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Board of Adjustment acts with caution

The Hubbard County Board of Adjustment, defendants in a recently filed lawsuit, tiptoed delicately Monday on procedural matters during the monthly meeting.

Frequently the five-member board consulted Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf before granting or denying variances to make sure the powerful board was on solid ground first.

It is an alleged procedural lapse in granting dock slips to a residential Planned Unit Development this winter that is the subject of the suit filed by Fifth Crow Wing Lake residents and supporters.

The power the board wields was evident Monday as the group voted unanimously that a 6-acre parcel on Potato Lake could never be subdivided if the current owner wished to build a combination garage/guest cabin on the land.

Owner David Anderson agreed.

Buitenwerf said such conditions run with the land in perpetuity, meaning subsequent owners would be bound by the decree, not simply Anderson.

Anderson, bringing a request to the board filed by previous owner Keith Batton, requested a variance to build a garage with a guest room and bathroom in it.

"There's not enough square footage" for a guest cabin, said member Charles Knight. "I'm having difficulty with it at this time."

"It's a large lot so there's no density problems," said board member Earl Benson. "It's six acres or more. I don't have a problem with it."

Guest cabins can have a maximum 700 square feet under the Shoreland Management Ordinances.

But board chair Lou Schwindt said the garage occupies most of the excess footage the variance request was for. Because the lot did not meet the minimum lot width requirements necessary for a guest cabin, Anderson decided to combine the guest quarters with the workshop/garage.

"I don't see it as a 700+ square foot guest cabin," Schwindt said. "I see it as 300+ square feet. You have plenty of lot size."

The board approved the variance with the condition the lot can never be subdivided by Anderson or any subsequent owner.

In other action, the board:

Granted a request by Long Lake residents Lou and Mary K. Schultz to build a storage garage on an unimproved lot across the road that would not meet the 20-foot road right-of-way setback.

"You're well outside 100 feet of the lake," board member Jerry Cole said.

n Denied a variance by Michael and Rebecca Wheeler to build a guest cabin on Duck Lake when the lot didn't meet the minimum lot size requirements.

The Wheelers requested permission to build a garage with a sleeping loft above it. The board said the couple could build the garage, but should explore the option of adding on to the cabin rather than making separate quarters above the garage.

"This lot is less than half an acre in size," said Benson. "If we grant this variance we'll have 30 people trying to do the same thing."

n Granted a request by John and Linda Smith to replace a failing retaining wall system of railroad ties on Lake Belle Taine with boulders and then replace a paver stone platform in the shore impact zone that would incur damage as a result of the construction.

"I'm pleased they'd replace the railroad ties and get the creosote out of the lake," Knight said.

"You're looking at a massive improvement to this property," Cole said.

n Granted a request by Allan Sjodin to build a garage on an unimproved lot on Upper Bottle Lake that lacks a principal residential structure on it.

Lake residents had urged a denial, maintaining the garage would be an eyesore as viewed from the lake and because the garage didn't meet the ordinary high water setback from the lake.

"I stay here all winter," Sjodin said.

"Then you need a garage," Benson replied.

n Granted a request by John and Sanja Wallace to build a residential structure about 30 feet closer to the lake than the ordinary high water mark would allow.

But the board placed several conditions on the building process, including the placement of the fill that would be necessary to elevate the home to prevent water damage on a soggy lot.

And, because the lot had a previously granted building variance that was never acted upon, members put a three-year sunset clause on building the house frame so the second variance wouldn't end up dormant, too.

Knight voiced some objections to the fill.

"I don't think we can make a perfect lot for people buying land," he said.

The board conditioned the variance on Wallace stopping the fill 10 feet from the house front to prevent erosion into Lake George.

Granted a variance for David and Rebecca Lindell to build a storage garage for trailers onto their Little Wolf Lake cabin.

n Tabled a request by Judy DeMers on an after-the-fact request to approve a 10-by-12 deck that juts out into the shore impact zone on Grace Lake.

"All of those properties are set in the shore impact zone," Cole said. "It's incredible."

The request was tabled because neither DeMers nor her representative attended the meeting and the board had several unanswered questions about the deck and a proposed addition.

Sarah Smith

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

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