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Dispute over density and docks

Faced with a second revision to its zoning ordinance in as many years, the Becker County Board has called a special meeting for Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 8:15 a.m.

The purpose of the meeting will be to consider a series of seven proposed amendments to the county zoning ordinance. The amendments were recommended for approval at an Aug. 21 meeting of the County Planning and Zoning Commission.

The commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to table the proposed amendments, then called a special meeting for the express purpose of reviewing them.

The decision to table consideration of the zoning amendments came after a lengthy discussion of the first item on the list --revisions to Section 7A of the ordinance, pertaining to shoreland multi-unit residential developments.

Board Chairman Barry Nelson, who also sits on the zoning ordinance review committee, said that he was concerned the proposed amendments to this section of the ordinance "is not addressing what I feel is the biggest problem."

Specifically, Nelson said, he felt the proposed amendments failed to address the issue of density. As he had already pointed out at the planning and zoning meeting, several lengthy discussions by the committee on the issues of density and docking had failed to produce a consensus on the issue.

He then proposed that the ordinance be amended to include a maximum lot size of 8,000 square feet "across the board," but the proposal was not brought to a vote at the meeting.

Rather, Commissioner Harry Salminen, seconded by Commissioner Karen Mulari, made a motion to table the proposal.

"I would like to get it (the ordinance) right this time," Salminen noted, referring to the fact that the ordinance was being revised for the second time in two years.

Zoning Administrator Patty Johnson then proposed that the commissioners simply table a decision on all the proposed amendments until their next regular meeting.

Salminen, however, expressed the wish for a more in-depth discussion of the matter, and County Administrator Brian Berg asked if the board was interested in holding a "workshop" with Johnson in order to familiarize itself with the amendments and issues at hand.

This discussion led to a proposal for the special meeting, which was approved by board vote.

In other zoning matters, the board:

n Approved the final plat for Top Brass Estates, a 12-unit development on Little Toad Lake, based on the fact that all the stipulations of the conditional use permit have been met.

n Approved a request for a change of zone from agricultural to residential and approval of a certificate of survey for two tracts of land in Osage Township owned by Kathy and Troy Ferguson. The purpose of the change, as stated in the application, would be to subdivide the property into two tracts for Kathy Ferguson's two grown children. Both lots meet the size requirements of the zoning ordinance.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454