County delay decision on ordinance changes - again

Hubbard County commissioners postponed approving changes to the subdivision and shoreland ordinances Wednesday to schedule an additional work session, although public hearings have already been held.

Hubbard County commissioners postponed approving changes to the subdivision and shoreland ordinances Wednesday to schedule an additional work session, although public hearings have already been held.

"Some people were told that we were going to be doing some tweaking, and then there are some major changes," said commissioner Lyle Robinson.

Environmental Services officer Eric Buitenwerf, with direction from the county board and planning commission, has been "cleaning up" ordinance language and other issues, like those that overlap both ordinances.

The commissioners have expressed concern some modifications are more significant than previously planned, and that the public should be made aware.

"We started this just to clean up some language and we changed some things, like going from 25 to 20 (maximum allowable impervious surface in the shoreland ordinance)," said commissioner Cal Johannsen.


Robinson asked Buitenwerf if he could compile a list of all lots in the county that would be considered nonconforming after the implementation of the new impervious surface allowance.

Buitenwerf said he could, but would be back to the board "in about a year." He also explained that the state is recommending a maximum impervious surface of 12 percent or less, because anything over may be "detrimental."

"There probably isn't anyone who has more ownership in this ordinance than myself, being here the longest," said Robinson.

The work session is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday, July 29 at the courthouse. Public input will not be taken, according to board chairman Floyd Frank.

Work sessions for the subdivision ordinance were held in January and April, with a public hearing in April. A shoreland ordinance work session was held in April and a public hearing in May. The planning commission recommended the changes in both ordinances for approval in March.

In other business Wednesday, the commissioners:

  • Discussed a May 23 timber auction with land commissioner Bob Hoffman.

At the auction, aspen mixed sold for an average price of $60.20 per cord, and jack pine mixed went for $68.66 per cord. The total for all sales was $647,878.
"Are we setting a precedent that's too high for private sale?" Johannsen asked Hoffman.

"Nothing went for the appraised price; everything was bid on," said Hoffman, who explained jack pine is going for more than the state average. "We have never had a sale that has not sold for years, and I don't see that happening."


  • Approved approximately $14,300 from the parks and recreation budget for a new tin roof for the Heartland Park restrooms and a new beach retaining wall. Construction on the retaining wall will begin this fall.
  • Heard from Heritage Living Center administrator Kurt Hansen, who gave an update and added the nursing home was celebrating its 50th anniversary that afternoon.

"We have been able to maintain 97 percent occupancy," Hansen told the commissioners.
He said the home has been keeping two to five beds open for Medicare utilization and it "has been working well. We have a lot of patients we have been seeing under Medicare coverage."

With all the programs the facility offers, including the home, Park Villa Apartments (low-income for seniors), Heritage Manor Apartments (assisted living) and Heritage Adult Day Services, it serves about 146 people per day. "We're still touching as many lives as we were, just in a different way," Hansen said.

Financially, Hansen explained, "It appears as though we are on pace to break even. If you can break even as an entity, you are doing pretty well."

Heritage will also be receiving a small daily rate adjustment for pay distribution to staff, the first in three years, he said.

  • Set a work session for 3:30 p.m. Monday, June 26 to discuss emergency management.
  • Approved an off-sale license application for Potato Lake Lodge and Cowboys and Chrome Saloon. The board approved a peddler's license application for Southwestern Books Retail and a temporary beer license application for the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce as well.
  • Heard a Hubbard County Senior Nutrition report from commissioner Dick Devine, who called the program "a disaster."

"I just don't understand this whole operation," he said.
The board discussed how Lutheran Social Services (LSS) has been losing money.

"In defense of LSS, the state has cut the funding in the past couple years," said Devine.

"The reason they're losing money is LSS has a management fee the county never had," said Robinson.

"It's going downhill," Devine said of the program. "These people, they've gone to the well so many times. No matter how much you give them, they are going to go to the well and want more."


Frank agreed.

"Every time you turn around, each site is losing money," he said. "Dick and I have tried every avenue we could."

"These site managers are doing a good job with what they could," said Devine.

  • Set a $55 housing fee for out-of-county inmates at the Law Enforcement Center.

"We've had as many as 12 from Cass County," said jail administrator Sherri Klasen.

  • Became acquainted with Dave Collins, the new head of the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Authority.

Collins moved to Park Rapids from Clear Lake, IA. His resumé includes experience as a deputy county clerk, work in a political party and with various chambers of commerce throughout the country. Collins has dealt with many aspects of economic development, such as bringing in factories, restaurants and wind turbines to communities and revitalizing downtowns.

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