When the Houston County Planning Commission met April 25, a remarkable set of already-issued zoning permits were reviewed.

While only nine permits were issued during the last month, five of them were for new homes. County zoning officials noted that six home permits in a row have recently been sought at their office. During the entire 2012 calendar year, only 11 permits for new homes were issued.

All of last month's new home permits were located in different townships (Houston, Caledonia, Union, Hokah and Mound Prairie). There were four garages, three decks and a porch associated with the homes.

Other zoning permits included a storage room addition, two pole sheds and a garage to replace a structure lost in a fire.

Home CUP approved

Commissioners held a conditional use permit (CUP) hearing for Gordon Meyer of Mayville Township to build a house on less than 40 acres in an agricultural district.

As holder of an enforceable option to buy approximately five acres in Section 4 along CSAH 3, Meyer would be the first to build within the quarter/quarter, Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan explained.

Scanlan said the site qualifies since it has class 4 soils, has over 150 feet of road frontage and meets all setback requirements. Class 1, 2 or 3 soils would have ruled out the venture, since it would be a non-farm dwelling.

"As far as I can see, it would meet all requirements," Scanlan said, "but, there are a couple of things we are waiting on as of yet."

The first is an approved septic plan. Percolation testing has been held up due to frost, Meyer said. The other is approval from the county engineer for a new driveway.

Fifteen criteria were read into the record with no objections from members.

Commissioner Terry Rosendahl then moved to recommend approval with the conditions that both the septic and driveway are allowable at the site. A unanimous vote sent the matter to county commissioners, who will take up the CUP on May 7.

Two variances also approved

Earlier that evening, the Board of Adjustment held two variance hearings.

The first was for Andy Luttchens of Jefferson Township to build a home addition with a variance of 36 feet to meet the required 50-foot setback from a property line.

Scanlan said that Luttchens would build on the back of the home, away from the road frontage. No objections had been raised by either neighbors or the township, he said. An inquiry from MnDOT also brought no opposition.

After six standards were examined, the board voted to grant the variance.

The second hearing was for Matt and Pam Hendel to expand a feedlot in Section 27 of Caledonia Township. In order to do so, a variance of 776 feet would be necessary to meet the required 1,320-foot setback from an existing home.

Scanlan reported that the Hendel operation would expand from 125 to 210 animal units. Some small agricultural buildings would be removed to make way for a freestall barn and two manure basins of less than 20,000 gallons each.

There are two homes within the quarter-mile setback. One would be at a distance of 544 feet, while the other would be 677 feet away.

"The township has no problem with it," Scanlan said. Neither homeowner raised objections either.

After the standards were read, the board voted to allow the variance.

Both variance documents will require signatures of approval from the respective townships. County commissioners do not need to approve variances.