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Variance board asks residents to report shoreland breaches

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news Park Rapids, 56470
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The Hubbard County Board of Adjustment continues to grant variances to lakeshore residents upgrading their properties, especially if they are moving structures further from the water's edge.

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And temporary board chair Jerry Cole issued a plea to the public gathered at Monday's meeting that "if you see these things (potential shoreland violations) please bring them to our attention. We don't have the staff to drive around looking for them."

That request came about as a result of an after-the fact violation on Lake Belle Taine that was denied a variance.

Property owners Bert and Mary Olson had placed a platform structure 15 feet from the lake on their property. They said they didn't realize they needed a variance and were simply placing a temporary structure near the shore so they could sit on it.

"There's a 16-foot deck in front of the cabin that's suitable," pointed out board member Tom Krueger.

But Mary Olson introduced numerous photographs of similar structures around the lake, including platforms, full-fledged decks and stairways with platforms running down to the lakeshore, as evidence that others are encroaching toward the water.

"The first 50 feet from the lakeshore is sacred," explained board member Charles Knight. In the case of the Belle Taine platform, a 100-foot setback from the ordinary high water mark was required.

But Mary Olson, when told the ordinance changed in 1971 grandfathering older structures closer to the lakeshore, said she doubted many of the decks she photographed were that old.

That prompted Cole's request for residents to come forward to report potential violations.

The board voted 5-0 to have the Olsons remove the structure by July 1.

"Can you do it by July 1?" Krueger asked.

"It looks like I don't have a choice," Bert Olson responded.

"We're not picking on you," Cole tried to assure the Olsons. "We're trying to pick on everyone who does something like this."

"I don't think it belongs there," said board member Earl Benson of the deck. "I don't know how we can allow this to remain there. Everybody on the lake or in the county will want one."

Mary Olson asked if the couple could place a wooden swing near the shore. Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf suggested the homeowners work with his office to make sure they're not erecting a permanent structure near the water.

In other business, the board:

n Granted a variance to Nick Schneeman to build a different shaped cabin further from Lower Bottle Lake's shore than presented in an earlier variance request.

The cabin will be shaped more rectangular and would sit 66 feet from the lakeshore, not the 51 feet previously granted, but occupy the same footprint.

DNR Fisheries supervisor Doug Kingsley asked the board to condition the request on a timeline and implement consolidation and centralization of the two docks on the property to maximize the "contiguous shoreline that remains undeveloped."

Last year the former resort converted to a family Planned Unit Development on a peninsula between Lower Bottle and Lake Emma. Several cabins are to be replaced eventually, the Schneeman family indicated.

The board at the time wanted to place a sunset clause on the renovations. During the final vote, members forgot to add it,

Kingsley reminded the board Monday of that omission. Board members asked Schneeman if two years would be adequate to complete the exterior work. He agreed.

"One year is unreasonable to me," Krueger said, indicating he would vote for a longer extension.

Coalition of Lake Associations president Dan Kittelson questioned why, in the original variance request, the cabin could not be moved back to the 66-foot depth that it will be now. He, too, asked the board to condition granting the variance on planting shoreland buffers.

The board passed the variance request without conditioning it on adding shoreland vegetation or centralizing the docks.

n Granted a variance to Wayne and Linda Warmbold to make some exterior modifications to their Long Lake cabin. The couple is building a fireplace, modifying an existing platform and extending an overhang.

"Everything they're doing is trying to bring everything closer to the ordinance," Cole said in voting for the variance, which passed 5-0.

Once again Kittelson tried to get the board to condition the variance on some shoreline mitigation, installing rain barrels and placing a buffer zone on the water's edge. The cabin sits 11 feet from the shore and has been grandfathered in many years, board members pointed out.

They declined to condition the "reasonable request" on shoreland modifications because "they're trying to make the structure more livable and reducing the impervious surface" of the old deck.

n Granted a variance to Mark and Charlene Ann Cohrs to place an addition on their Lower Bottle Lake home that was well out of the shore impact zone and met all setback requirements.

The couple explained they have an L-shaped home and are filling in the L with an addition.

The addition will be a bedroom. An old bedroom will be converted to a dining room. Because they are not adding more bedrooms, no change is necessary in the home's septic system.

The house was originally built with a variance, so any improvements they make to the structure require a variance.

The couple's builder said he is extending gutters to divert the rainwater away from the lake.

n Granted a variance to Dion and Suzann Pederson to create a guest cottage larger than 700 square feet on their Lake Peysenske home.

The board reasoned that the 5-acre lot had ample room for the cottage. The previous owners converted a barn into a game room. The Pedersons want to upgrade the septic system to put a guest bathroom in the structure.

n Granted a variance to Gregory Sperle that would entail work within the bluff impact zone of his Little Sand Lake home to repair a retaining wall.

Sperle and his wife said they needed to repair footings beneath an addition that have fallen into disrepair and would also place a basement addition beneath an existing sunroom. An existing deck would be altered and upgraded.

Landscape architect Steve Hall said the project would add shrubs and native plants to provide a shoreland buffer and would use pervious pavers on a walkway and stairs.

"This is the kind of thing that COLA is talking about," Kittelson said in support of the project. Hall is also a COLA member. He said excavation would be the least intrusive possible, with the plan designed to make the bluff more stable.

"There are critical aspects to protect the water quality of the lakes," Kittelson said in explaining the organization's goals and support of the project.

"It's needed," Knight said of the project.

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Sarah Smith
Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.
(218) 732-3364
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