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Board of Adjustment: poverty variance?

Should the Hubbard County Board of Adjustment give a variance break to a cash-strapped non-profit struggling to upgrade its lakeshore property?

Should a homeowner have to atone for the environmental sins of a previous owner?

Those were the issues facing the board at its first meeting of 2010.

The answers were yes, and yes.

In the case of the nonprofit, Camp Courage was seeking to upgrade a building on its Lake George site. The log structure is deteriorating, a camp official said.

But to save money, the log portion of the structure will be demolished, leaving only the bathrooms and septic lines in place.

The camp needed a variance because it was seeking to add on to a nonconforming structure that doesn't meet the ordinary 100-foot high water setback. It's too close to the lake.

The camp doesn't have the funding to meet the setback requirements, said director Tom Fogarty.

Alternate board member Tom Krueger, who also sits on the Planning Commission, seemed to struggle with the concept and eventually was the lone vote against it.

"This looks like a complete rebuild," he said. "Why not meet the setback?"

"I understand your quandary," admitted board member Jerry Cole. "I feel bad saying anything against it."

The board approved the request.

With regard to the property owner who bought a Potato lakeshore home that the previous owner had cleared illegally of all trees near the lakeshore, Park Rapids resident Gary Edevold repeatedly told the board it didn't happen on his ownership watch.

He, too, was seeking a setback variance for a new residential structure and new septic system.

Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf suggested conditioning approval on the homeowner curing the "vegetative alteration violation."

"I don't know what the vegetation issue is," Edevold protested. "All I did was remove the old timber after the previous owner cut down the willow trees. I didn't remove any living trees. I only cleaned the dead stuff out."

Buitenwerf said the county deals with the current property owner, regardless of when the violation occurred.

Cole suggested Edevold contact the Potato Lake Association for help and possible funding in restoring the trees. The variances were granted.

In other business, the board:

-Approved a request by Allen McKay to rebuild a residential structure on Eagle Lake that was within the 100-foot setback.

McKay told the board he would move the home back as far as he could without impacting a wetland area.

Neighbors had objected, saying the new structure should meet the setback requirements.

"He deserves to be able to use his property," Cole said in voting to approve the request.

-Approved a drain field site between Lower Bottle and Stocking lakes for property owners Mark and Linda Hesse even though they did not attend the meeting. A garage addition and septic system did not meet the setback requirements for either lake.

"Being between those two lakes there's not a lot of choice there," said alternate board member Jerry Novak.

The board will not meet again until March 15.

Sarah Smith

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

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