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Zoning ordinance update affects sign placement

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news Alexandria, 56308
Alexandria Minnesota 225 7th Ave E
P.O. Box 549
56308

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs - as long as they're not too close to property lines. Douglas County commissioners approved a zoning ordinance revision that affects sign placement throughout the county at the June 11 county board meeting.

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Land and Resource Management Director Dave Rush said his office has been working on a revision to the performance standards section of the zoning ordinance as it pertains to signs. Following a public hearing that was attended by four major sign companies that work in Douglas County, the planning commission recommended approval and adoption of the ordinance with changes.

Rush said the sign companies expressed general support for the revisions in the ordinance and that the commission worked cooperatively with Alexandria Township on the plan.

Sign companies had some concerns regarding proposed restrictions on location, size of electronic signs and how a change to distance setback would affect existing signs.

"We'd be changing to a [sign] height, plus 10 percent," Rush said. "So if the sign were to fall over, it falls over on the property of the sign owner."

However, statute allows for existing signs that do not conform with the 110 percent ordinance change to remain. Signs can be maintained, but cannot be moved any closer to the property line or enlarged. The ordinance allows for digital signs to be as large as any other sign allowed within commercial, industrial and agricultural zoning districts. Rush noted electronic signs are more common in the city of Alexandria and that the county is different than the city of Alexandria in that the city is more prescriptive of where signs are allowed.

The county ordinance had required little setback to side property lines. The height plus 10 percent, or 110 percent, setback change became effective as soon as commissioners voted in favor of adoption.

Commissioners also approved Rush's request to fill a vacancy in the Land and Resource Management office. Environmental Technician Aaron Jensen submitted his resignation on June 7.

"We hire good people and they do good work for us," Rush said. "Unfortunately, other agencies and entities notice that and it makes them desirable candidates."

Jensen will be joining the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in St. Paul. Jensen had been with Douglas County for approximately five years, working with stormwater and septic programs. Rush said Jensen had done a terrific job.

"You train too well," said Commissioner Bev Bales.

Rush said Douglas County employees moving on to other agencies including the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and MPCA is a testament to Douglas County and is noticed throughout the state.

"It's a benefit to us in the long run," Rush said.

DETOURS AHEAD

The intersection of County Roads 1 and 5 in Evansville will be temporarily closed on July 6 for the Firemen's Street Dance. Roads will be blockaded at 3 p.m. and will reopen after the dance ends at 1 a.m. The dance will be held at the Fire Hall. County State Aid Highway 7 in Millerville will be closed off on July 19 for that city's annual street dance.

Road work is planned for County Roads 11, 34, 82, 104, 64 and North Lake Miltona Drive this construction season. Central Specialties was granted the contract on a six-project bid for a resurfacing project. Central Specialties' bid of $2,408,171 came in less than the engineers' estimate of $2,412,664. Tri-City Paving bid $2,556,477 and Duininck, Inc. bid $3,093,920.

COMMISSIONERS ON CAMERA

It's been talked about for years, planned for months and now the Douglas County Commissioner meetings will be broadcast on YouTube and on Alexandria Community Television public access Channel 7, the same channel that airs Alexandria City Council meetings.

NEW SHOP IN SPRUCE HILL

A new consignment shop will be opening its doors in the northeast corner of Spruce Hill Township off of County Road 18. A conditional use permit allowing the business with a sign was granted to John H. Haffner, etal trustees. The shop will be housed in an existing barn on the property zoned for agricultural use. The planning and zoning commission supported the permit prior to commissioners' approval.

HOMELESS VETERANS

Ray Kallstrom, Douglas County Veterans Service officer, presented commissioners with a $665 donation from the Ladies Auxiliary VFW Post 936. Funds will be applied toward providing shelter at a local hotel for homeless veterans who seek assistance from the Veterans Service Office. A one-night hotel stay would be considered in emergency situations when transporting the veteran to a Department of Veterans Affairs facility is not feasible.

Bales updated the board on the county's designation as a Beyond the Yellow Ribbon community. She said Douglas County is one of seven in the state to participate. Eight signs were put up across the county last month to notify people of Douglas County's dedication to active and retired military personnel. Signs cost $213 with a $322 savings for keeping them local.

Bales said Beyond the Yellow Ribbon has plans to begin honoring students coming out of high school entering military service. "There are only a couple basically right now," Bales said. "But we're recognizing any of these folks who are entering the service."

DeyCrystal 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.

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