Council approves first reading of ‘shouse’ ordinance

Updated zoning language will regulate "accessory structures incidental to a dwelling" – in other words, sheds combined with houses.

Community development specialist Ryan Zemek tells the Park Rapids City Council on May 24, 2022 about the strategic planning process by which the Park Rapids Arts and Culture Advisory Commission prepared its first master plan update since 2017.
Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

The Park Rapids City Council on May 24 approved the first reading of a zoning ordinance amendment.

City Planner Ben Oleson said the proposed change, in part, regulates “shouses,” or combined sheds and houses, as well as other accessory structures. The term actually used in the ordinance is “accessory structure incidental to a dwelling.”

For example, the ordinance requires a CUP for shouses larger than 3,000 square feet, a minimum roof pitch less than 6/12, or attached sheds exceeding 75% of the combined footprint of the shed and dwelling.

It also requires shouses where the accessory structure exceeds 60% of the total footprint to have an egress window every 15 feet of each wall, a consistent appearance in keeping with a residential area and roof eaves extending 18 inches from the two longest walls and 12 inches from the other walls.

The amended ordinance also provides standards for sheds in business and industrial districts and requires single-family dwellings to have a main-floor area of at least 800 square feet and a minimum roof pitch of 6/12, not including park models.


Council members pointed out an error in the ordinance language that City Administrator Angel Weasner said will be corrected for the ordinance’s second reading.

Council member Erika Randall made the motion to approve the first reading of the ordinance, and it passed unanimously.

Further business

In consent items and general business, the council:

  • Approved easements from Terence Ohlgren, Dolores Yoder, Mid-Sota Enterprises LLC and Park Rapids Forest Products, Inc. for road, drainage and utility work on Fair Avenue.
  • Approved a front property line setback variance for a high school addition at 401 Huntsinger Ave., replacing the Frank White Education Center. According to Oleson, the variance is needed to allow the addition to extend 5-35 feet into the required 35-foot setback from the street right-of-way, in order to make room for parking areas to the south and southwest of the building.
  • Approved an update of the city’s Arts and Culture Master Plan, prepared by the Park Rapids Arts and Culture Advisory Commission with financial support from the Region 2 Arts Council.
  • Paid Apex Engineering $12,680 for work on the Fair Avenue project.
  • Paid F.I.R.E. $1,800 for a high-angle rescue class held on May 18, with reimbursement to be requested from the Minnesota Board of Firefighter Training and Education.
  • Paid Flaherty & Hood, P.A. $4,790 for legal services on general municipal matters ($2,240) and real estate matters, specifically Fair Avenue easements ($2,550).
  • Paid Girtz Implement and Tire $3,264 for five I-Gator tires ($523 each), three Firestone tubes ($83 each) and two in-shop mounts ($200 each)..
  • Paid Tyler Technologies $10,903 for services relating to replacing the city’s accounting software.
  • Paid John’s Body Shop LLC $8,024 for repair of a 2020 Ford Police Interceptor, to be submitted for insurance reimbursement minus a $500 deductible.
  • Updated the job description for a police secretary/evidence technician position, and gave Kris Cook a salary increase for the position to $29.67 per hour, retroactive to April 1. According to the request for council action in the agenda packet, evidence technician job duties have been added to the position, as well as duties regarding forfeitures and Federal and State reporting.
  • Authorized the disposal of surplus city property, specifically wooden tables and a wooden rocking chair from the public library that have fallen into disrepair.
  • Acknowledged donations to the city May 9-17 totaling $2,374, mostly designated for the public library.
  • Approved payables totaling $78,949 and prepaids totaling $131,943.

The city council’s next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 14 at city hall.

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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