Shoreland ordinance revisions proposed

Hubbard County commissioners discussed potential changes to the shoreland ordinance at the board meeting Tuesday. Changes to the bylaws came from the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission, said Environmental Services Office (ESO) ad...

Hubbard County commissioners discussed potential changes to the shoreland ordinance at the board meeting Tuesday.

Changes to the bylaws came from the unanimous recommendation of the Planning Commission, said Environmental Services Office (ESO) administrator Eric Buitenwerf.

Commissioners decided to postpone setting a public hearing until the Planning Commission could incorporate more changes.

Buitenwerf said the most recent draft of the shoreland ordinance focused on three alterations, per prior directions from the county board.

One revision would allow property owners more liberty to grade and fill an amount of material without a permit or variance.


Other revisions include redefining bluffs and lessening restrictions on lifts, stairways and sidewalks.

On steep slopes and within shore or bluff impact zones, property owners could move up to five cubic yards of material per year without a permit, said Buitenwerf.

Property owners would need a permit to move between five and 10 cubic yards of material and would have to apply for a variance for any greater amount.

Between the shore impact zone and the structure setback line, owners could move up to 10 cubic yards of material per 150 feet of lot width without a permit. Owners could move up to 50 cubic yards per 150 feet of lot width with a permit, or more with a variance.

Owners would not need a permit to grade or fill material outside of structure setback lines, provided they complied with erosion control measures outlined in the ordinance.

Revisions to Section 503 of the ordinance would allow sidewalks and lifts to be built in bluff impact zones if designed by a licensed engineer with a permit.

In-ground stairways, sidewalks and landings could be built without a permit outside bluff impact zones.

Lifts could be constructed with a proper permit following inspection by ESO to examine for erosion damage on any existing paths.


Buitenwerf said the Planning Commission also proposed changing the definition of a bluff to conform with the state definition.

Commissioner Don Carlson asked if the Planning Commission discussed a policy on fire rings.

The Planning Commission did discuss fire rings, but decided not to act, said Buitenwerf. He explained the commission felt a ring of stones would be acceptable without a permit, but a limestone patio or other platform built around a fire ring should be classified as a structure and subject to the ordinance, he explained.

Commissioner Lyle Robinson encouraged other board members to bring additional issues with the ordinance to the Planning Commission for deliberation before the board gives preliminary approval.

Robinson said he would like to eliminate alternatives to a provision requiring the lowest elevation of structures to be a minimum of 36 inches above the highest water mark.

The ordinance currently allows waterproofing as an acceptable alternative, but some structures experience flooding problems due to inadequate waterproofing techniques, Robinson added.

"If you have to be 36 inches above the water line, that's what it should be," he said.

Carlson raised the issue of mixed residential and commercial use on shoreland.


In December, commissioners denied a conditional permit to an applicant seeking to rent a residence on a weekly basis for reasons other than the lack of mixed use zoning.

Carlson said he recently received a similar complaint in his district.

Robinson said a short-term rental provision would be virtually unenforcable.

"Do people who rent walk funny? Fish all the time? How do you spot them?" he asked.

Carlson explained he had no problem with renters, but in the case brought to his attention, the renter once leased his place to a group of 20 people.

"Renting is a problem without an ordinance," he said.

Chair Cal Johannsen said, "I don't know if we can get involved in that. It's too big an issue."

"We are the entity that's supposed to deal with that," said Carlson.


"We have to be a bit careful about sticking our nose into everything," warned commissioner Dick Devine.

"Our nose is already there," Carlson responded.

The primary concern of the ordinance should be noise and water pollution, said Robinson, adding the ordinance cannot control the number of people in a home.

Devine expressed concern about creating an issue too big to handle by including it for review.

Buitenwerf said ESO sent the renter a letter requiring discontinuation of nonspecific use.

"Then I request you do the best you can and handle it," Carlson said.

"That we will do," said Buitenwerf.

Buitenwerf said ESO will also review enforcement notes and bring more possible amendments to the Planning Commission before the board's next review of the ordinance.


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