County board rejects city-township resolution

Hubbard County commissioners voted 3-2 Wednesday to reject a resolution that would have allowed Park Rapids and Henrietta Township to implement planning and zoning in the orderly annexation area.

Hubbard County commissioners voted 3-2 Wednesday to reject a resolution that would have allowed Park Rapids and Henrietta Township to implement planning and zoning in the orderly annexation area.

The decision will have no affect on the orderly annexation agreement, but could add to the cost of establishing zoning in the area.

Commissioners Dick Devine, Lyle Robinson and Don "Doc" Carlson appeared to base their "no" votes in response to a plea from local radio station owners.

Ed and Dave DeLaHunt and Bernie Schumacher asked to be excluded from zoning until the six acres they own is annexed - if it ever is.

Ed DeLaHunt said he is already setting money aside for a court fight and if forced to come under a zoning ordinance sooner, might even relocate the business.


Having to comply with building code and other rules, the family said, would make it impossible for them to add onto their building.

The three commissioners seemed to agree new rules would be detrimental to the DeLaHunts.

After commissioners tabled the planning and zoning resolution May 2, Tim Flathers of the Headwaters Regional Development Commission wrote a memo in an attempt to clarify the county board's role in the process.

Flathers didn't attend the earlier county board meeting in part because the board expressed support for the proposed ordinance amendments in March and because he had been reassured by a commissioner it would be approved.

Since then, the Henrietta Town Board voted to support the planning and zoning ordinance and the city planning commission conducted a public hearing and recommended approval.

The city council also approved a first reading of the proposed ordinance changes.

"If for any reason, the county board chooses to not support the request of the city and township, the county will still not retain zoning and subdivision implementation authority in the affected area," Flathers wrote in the memo addressed to commissioners after the May 2 meeting.

"The orderly annexation agreement specifies that if agreement is not reached on the proposed ordinance, a joint powers board would be created to develop and implement an ordinance. County board approval is not required under this option. Instead, the responsibility of developing and administering the new ordinance would fall on this new entity (the joint powers board), as would the associated cost.


Memo outlines basics

"Both the city and township view this scenario as the least preferred option as it increases cost for both jurisdictions, slows down implementation of the revised regulations and provides no obvious benefit to the public," according to the memo.

Flathers' memo also stated several facts related to the plan.

1) The planning and zoning ordinance would extend to all areas covered in the orderly annexation agreement once it was approved, not as areas are annexed.

2) County board approval was required in order to exclude the affected area from its zoning and subdivision regulations. Since there is no countywide zoning, the authority being excluded would be limited to the county's subdivision and sanitation ordinances.

3) After county approval, the ordinance would go into effect once the city council affirmed the ordinance again and it is published.

The facts and logic Flathers outlined were lost on the three commissioners as they listened to the DeLaHunts Wednesday. In fact, it appeared they hadn't read Flathers' memo at all.

"Some of this stuff is 10 years down the road," commented Robinson.


"The more I look at it, the more I feel you're in the county. We should be keeping our zoning intact until you're in the city or on a case by case basis," he said.

"We don't have zoning," said commissioner Greg Larson, pointing out the board was only talking about suspending its subdivision and septic ordinances.

Further, Larson pointed out, people in the affected area had an opportunity at the public hearing to air their views.

DeLaHunts didn't attend the public hearing on the planning and zoning ordinance in April. They attended a public information meeting on the orderly annexation agreement in June 2006. The township and city approved the paperwork later last summer.

Ed DeLaHunt claimed that at the June meeting, 50 or 60 people said they were against the annexation plan, but the township adopted it anyway.

Now, he said extending zoning to property before it is annexed is "heavy-handed."

"People should be able to control their own destiny," Ed DeLaHunt said. "And it's twice as wrong if they're extending zoning prior to annexation."

Further, he said, the family didn't attend the city planning commission's public hearing because they would be told "that's the way it's going to be. Here there's an opportunity for open minds," he told commissioners.


Robinson decided the question before the board was whether the county relinquishes responsibility for zoning immediately or when property is annexed.

City, township's rationale

Mayor Nancy Carroll attempted to clarify the confusion.

She explained the city and township have been working together for two yeas because they realize their future is together. There had been piecemeal annexation along Highway 34 and other areas in the township and it made sense to work together to look at a long-range plan, she said.

"Along the way, the city and township have developed a good working relationship and although there were differences, they came up with an agreement," Carroll said.

One reason to begin to enforce zoning right away for the entire area was so people would have one place to go for permits, she explained. Carroll also pointed out the rules for septic systems will remain the same as they are now. "We all follow the same state statutes," she said.

"We feel as elected officials this is a good agreement and we need the county to approve the last piece," she added.

"What happens if a property isn't annexed in 2017? Is it a done deal?" asked board chairman Cal Johannsen.


