580.00
CenturyLink 992.23
Clearwater/City of 709.00
Climate Air 348.00
Commissioner of Transport 542.18
Corinna Township 957.00
Crop Production Services II 492.90
CST Distribution LLC 2,257.62
Cub Foods 167.24
Decker/Tom 125.00
Dept. of Corrections 28,917.00
Diers/Carter 375.50
Dingmann Marine & More LLC 516.02
EPA Audio Visual Inc. 2,973.10
Federal Signal Corporation 106.41
Fyles Excavating & Honey W 875.00
Gabriel/Cathleen 200.00
Glock Professional Inc. 195.00
Grainger 110.43
Hardrives Inc. 248,474.47
Hatfield/Brad 125.00
Hillyard Inc. - Minneapolis 2,205.34
Howard & Tolins 100.00
Image Builders 266.73
Janikula/Tracy 174.58
Jeddeloh & Snyder PA 1,096.50
Jerrys Towing & Repair 171.00
Klimmek/Tammy 157.00
Kramber/Greg 244.00
L3 Communications Inc. 221.24
LaPlant Demo Inc. 454.31
Larson/RL Excavating, Inc. 498,416.86
Laurent/Michael 169.79
Lawson Products Inc. 783.33
Marco Inc. 6,697.77
Marietta Aggregates/Martin 453.30
Mathiowetz Construction 97,076.36
Matthew Bender & Company 271.40
Metro Group Inc./The 1,922.61
Midwest Protection Agency 298.82
Midwest Safety Counselors 1,296.46
MN Assn. of Assessing Offic 170.00
MN Attorney Generals Office 380/78
MN Chemical Company 1,247.23
MN Monitoring Inc. 5,449.75
Monticello Township 1,270.00
Moore & Moore Water Treat 150.00
North Suburban Towing Inc. 171.00
Northern States Power Com 867.89
Office Depot 1,667.27
Purick/Ryan 200.00
Ramacciotti/Frank 300.00
Redstone Construction Co. 281,618.45
Redwood Biotech Inc. 236.82
RS Eden 3,389.75
Russek/John 203.00
Sirchie Finger Print Labora 185.00
Software House Internat 399.71
Special Forces Paintball LLC 148.78
Specialty Turf & Ag 638.85
Sprint 11,434.75
Strand/Elizabeth H. 100.00
Total Printing 1,048.45
Verizon Wireless 168.63
Waldron/Tom 125.00
Walmart Store 01-1577 865.07
Waverly/City of 457.60
Wolff/J. Shannon 125.00
Wright County Highway Dept 898.96
20 Payments less than $100 1,147.33
Final total $1,314,534.69
The meeting adjourned at 9:54 A.M
Published in the Herald Journal Nov. 21, 2011

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