Meeker County planning, zoning fees may increase

November 12, 2007

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

Meeker County Board of Commissioners set a public hearing for the county’s proposed 2008 fee schedule at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6 at the courthouse in Litchfield.

The county commissioners noted Tuesday that most of the fees, such as for faxes or liquor licenses, will be the same as they were in 2007. However, the fees related to county planning and zoning will increase significantly.

For example, calling a special meeting of the planning commission to hear an application for conditional use permits increased to $1,500 from $1,000. Calling a special meeting of board of adjustments to hear applications for variances increased to $800, from $600.

Also, a $500 fee will be charged in 2008, instead of $300 in 2007, if a sewage-related project is started before the owner applies for a permit.

A plat hearing will be $600, instead of $500.

A $700 fee will be charged in 2008, instead of $600, if an owner starts a project before applying for a conditional use permit, or a variance is authorized by a board of adjustment.

An $800 fee will be charged, instead of a $700 fee, if an appeal is made to the board of adjustment that an error was made in the interpretation or enforcement of a zoning ordinance.

A rezoning application increases to $500 in 2008, instead of $400.

Fees that increased by $50 in 2008 are those related to sewage, permits for conditional uses, and variance applications.

Turning to other matters, County Administrator Paul Virnig said he has heard pollution control officials are considering making the pumping of septic tanks mandatory every three years. He asked how this rule could be enforced on the 4,000 septic systems in Meeker County.

Not only would enforcement be almost impossible, pointed out Commissioner Amy Wilde, but also she asked whether the county would have the capacity to pump so many systems and dispose of the contents.

John Boe, planning and zoning administrator, said he believes the problem is the extra waste from garbage disposals in kitchen sinks. They create vegetable matter that doesn’t decay as quickly as other wastes, he said.

Boe also said he thought the contractors who do the pumping will notify the county of whose systems they pump, and the county’s computers will be able to track who has not had their septic system pumped within three years.

Enforcement of septic tank pumping probably will be another requirement county taxpayers will end up funding, Wilde said.

Commissioners agreed they hoped septic system pumping won’t be made mandatory. Commissioner Dave Gabrielson said, however, it is to the property owner’s advantage to keep septic tanks pumped on a regular basis. He does his once a year, he said.

Odds and ends

In other business, the county board:

• approved the application for a final plat for Whispering Pines near Dassel. The three-lot housing development near Spring Lake is owned by Paul E. Huseby of Dassel.

• permitted Myron Dvorak, parks superintendent, to sell used chain link fence at Darwin. The park board will open bids Tuesday, Nov. 20, for the 100-foot-long and seven feet high fence, and 60-foot-long and 10-foot-high fence. The fences are eight years old, and used to surround a playground at family services.

• renewed a 3.2 on sale liquor license for Darwin Rod & Gun Club.

• hired Christopher Hoard of Big Lake and Nicholas Besemer of Mountain Lake as new deputies, on condition they pass their background investigations.

• promoted jailer Jeff Peterson to both jailer/part-time deputy.

• gave the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office permission to buy four squad cars. Three were already budgeted. The fourth squad car will be for the new deputy. One of the vehicles might be a Suburban to transport prisoners, although Sheriff Mike Hirman said he will check out the price of a van.

• listened to a report about ditch projects in process from County Engineer Ron Mortensen. There might be a beaver dam that is causing problems with Meeker County Ditch 15, next to Meeker County State Aid Highway 15, he said.

• approved maternity leave for Kay Crist of the public health department from Jan. 16 to April 1.

• approved a certificate of correction by the original surveyor for Nature’s Paradise, Kingston.