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BOA ends four-year-old case; nixes screened-in porch

By Sarah Smith

Hubbard County’s Board of Adjustment has denied a four-year-old request by a Big Mantrap Lake homeowner to subdivide his property, ending a long-running dispute.

Land owned by Michael and Lisa Reinhart has no legal access to the lake. They want to subdivide it, potentially making two, and possibly eight lots without access.

The matter was first brought before the BOA in 2009 and has been tabled to allow the Reinharts and the affected residents time to work out an easement satisfactory to all.

That was not done. Reinhart admitted he had let the matter sit until it came back up on the BOA docket this month.

Residents along Jack Pine Lane objected to the subdivision, and especially to the requirement that new subdivisions must either front a public road or have a 33-foot easement to one.

For homeowner Helen Marsh, the easement would have gone through her living room, even though board members said in reality, the road outside her house wouldn’t have changed.

Marsh maintained her opposition, not wanting any easement recorded on her property giving the Reinharts legal access through it.

The property is in Thorpe Township, which has a zoning ordinance and shares shoreline development responsibilities with the county.

Reinhart said he and his wife could not afford to build on the property if they could not sell off a lot.

“The property is large enough to potentially be subdivided into eight lots,” said a finding from the Hubbard County Environmental Services Office, which recommended denying the request to subdivide without the legal access.

Board member Char Christenson pointed out that in the year Reinhart last appeared, he could have petitioned to Clover Township for a legal access called a cartway. He said he hadn’t gone to the townshop zoning board because his attorney advised him it would be a long drawn out process.

But Marsh pointed out that she had approached her neighbors and obtained a legal easement across their property, which is recorded on her deed.

Board members wondered why Reinhart couldn’t do the same.

In other business, the board:

n Approved a pending request by James and Paula Driessen to reconfigure their Island Lake property to accommodate a proposed new residential structure. A stand of red pines and a bluff presented practical difficulties to the Driessens, BOA member Ken Grob reasoned.

The request stated the residence would not comply with the 100-foot setback.

“The owner balanced the setback as best as he can,” said Grob.

The board approved the request despite the department’s recommendations it be denied because there was still room to move the home back another 10-15 feet.

n Denied a request by Kimberly Kurth and Denise Bramer to convert an existing lakeside deck to a covered, screened-in porch.

Bramer appeared shocked it was denied, particularly when she maintained it would not become a permanent part of the structure.

But board members indicated they would have no such assurances from a subsequent buyer.

The addition extended waterward. Board members reasoned there was ample room on either side of the cabin to place a screened-in porch.

And they pointed out the addition was only 115 feet from Palmer Lake’s shoreline. The lake is classified as an environmental lake, which requires a 150-foot setback under the Shoreland Management Ordinance.

n Approved a request by Randy and Kathy Soldwisch to use a recreational facility as a home until they build new. The couple bought a resort on West Crooked Lake, which the realtor said consisted of a home and five rental cabins.

That was not correct. One of the rentals was designated as a recreational building, not suited for occupancy. Using it as a home exceeded the density allowed for the development.

“It’s always been operating with five cabins,” said board chair Lou Schwindt. “I don’t see why you should be punished for that.”

“It was illegal before,” Christenson pointed out. “It was marketed as a rental. Unfortunately you bought it thinking it was a rental.”

The board approved with the condition that if converted to a PUD or re-sold as a resort, one cabin be designated as non-living space.

n Approved a request by Jean Dalton to slightly enlarge her Long Lake cabin to accommodate her growing family. She asked for more bedroom space and a larger bathroom.

Drainage would be away from the lake, Dalton’s builders told the board.

n Approved a request by Donald and Lisa Anderson to put an addition onto a nonconforming structure located in the shore impact zone of Big and Little Wolf lakes. Lisa Anderson said the couple plans to build up a retaining wall, put vegetation near the shoreline and re-direct additional runoff away from the lake.

They proposed squaring off one lakeside corner of the house and constructing a second story addition over the cabin and attached garage. That would add to the impervious surface of the cabin. But the board reasoned the drainage away from the lake would compensate for additional impervious surface. Lisa Anderson said the couple purchased the property in August and it was suffering from “twenty years of neglect.”

The board stopped short of approving the vegetative buffer, which it has done in the past.

Environmental Services Officer Eric Buitenwerf said, “It’s their property.”

The couple was free to choose their own vegetation, he suggested.

Sarah Smith

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

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