Board deals with after the fact requests
By Sarah Smith
To the ever tricky lexicon of shoreland management terminology, add “creeping elegance” to gems like “bluff impact zone” and “ordinary high water mark.”
“It’s probably an old engineering product development expression that I have used for years,” said Board of Adjustment member Ken Grob. “You start out with something simple, pretty basic, you start working on it and somebody wants something a little bit more, you just keep on and growing it. Whether that’s the right terminology for this situation is that it just keeps growing and growing and growing,” he added.
He used the term to describe an after-the-fact request from Dennis and Nancy Carlson in which the couple acknowledged making numerous upgrades to their Midge Lake home that cumulatively transformed their cabin into a more elegant home. They were seeking a variance for an addition to an accessory structure that did not comply with the 100-foot ordinary high water mark setback, and additions to a residential structure located in the shore impact zone and did not comply with the 100-foot setback.
Carlsons, unaware they needed permits for a variance, added a garage to the end of their cabin in 2006. They added a storage shed in 2011.
The outdoor kitchen came over a period of several years, Dennis Carlson said. They’d been grilling on the deck and felt it was getting too hot. So they moved the grill onto a brick platform that eventually became an outdoor kitchen. A roof came sometime later. Then they added awnings after a windstorm in July 2012 blew down most of the trees.
Any structure with a roof needs a permit, Hubbard County Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf pointed out. And temporary structures are required to meet the same setback as permanent structures.
Oh, and he built an outdoor bar about a decade ago, Dennis Carlson said. There were also two camper pads for trailers to be located on the property.
The board granted the requests, finding that the unique location between Midge and Little Midge lakes was to be considered. Buitenwerf said “occasional intermittent use of campers” for summer guests does not require a permit. The couple said when their children visit, they occasionally bring a camper.
“Nothing says you can’t park a trailer or camper on your property,” Buitenwerf said.
Dennis Carlson said when a letter came from the ESO pointing out the violations “it was totally Greek to me.” His wife said she thought the Shoreland Management Ordinance pertained mostly to septic systems. Carlson said he’d checked with the township, which didn’t issue a permit for the upgrades.
Grob said with all the impervious surfaces, water was running directly off the various rooftops into the lake. But the board approved the requests on a 5-0 vote.
In other business Monday at the board’s monthly meeting, members:
Denied a variance request by Steve Budd to add on to a nonconforming structure at Vacationaire Estates on Island Lake.
Budd’s contractor, John Mason, explained with a growing family, an enlarged cabin would be more suitable for winter use and improve the resale value overall.
“If we approve it in essence we’re allowing a new structure in the shore impact zone,” Grob said. Board chair Lou Schwindt wondered, since the construction would be extensive, why the owners couldn’t just move the entire structure into compliance. Mason pointed out an access road prevented that.
“I think it’s excessive the way it was submitted,” said BOA member Tim Johnson.
COLA member Bill Cowman said the board should follow Buitenwerf’s recommendations and deny the request. “This is precedent setting,” he maintained. The addition would make the structure 178 percent larger than it currently is and double the height, the staff recommendations noted.
“Each one gets bigger than the one before,” Cowman said of the requests to enlarge, “What’s going to come after?”
The development has nine other cabins that may want to grow, the board discussed. The board denied the request 5-0 as too vast in scope.
Granted Dee Ann Thiede’s request to expand her bathroom four feet on her Duck Lake cabin to accommodate a larger shower stall.
Approved a request by Victor and Debra Olson to build a home on Spider Lake that was in the bluff impact zone and within the 100-foot setback.
Vic Olson said the rules governing bluff impact zones had changed since he first built. He wanted to subdivide another lot so that his son could build next to him. The board granted his request because location of a power line on the property constituted a practical difficulty, members reasoned, and allowed a closer setback.
Approved 4-1 a variance request by Carl Meyer to put an addition on his Third Crow Wing Lake home, which is nonconforming, and does not meet the 3-foot vertical separation between the structure’s floor and the highest known water level on the lake. The proposed addition was approved 4-1 by the board because the project scope wasn’t large enough to necessitate moving the cabin back into compliance.
“I don’t believe the situation would arise where the lake level would impact us,” said Meyer.
Grob objected to the request.
“We try hard not to perpetuate nonconformities in the shore impact zone,” he said, pointing out the Meyer home was 20 feet from the lake. “You’re basically building a new cabin. Yours is amenable to moving the cabin back.”
Meyer said he could not afford the cost of moving the home back.
“It’s a reasonable request and pre-dates the ordinance,” Johnson said.