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Clancys withdraw variance requests; violations remain 'open issue'

Vacationaire Resort withdrew their after-the-fact variance request for a 4,040-square-foot vehicle parking lot and a second variance request to add another 3,000-square-foot parking lot between existing blacktop and a new motel.

Owners Tim and Nikki Clancy appeared before the Hubbard County Board of Adjustment on Monday. Initially, they asked the board to table their variance until the spring of 2019 or when the existing snow cover is gone.

Their shoreland ordinance violations are yet unresolved, however.

Illegal parking lot

In June, the Clancys violated the county shoreland management ordinance by removing trees, grading a buffer bump and dumping approximately 4 cubic yards of class V gravel within the 100-foot setback area on Island Lake and within the 10-foot setback from their side lot line. The new parking lot also caused the property to exceed the 25 percent impervious surface area threshold.

In July, the Hubbard County Environmental Services Office (ESO) recommended denying both parts of the Clancys' application, but the Hubbard County Board of Adjustment (BOA) tabled the variance requests to give the Clancys time to submit a revised application with a stormwater management plan prepared by a licensed, professional engineer; an amended variance showing all proposed vehicle parking areas complying with the required setbacks; a vehicle parking plan for the entire property; a written snow removal plan and a vegetation restoration plan for the illegally installed parking area.

As part of the motion to table the variance, the BOA also placed two conditions on the Clancys: All current shoreland management ordinance violations had to be corrected to the ESO's satisfaction and the sediment from the illegally constructed vehicle parking lot deposited on the neighboring property to the north had to be cleaned up.

A July 26 letter from Buitenwerf to the Clancys stated that if they did not submit an updated application by Nov. 19, the original application would be placed on the Dec. 17 BOA agenda for action.

In a Nov. 14 email, the Clancys asked that the variance be tabled for a second time.

Buitenwerf replied via letter on Nov. 15, reminding them of the Nov. 19 deadline. He noted that he sent emails to them on Aug. 27, Aug. 30 and Oct. 22 inquiring when they intended to submit their amended variance application.

"I have not received the requested update or any information regarding where you are at in providing the BOA's specified items. Also, the revegetation of the illegal parking area remains outstanding despite there having been ample time since the July BOA meeting to bring this area into satisfactory compliance and my department's repeated site visit compliance checks and communications to you regarding the area's status," Buitenwerf wrote.

He stated he did not find the Clancys' Nov. 14 email "a valid request/explanation as to why you need more time to work on providing the BOA's specified items or complying with its conditions."

Clancys disagree with calculations

At Monday's meeting, Nikki asked how their lot size was figured.

Buitenwerf said, "For purposes of the impervious surface calculation, the lot size is calculated by the GIS tax parcel map."

Buitenwerf further explained in his Nov. 15 letter that the ESO calculates a lot's impervious surface area based on the information they collect from onsite measurements. In the Clancy's case, their parcel area is 124,541 square feet.

Nikki challenged that figure, saying she determined their 4.89-acre lot is 213,008 square feet.

"We wouldn't need any variances, and we're dropping the after-the-fact variance," she concluded.

Buitenwerf said the "4.89 acres" listed under "tax acres" has nothing to do with the GIS calculation. "That is a field that is old data from the assessor's office that they do not ever claim is accurate," he said, adding if a property owner disagrees with that number and provides a certificate of survey from a licensed land surveyor, then the assessor's office will change it.

Nikki said resolving that issue would be another reason to table the variance.

She also took issue with the ESO's calculations that a county road access driveway is 3,120 square feet.

"I'm not agreeing with that," she said. "It's not a driveway. There's no impervious surface whatsoever. It's a cart pathway, but it's all drainfield back there. We can't drive on it. We can't park on it. There are vehicles parked on there, but it's not an access for any of our customers."

Buitenwerf's letter also addressed this issue, stating the access driveway "is devoid of vegetation and shows evidence of vehicular use. Assistant ESO Director Bryan Haugen took photos during his Nov. 9 site visit at which you were present showing vehicle tracks other than those of a golf cart in the fresh snow on the driveway."

An employee's vehicle and boat were parked on the drainfield, the letter continues, and "the only way for this vehicle to reach this parking destination is to use this driveway." The Clancys also stated during the site visit that they drive a golf cart over the driveway. For these reasons, the ESO determined that the area is impervious surface.

Finally, Nikki disagreed with county's tabulations for the proposed motel parking area. "He's got 7,830 square feet. I have 5,930 square feet," she said.

Restoration incomplete

"You had four-and-a-half months to address five issues and a couple of action items. Why did you wait until tonight?" asked BOA member Ken Grob.

"Because Eric just proposed these numbers to us," Nikki replied, "especially that back access. We've had a busy season. Our motel just got done Nov. 1, and so there were a lot of things going on."

"Impervious surface is much less important than dealing with fixing up the area where you expanded your parking lot," Grob said.

In the spring, Nikki said they will remove more of the illegal class V gravel, add more black dirt and reseed grass.

"What are you doing about restoring any of the trees?" Grob asked.

"There were only six trees taken down and two of them were within the 100-foot shoreline," she replied. "We weren't in any violation in taking down trees. And we're putting up a rock wall along the sides."

Grob asked about their stormwater management plan, snow removal plan, etc.

"If we've taken out our application, then why is it necessary to have all those things done?" Nikki asked. "We'll withdraw because we still think we're under 25 percent (impervious surfaces)."

Buitenwerf noted the 15-day period to appeal the ESO's administrative decision about the impervious surface area had passed, "so that's not able to be argued at this point. Whether the Clancys agree or don't, that's the figure we'll use to figure any impervious surface violations."

On Monday, the Clancys signed a statement indicating they were withdrawing both variances.

BOA member Tim Johnson inquired whether property owners should be allowed to come in with new information and withdraw a variance "to prolong a violation."

BOA Board Chair Tom Krueger said the Clancys still must comply with the shoreland ordinance and correct any violations.

Nikki claimed that most of the violations had been corrected and there are no other ones.

Grob suggested that the Clancys state they will bring the parking lot into compliance "because I'm not hearing any commitment to that — just that they'll watch the grass grow in the spring."

"The violation on the property is a separate matter that our department will work on," Buitenwerf said.

After the meeting, Buitenwerf clarified that "revegetation/restoration of the non-permitted parking area created north of the restaurant earlier this year remains an open issue."