A lot of hay over zoning in Douglas County
Pups in Millerville Township have a new spa but horses in Hudson won't be gaining ground.
Douglas County commissioners approved a conditional use permit for John and Kathleen Bakken to operate a water therapy and grooming business for dogs in Millerville. The planning and zoning commission was unanimously not in favor of a conditional use permit to allow horses in the residential shoreland zoning district on Susan and Bennie Hedstrom's property in Hudson.
Douglas County Land and Resource Director Dave Rush said the planning commission recommended denial of the application in part based on the size of the lots. The pasture area would not support more than a half-animal unit per acre, Rush said. The area is residential in appearance and not compatible with the use of grazing horses.
A landowner to the north of Hedstrom's property opposed approval of the permit stating that he purchased his property based on the current residential zoning and has concerns that changes could affect taxes. Commissioner Norm Salto noted that Hudson Township was also opposed.
Bennie Hedstrom said that the lots described would move his horses away from the creek and Union Lake. Although a neighbor supported Hedstrom attesting to him taking very good care of his animals and that he has improved the property since taking ownership, commissioners denied the request. Commissioner Paul C. Anderson was in favor of granting the conditional use permit.
The planning commission held a public hearing on the issue two-weeks prior to the December 27 commissioner's meeting.
AGREEMENTS AND PARTNERSHIPS
Earlier in 2012 the Pope County zoning administrator resigned. Additional resignations left the office shorthanded. Douglas County Land and Resource Director Dave Rush was contracted to assist the Pope County zoning office during the past six months. Another six-month contract was approved to allow Rush to help maintain stability in the neighboring county's office until staffing is up to an adequate level.
In a split vote commissioners approved a three-year contract with Contegrity Group Inc. for future consultation services. Contegrity Group has provided Douglas County with consultation services for construction projects since 2006. Commissioner Jerry Johnson said it is a benefit for the county because Contegrity has been with many of the building and remodeling projects from day one. Commissioner Bev Bales agreed adding that the expertise of the company has saved the county money.
Commissioner Paul C. Anderson disagreed with the contract stating that it is "kicking bidding out the window." Commissioner-elect Jim Stratton agreed with Anderson saying the contract ties the county's hands where money could be spent locally. Bids for work to be completed on projects will still be sought and the contract allows for negotiations at the onset of each facility project. Commissioners Anderson and Dan Olson voted no to the contract extension.
Douglas County Public Health will be providing early childhood screening for the Alexandria, Brandon, Evansville and Osakis School Districts. The department will also provide nurse consultation services to Alexandria Area YMCA child care for $48 per hour, a one-dollar increase from last year. An outpatient consultation and education contract for New Visions was renewed at the same $48 per hour rate.
Commissioner Bev Bales informed the board that inmates at the Douglas County Jail are eligible to take advantage of the Coast2Coast prescription drug plan available at area pharmacies.
The Douglas County Board of Commissioners adopted an Association of Minnesota Counties resolution supporting amending Minnesota's Safe Harbor Act to define all sex-trafficked children under the age of 18 as crime victims, not as juvenile delinquents. The resolution states that as many as 300,000 children in the United States are at risk for sexual exploitation each year. In Minnesota an estimated 8,000 to 12,000 people are involved in prostitution or sex trafficking every day. The average age of a girl's entry into prostitution is 12 to 14 years old. Commissioner Bev Bales said that although greater Minnesota does not have as large a problem as the metro area, it is still a problem statewide.
Douglas County received a $414,639 dividend from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust (MCIT). Commissioners approved transfer of the money from the general fund to the capital projects budget as has been done in years past. The dividend consists of $181,226 attributable to workers' compensation coverage and $233,413 attributed to property and casualty coverage. The MCIT board of directors awarded $29.9 million to members in good standing in 2012.
Crystal Dey Crystal Dey is a staff reporter for the Echo Press. Originally from Minnesota's Iron Range, Dey worked for newspapers in North Dakota, Florida and Connecticut before returning to her home state to join the Echo Press in October 2011. Dey studied Mass Communications at Minnesota State University Moorhead with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Follow Staff Reporter Crystal Dey on Twitter at @CrystalDey_Echo.