Commissioners table city-Henrietta zoning plan

At the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday, commissioners showed what they don't know can hurt progress. Commissioners tabled a motion to extend Park Rapids' zoning ordinance jurisdiction to annexed land in Henrietta Township....

At the Hubbard County Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday, commissioners showed what they don't know can hurt progress.

Commissioners tabled a motion to extend Park Rapids' zoning ordinance jurisdiction to annexed land in Henrietta Township.

Last summer, Park Rapids and Henrietta Township signed off on an orderly annexation agreement, which will phase parts of the township into the city in 2007, 2009, 2012 and 2017.

County coordinator Jack Paul reminded the board of their direction to Tim Flathers March 21 to hold a public hearing on the issue.

The Park Rapids Planning Commission held the required public hearing April 23. Henrietta Township approved the amended zoning ordinance earlier and the Park Rapids Council approved the changes April 24. During months of discussion by the city-township joint zoning committee, the intent was to implement changes before the start of the construction season.


By state statute, the county's role is to sign off on the zoning portion of the city-township agreement.

Chairman Cal Johannsen said he told Flathers it would not be necessary to show up for Wednesday's board meeting if the public hearing and county interests were in order. Flathers assured him it was taken care of, Johannsen said.

Commissioner Greg Larson inquired whether the resolution would immediately exclude the areas in question from zoning and subdivisions. Municipalities are already excluded, he added.

The city is ready to start developing some of the annexed area, responded Johannsen, and in order to do so, county ordinances must be dropped.

"This is to clear up some of the ambiguity," said Paul.

"Isn't there certain steps the city has to take?" asked commissioner Robinson. "Are we just going to pass a blanket resolution and send out mailings saying to people they are under city laws when they aren't?"

Johannsen said he assumed the city's ordinances would be more restrictive.

"No, no they're not," said Robinson. He said the city allows more residences per acre.


"In some ways, they are much more so (restrictive)," said commissioner Dick Devine.

Devine then raised questions about the legitimacy of the city's public hearing.

"Where I live, I know a lot of my neighbors had concerns over this whole business of zoning, and how it's going to change over this 10-year period."

Devine asked if there were any objections raised at the public hearing. "We're supposed to be representing these people," he said. "If a person has a real objection to it, they have a right to be heard."

Larson inquired whether the resolution would have the city's zoning enforced immediately after the county gave up jurisdiction.

"Our resolution would be to drop our ordinances once the city picked them up," said Robinson, which would assure total zoning coverage of the area over time. "There's no in-between," he said.

"I guess maybe we need to know more," Johannsen said.

Paul said he interpreted the resolution as waiving ordinances for up to a decade.


County attorney Don Dearstyne said when he read the information, he had the same questions.

Devine wondered whether the city sent notices to the people in question about the hearing.

"I could see all these people coming back to the county when it's all over, and nobody got any input," he added.

"There's no reason if something is taking place in 2017 that we have to rush through this in two minutes," Robinson said. "We should be able to leave here and be able to defend every aspect of it."

Environmental Services Office administrator Eric Buitenwerf confirmed via speakerphone the city would take over zoning jurisdiction of the entire proposed area once an agreement was reached. The county needed to agree to give up control of the area, he said.

Buitenwerf said he did not attend the public hearings and could not give input on any comments raised there.

Devine moved to table the issue. "I need to hear if people were notified and if anyone had any objections," he said.

The resolution passed unanimously.


After receiving the public hearing minutes in the afternoon session, commissioners decided to review the information for the next meeting.

In other action Wednesday, commissioners:

??Created a committee to permanently resolve sheriff Gary Mills' stipend.

The committee, consisting of Johannsen, Mills, Larson, Dearstyne and county auditor-treasurer Pam Heeren, will meet to discuss the Attorney General's opinion and formulate a plan for future resolution.

??Approved filling permanent social service positions for one resigning and one deceased staff member.

Bonnie James died last weekend, shortly after going on medical leave, said social services director Daryl Bessler.

"It was a bit of a shock," he admitted.

??Received a report on the use of pandemic planning grant funds.


Paul said part of the funds provided for a new laptop. Some of the purchased equipment will be stored in the courthouse, he added.

??Accepted a bid for auctioneering from North Country Auction of Park Rapids, the lowest bidder.

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