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Adjustment Board goes its own way

By Sarah Smith

The Hubbard County Board of Adjustment continues to carve new ground – unapologetically.

The Planning Commission, meeting as the Board of Adjustment, without county board member Greg Larson, continued last Monday what was to become a marathon session.

Real estate agent Israel Moe entered into a complicated negotiation on behalf of clients interested in buying New Stream Real Estate LLC on Wolf and Mud Lakes.

The couple was requesting an after-the-fact variance for a residence that did not meet the 150-foor setback from Mud Lake but did from Wolf Lake.

The BOA discovered the entity had four residences on a lot sized for one dwelling unit.

Moe said environmental entanglements have hampered the sale of the foreclosed property.

A 2003 variance allowed a structure that was supposed to be 30-by-100 feet but was built larger, 68 feet from the ordinary high water mark of Mud Lake. At some point four additional cabins materialized. The main home was overbuilt by 1,320 square feet.

The applicants want to use the property as a family retreat, acknowledging that the 102,801 square foot lot size was far short of the minimum lot size for a “quadriplex.” The ordinance doesn’t allow for four separate structures to be used as dwelling units on the property.

“This has been a black eye for the county,” Moe told the board.

“Clearly the size of the house is almost unbelievable to me,” BOA member Ken Grob said, suggesting a variance for the home only and not for the cabins.

The Environmental Services Office recommended denial of all three aspects of the request.

That sent Moe and his clients into three separate strategy huddles and a compromise was eventually reached.

The board approved the house with some deck additions and three docks but denied the request to exceed dwelling unit density, so three cabins will be removed and the couple was not allowed to build a 30-by-40 foot pole barn.

n The board postponed a variance decision for Jason and Dawn Danford to add a detached garage to their Eighth Crow Wing home pending further measurements. The reason was to see if a less disruptive area could be located for the structure. The Environmental Services Office had recommended denial of the original request. A bluff occupies much of the rear of the lot and begins in the shore impact zone, which in turn affects the garage’s setback.

n Approved an after-the-fact variance for David Washburn and Amy Hietala to allow a deck attached to their LaSalle Lake home to remain in the bluff impact zone. The original house plans did not include the deck, which was added in 2011.

“What they did was in good faith, reasonable,” Grob said.

n Approved a request by Kevin Lund to make an unimproved lot into an approved lot over the objections of outgoing COLA president Dan Kittilson.

The lot does not comply with the 150-foot ordinary high water setback but was created compliant with past rules. A neighbor’s well is causing a practical difficulty for situating the septic system.

“Little Sand Lake is the number one water quality lake in Hubbard County,” Kittilson said, asking the board to note the distance from the septic system to the lake.

“Consider the lake and the water quality,” he implored. “That’s your job, to protect the water quality,” Kittilson said.

The Environmental Services Offices had recommended denying the variance, recommending a “less intense use” than a three-bedroom cabin. The recommended uses were a travel trailer or RV because of drainfield issues with the neighbor.

Lund maintains when he bought the lot he was told it was buildable.

“It’s 1.7 acres,” Lund said.

The board sidestepped the ESO’s wishes and approved the variance, indicating the owner would be deprived of a reasonable use of his property if it was not granted.

Even if it could not comply with the requirement of two drainfield sites and the setback, the request was in harmony with the “rules of the comprehensive plan.”

That angered one resident, who protested that he and others had to follow the ordinances, so Lund should have to as well.

“What happened in the past is not our concern,” BOA chair Tom Krueger said.

n Approved a variance request by Bruce Krabbenhoft to put a residence on an unimproved lot on Big Stony Lake that does not comply with minimum size requirements. The department recommended approval because there’s ample room for the two drainfield sites and house.

Again, a neighbor complained that two variances granted on the lake “greatly exceeded” the plans and that’s discouraging.

“Why were ordinances set down when we can change them?” she asked.

Krabbenhoft agreed to remove the old access buildings. The board granted the variance request because “it’s a width issue” on the lot.

n Granted a request by Robert Murphy and Richard Burquist to move a retaining wall on Lake Belle Taine.

They requested a variance for earth removal on a steep slope on the shore impact zone.

The department recommended approval to stabilize the slope and “keep its weight from pushing into and through the house,” a departmental staff report recommended.

n Approved a variance request by H. Craig and Jinx Stanwick, who sat through four hours of meeting to wait their turn on the agenda.

The couple was allowed to relocate an existing driveway on Lake Belle Taine from the neighbor’s property but that wouldn’t comply with a 10-foot side lot setback. That, in turn, would allow the driveway to be closer to the lake than the 100 feet required.

The couple has worked with the Soil and Water Conservation District to manage a long-standing erosion situation.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

(218) 732-3364