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Paynesville Press - August 8, 2001

Zion Township updates its zoning ordinance

By Linda Stelling

Residents in Zion Township will need to pay a fee the next time they want to construct a new building. They will also have to travel to St. Cloud to get a building permit for a new house or for any building containing animals.

The township recently updated its ordinance to adjust to the year-old county zoning ordinance. Since the county adopted their zoning ordinance in April of 2000, townships have needed to make their ordinance as restrictive or more restrictive as the county's. If not, the county ordinance supercedes the township and control moves to St. Cloud.

Prior to the agreement between the city and township, residents were required to obtain permits from both entities. The agreement will eliminate this practice.

The Zion Township Board opted to have Stearns County issue permits for new homes, barns, and projects that add square footage to existing buildings.

Depending on what they are building, residents will need to apply to the county or the township when building or remodeling a structure, explained Duane Burg, a Zion Township supervisor. It can be confusing, Burg said.

The township retains the right to issue permits for agricultural and residential accessory buildings —such as machine sheds, and detached garages — and for remodeling, residing, and reroofing projects that do not add square footage.

"We wanted … to avoid people coming to St. Cloud for all their permits," said Jennifer Buckentine, an environmental specialist with the county.

According to its agreement with the county, the township will issue all permits and conduct site inspections for permits on accessory buildings. The township will also hold public hearings and act on all variance requests that relate to township roads or property. The county will conduct public hearings and act on all variances relating to setbacks from county highways.

The county and township will be sharing the information they gather in the permitting process, with copies of all permits being sent to the other entity.

"This is the best route for the township," said Carolyn Reeck, township clerk. If the township hadn't made changes to its ordinance, the county would have taken over everything, Reeck said. "This way we still have some say," she added.

Zion Township first adopted a zoning ordinance in 1975. Upon researching the ordinance for this latest change, board members discovered a $5 permit fee that was never enforced, said Reeck.

The new ordinance established new permit fees: $25 for accessory buildings or projects that exceed $10,000; $100 for a variance permit that requires a hearing; $100 for conditional use permits; and $100 for interim use permits.

The new ordinance and permit fees went into effect on June 12.

Township permit applications can be obtained from the township clerk.

County permits are available at Stearns County Environmental Services. A county building permit costs $50, and a variance or conditional use permit costs $125.

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