Any changes would have to be jointly discussed by the city and township, Carroll replied.

DeLaHunt launched a tirade against the city, citing a litany of complaints until council member Clyde Zirkle asked to speak.

Zirkle said the agreement was worked out between the city and township because they were looking to the future. "To put infrastructure in, you have to plan ahead," Zirkle said. The city is putting up a watertower on the east side because it's an area "we know is going to grow. The county should look at it the same way. You have to plan for the future."

That's a lesson, he said, the county should have learned when it built a new jail 20 years ago (that has now been replaced).

Devine asked why the county's ordinances aren't adequate.

City planner Mike Strodtman said one concern is lot size. When sewer and water are brought into an area, if lots are large, the property owners won't be able to afford the assessments. "This is set up so the assessments will be fair," Strodtman said.

He also said state building codes would apply, such as requirements for sprinklers in large buildings. State code addresses health and safety issues, Strodtman pointed out.

"Would you make them put them in?" asked Robinson.


Strodtman explained existing buildings would be grandfathered-in, that sprinkler systems would only be required if the owner added on or made certain other changes. The city's building inspector makes those decisions, he explained.

DeLaHunts disclosed they have plans to add onto their station.

"They have overextended their reach," Dave DeLaHunt said. "They are now restricting my ability as a business to plan into the future."

He said the annexation agreement was reached over their objections and may never reach their property, but if it does, they expected zoning would follow. "But to immediately get slammed into it, you would have no control over it," Dave DeLaHunt said.

"They extended it (annexation) to stick it to yours truly," said Ed DeLaHunt, borrowing a map and holding it up for commissioners to see.

"If we build an addition, we can't afford to have a sprinkler system," he said, adding water would ruin computers and other equipment.

Planning isn't necessary

"Don't give them any more authority than they have," Ed DeLaHunt told commissioners. "If future growth comes along, let it happen then."

"They have tied our hands," Schumacher continued. "We can't pick up our towers and move them," she said.

"I have no dog in this fight. The fight has been fought," said Carlson, insisting he is not against zoning.

"It could be changed," said Ed DeLaHunt. "It's not cast in granite. If there's a new township board, it could change."

City and township officials restated the agreement can be changed by mutual agreement.

"I don't know why they asked us," said Devine.

"They wouldn't be here if you didn't have control," said Ed DeLaHunt.

Carroll repeated what was stated in Flathers' memo, that state law requires the county to exclude the affected area from its zoning regulations, in this case, basically, the subdivision ordinance.

"Is it mainly the timing?" Carlson asked DeLaHunts.

Schumacher said they have bids and plans and need more time.

"Is there any possibility of making changes to accommodate the DeLaHunts?" Carlson asked.

"Any rule you pass affects someone in a bad way," Zirkle replied. "The opposition you hear is 95 percent of the opposition we've heard. We have worked hard on this at 25 to 30 meetings. The township has worked for their constituents. We came to this agreement and we're there. We voted, stuck our necks out and now it's time to approve it."

Both Schumacher and Art Wood told commissioners the township never notified them of what was going on. Wood said people in his neighborhood are not happy about the plan.

"I favor zoning to some degree, but I would like to see you be able to do it and the city and township give special consideration to the DeLaHunts," Carlson said.

"You've given a lot to this community," Carlson said of the family.

Ed DeLaHunt said it would cost him a quarter of a million dollars to move a tower out of Henrietta Township, but he would do it if he is forced to comply with the new rules. "It's just crazy. Let us out of it. We want to stay in Henrietta Township," he said.

"We have no authority to adjust the annexation boundaries," Robinson observed.

"I'm suggesting you get together and make a special little provision in there," said Carlson.

Larson moved to adopt the resolution as presented. Robinson seconded the motion.

"I don't think what's happening is fair," said Devine. "There should have been an accommodation (for the DeLaHunts)."

"What you say makes sense. You should have said that before," said Robinson, withdrawing his second. "We have to rely on those whose constituents are involved."

Johannsen reminded that previously commissioners and Flathers had worked out an agreement regarding the county's transfer station, which doesn't fit in with Henrietta Township's zoning now, but would under the new ordinance.

"We did work with you," Zirkle agreed.

"Work with the DeLaHunts," Robinson ordered.

Carroll suggested the DeLaHunts could talk to the city's building official about how the ordinance might affect their plans, but their property is part of the agreement.

"That is why we worked on orderly annexation, so it isn't piecemeal," she said. "We were looking out for the best interests of the public."

"I hope there could be an agreement to give the DeLaHunts a little time," said Carlson.

After further discussion, with DeLaHunt bashing township officials, Johannsen seconded Larson's motion.

When it came time to vote, Larson and Johannsen voted in support of the resolution, but it failed.

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