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Paynesville Press - May 18, 2005

Township approves working with city on nature preserve

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors took the following actions at their meeting on Monday, May 9.

*The board approved participating in the Kruger Lake Nature Preserve. The city holds an option to purchase 120 acres around Kruger Lake from Mary Hahn for $200,000, and Hahn wants the property to be used as a nature preserve. The city has already received a DNR grant for $100,000, and the city and township - who have been working on the project together for several months - have agreed to split costs on the project on a 62:38 basis, meaning the township's maximum liability would be $38,000.

The committee is continuing to pursue grants for the project.

*The board spent 45 minutes discussing a variance request for Marty and Nanette Frank, who wanted to expand their feedlot to 299 animal units in a T-20 zone. They own 157 acres of 185th Street and ultimately decided not to pursue their variance request with the county.

The board - whose only decision was either to recommend the variance to the county board or not - received nine written comments: three in support of the request and six against. Another neighbor supporting the request (or not objecting to it) also attended the meeting, as did several opponents, including Eldred and Marilyn Lieser, whose development, Elmar Acres, sits across the road from the Franks' farm.

Opponents asked the board to keep the requirements in T-20, meant to be a transitional zone from ag to residential, and cited concerns of air quality, water quality, and land values as reasons against the variance. Supporters of their request included two neighbors who also farm.

A large part of the discussion revolved around lowering the variance request to a smaller amount of animal units in the registered feedlot. But the Liesers and their family said they could not support any expansion of the Franks' feedlot.

Without the support of their neighbors, the county would not support their variance, conceded Marty Frank, who returned to the meeting with his wife Nanette and asked the board to drop his variance request. Since a hearing at the county had been scheduled but not occurred, the township board directed chairman Don Pietsch to contact the county and ask about the possibility of returning the Franks' fee from the county.

*The board approved, following a public hearing, to recommend to the county that 121.4 acres of land owned by Dennis Spaulding and Earl Stang (along the Crow River west of Paynesville) be rezoned from agriculture to R-10. Stang and Spaulding had requested R-5 but the land borders R-10 to the south. They told the board that they could live with R-10. The rezoning request now goes to Stearns County, which has final authority.

*The board approved an addition to its zoning ordinance requiring dedication of land for recreation - parks, trails, or open space - in new plats in the township. The county is expected to approve this addition to the county-wide zoning ordinance, and by adopting it, the township hopes to keep all funds local. (Developers can pay a per-lot fee in lieu of land dedication.)

The township has not set any fees yet for this new ordinance, waiting to see the county fees first.

*The board appointed Pietsch and clerk Don Wiese to a joint planning board with the city to discuss a new orderly annexation agreement with the city. Such an agreement assures that annexation of properties will only be done with a majority consent of landowners, returns a portion of the property taxes of annexed land to the township for five years, and prolongs the returning of property taxes to the township if the property is not developed within two years. In essence, this agreement makes annexation an option only for property owners who desire city sewer and water service.

*The board set a variance hearing on Monday, June 13, at 8:15 p.m. for Dale Klein, who wants to add onto his accessory building about 200 sq. ft. above the limits in the township ordinance at his residence.

*The board approved asking the county to reconsider a variance request by township resident Larry Bollman, which had been denied despite initial indications that it would be acceptable.

*The board received notification from MnDOT that it would not be doing a speed study on Crosswood Road because it is too short (less than a half mile in length). MnDOT informed the township that it could be considered a local street and could be posted at 25 mph.

*The board was informed by SEH that the average daily traffic on Hillside Court and Cherrywood Road were estimated at less than 500 per day and thus the roads would be suitable for multi-use (vehicles and pedestrian trail). Cherrywood Road would likely still have less than 500 daily count even if more lots were developed on the end. However, if it ever were to be connected to Old Lake Road, traffic counts would likely increase above 500.

*The board received notification that of 49 parcels whose owners appealed their property tax valuations or requested an explanation, 28 properties had had their valuations lowered by the Board of Appeal and Equalization.

*The board approved charging a triple fee for an after-the-fact site permit for residents who started to build a deck without a permit.

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