The Houston County Board of Adjustment (BOA) granted two variances on Sept. 27, neither of which sparked any debate.

Daniel and Laurie Nekola of Mound Prairie Township sought a variance of 27 feet, 6 inches to meet a required 50-ft. setback from the west property line of their lot to build a garage.

The second hearing was for Chester Doering of Mayville Township, who sought a variance of 859 feet to meet the required 1,320-ft. setback from an existing house to expand a feedlot.

Commissioners confirmed that no neighbors or the affected townships had raised any objections to the changes before moving to grant the requests. In both cases, the criteria were reviewed without any difficulties cropping up.

Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan described the Nekola's case as "pretty straightforward." The lot has been recently surveyed, he reported.

Doering's steer feeding facility will eventually expand from 90 animal units to 250 (around 500 head of all sizes up to about 500 pounds). It will require a 16 ft. by 160 ft. addition to an existing building, with another 106 ft. by 54 ft. structure slated for future development, Scanlan said.

CUP recommended for approval

The Planning Commission convened after the BOA adjourned. That board held a conditional use and a re-zone hearings.

The CUP (conditional use permit) was recommended to the Houston County Board of Supervisors for approval with one condition added over the standard fare.

Joel Serres and Kathy Hafner applied to build a house in Brownsville Township in an agricultural district on less than 40 acres.

Scanlan said that he was selling 1.17 acres to Serres for the project, and had un-registered a feedlot to make the site buildable.

When the new house goes up, a trailer home nearby will be removed, resulting in only one home on the 40-acre site that the lot sits on.

"It has been surveyed," Scanlan reported. "The septic design and soil test are complete, and it will be a mound system. An erosion control plan has been completed and reviewed. The one note the conservation office made was that the (new) driveway needs to be built at a 12 percent slope or less."

Setbacks from the property line can be met, he added.

The commission voted to allow the CUP with the standard stipulations that all federal and state ordinances will apply, but added one additional condition.

Serres was directed to work with the soil conservation service to make sure the driveway slope meets the 12 percent requirement.

Rezoning request approved

A zoning amendment hearing for Larry Hanson of Yucatan Township came next.

Hanson originally applied to rezone some agricultural land to residential so he could build a home on the 2.5-acre parcel in 2004. It was denied because a FEMA map placed the site within a floodplain.

Since then, Hanson has worked with MnDNR staff to refine the elevation at the site, Scanlan reported.

Using the latest LIDAR (light detection and ranging) maps, the area where the house would go was found to be nine feet above floodplain.

Hanson said a pole building will be torn down to make room for a stick-built house.

Commissioners noted that the lot is within two miles of the Village of Rushford (not the city of Rushford). Houston County has traditionally allowed residential rezones (subdivisions) within a two-mile radius of cities, even though there is no statute on the books that codifies that rule, Chairman Charlie Wieser stated.

"We need more agricultural zones so we wouldn't have to constantly go through this procedure," he noted.

"The criteria says that (re-zones) 'shall be used only as a means to reflect changes in the goals and policies of the community as reflected by the land-use plan.' It contradicts what we're doing. That's the reason we need to change some of our ag districts."

In spite of Wieser's concerns over the wording of the criteria, commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval by the county board.

The county board will consider both the re-zone and CUP on Oct. 9. Variances are not subject to review by county commissioners.

Sand pit permit not renewed

Scanlan reported that Jeff Lind has decided not to renew his CUP for mineral extraction and land alteration, stating, "He used it (a sand pit) off and on for construction projects in the area over the years. He's sold enough sand and decided not to sell any more."

The permit was on a five-year renewal. Lind has already closed the pit. "He has started reclaiming it, leveling it off and seeding it down," Scanlan added.

Oct. meeting moved up

The Planning Commission will meet sooner than usual this month so that a CUP for a road construction project in Perkins Valley can be considered on Oct. 11.

Fill material from a neighboring property is being sought by the contractor for a bridge reconstruction. A cabin permit has already gone on the agenda as well.