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New law allows county zoning to review land transfers, subdivisions

Hubbard County now has the authority to deny the recording of documents that create illegal subdivisions or inaccurate land transfers.

"It doesn't happen often, but it does happen a few times per year," said Eric Buitenwerf, Hubbard County environmental services officer (ESO).

A new Minnesota Statute (272.162) gives counties the same authority already afforded to municipalities and townships to review land transfers and divisions before they are recorded.

Buitenwerf informed the Hubbard County Board of the new legislation at last week's meeting.

Previously, county recorders were required to record a document that create an illegal subdivision if the document was in a recordable format.

"This put the recording process at odds with the subdivision ordinance," he said. "It also made it very difficult for us to effectively resolve the subdivision violations created by a document being recorded."

County Recorder Nicole Lueth said her office has been informing the public about ordinance regulations.

"We just didn't have the teeth to enforce it," she said.

The new legislation authorizes the county to review a deed or other instrument of land transfer before it is recorded, ensuring conformity with the county's land use regulations. Cases of improper property splits or non-conforming land uses will be re-routed through the ESO office for compliance, Buitenwerf explained.

According to the Association of Minnesota Counties, "With this authority, counties can protect landowners from land transfer and division missteps which block property owners from using their land as they intended. County oversight will prevent future boundary disputes and ensure

that landowners are compliant with other land use rules and regulations."

CUP for Laestadian Lutheran Church

As recommended by the planning commission, the Hubbard County Board approved a conditional use application (CUP) from the Laestadian Lutheran Church to operate its year-round camp on Big Stony Lake.

The youth camp has been occurring since roughly the 1970s "and the applicant is willing to bring the camp use into a conforming status by applying for a CUP," said Buitenwerf, noting that their application was "fairly exhaustive," "detailed" and "well within allowed dwelling unit density."

Located on the north shore of Big Stony, the church property covers 78.84 acres. Six units currently exist where the ordinance allows 14. The camp's expansion plans include two new bunkhouses and a bathhouse. Maximum occupancy is currently 100 beds. The proposed expansion would bring that number to 160. No watercraft usage exists or is planned.

Construction will begin next spring. Remodeling of the main structure's interior is slated for this fall and will carry through the winter.

Two of the property's four septic systems are non-compliant. New designs to upgrade the failing systems have been submitted to the ESO office and are in the process of being reviewed, according to Buitenwerf.

The county planning commission recommended approval along with these five conditions:

• The CUP is for the entire premises as one church camp; therefore, if the property is subdivided, a new CUP would be necessary;

• 50 percent of the shore impact zone on the property must be preserved in its natural state

• Access to the property will only be via an existing driveway

• Nor motorized watercraft are allowed to be beached or moored on lifts or buoys;

• The shoreline is limited to having two docks.

County Commissioner Cal Johannsen made a motion to approve the CUP, but remove the fourth and fifth conditions.

"They're way more restrictive than what the ordinance calls for," he said, adding it would treat the church camp "differently than anybody else on the lake."

The church property has 2,000 feet of lakeshore compared to other lots with 150 feet, Johannsen said.

The motion passed unanimously.

In other business, the county board did the following:

• Approved a two-year Crime Victim Services Prosecutorial Grant in the amount of $92,000, with a $17,733 match. The grant period is Oct. 1, 2017 through Sept. 30, 2019.

• Appointed County Attorney Jonathan Frieden, County Sheriff Corey Aukes, Social Services Director Debbie Vizecky and County Coordinator Debbie Thompson as the county's "Responsible Authorities" for collection, storage, use and dissemination of county data.

• Authorized Thompson to notify the Northwest Service Coop of the county's discontinuation of services, effective Jan. 1, 2018.

• Approved the re-purchase of a Hendrickson Township tax-forfeited parcel by Joan Molash and re-purchase of a Hart Lake Township tax-forfeited parcel by Jonathan and Stephanie Johnson, as recommended by County Auditor/Treasurer Kay Rave.

• Accepted the resignations of dispatcher/jailers Sherri Klasen, Cheryl Genoch and Pam Hodgden.

• Accepted the resignations of Jessica Pinnella and Paula Peterson and the refilling of their family based service provider and social worker positions, respectively.

• Approved a 2017 Emergency Management Performance Grant, totaling $21,627, from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

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