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Paynesville Press - December 31, 2003

Paynesville Township will hold meeting in January

By Michael Jacobson

The Paynesville Township Board of Supervisors took the following actions at their meeting on Monday, Dec. 22.

• The board set a meeting for Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m. Previously the board decided not to meet in January but now has business to do. The board will also meet on Monday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. and on Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m.

The township's annual meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 9.

• The board approved a final payment to Duininck Brothers of $23,804 for work on the township road project this summer. Payments to Duininck Brothers total $314,344, under their bid of $347,000 for the road and trail project along Breezewood Road, Crest Ridge Road, and NW Koronis Road.

The township does have other costs but estimates that the total project is still $20,000 under the bids.

• The board tabled a proposal to reduce the speed limit on Old Lake Road from 40 mph to 30 mph. Supervisor Harry Thielen said he spoke to five people one day and all said leave it at 40 mph. But supervisor Pat Meagher said he talked with families with kids and they asked for the speed limit to be reduced for safety reasons.

Board chairman Don Pietsch said the township can lower the speed limit on the road because with residences every 300 feet it qualifies as a rural residence. The township, though, cannot compromise and lower the speed limit to 35 mph. It must be either 30 mph or 40 mph.

The board agreed that the issue did not really need to be decided until spring, when people start walking along the road and summer lake traffic increases the use, so they tabled the issue until April in order for each supervisor to contact more residents.

• The board agreed to raise its offer to the city over the proposed aquatic park project. Previously, the board had agreed for the township to cover a third of the cost of a pool facility with a $400,000 limit. The city had responded with a proposal, based on population, for the township to cover 38 percent and the city to cover 62 percent. This could amount to $50,000 more from the township. But it should make sense when the pool proposal is put to a vote in the city and township, said Meagher, who serves as the township's representative on the committee, along with Wiese.

The board also agreed that the township could accept some responsibility for mowing at Veteran's Memorial Park, a city park on Lake Koronis located in Paynesville Township, but the board indicated that it would like to keep its $4,000 contribution for lifeguards at the park but not to increase its monetary expenses for the park.

The township is asking the city to become a half owner in the Koronis Civic Arena, currently owned solely by the township, but only to split future maintenance, not to participate in debt retirement, which the township covers.

• The board discussed proposed changes to the Stearns County ordinance, which will be the subject of a county public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 20. Among the proposed changes are reducing the clustering bonus from 50 percent to 25 percent; reducing the maximum lot size for clustering to one acre; requiring clustered lots to be contiguous; not counting wetlands for zoning purposes; and eliminating the residual building rights for 40-acre ag plots.

Of particular concern to the township board was the reducing of the lot size for clustering to one acre, since the township has a minimum lot size of two acres. Pietsch told the board that a compromise with the county might be reached at a lot size of 1.5 acres. Otherwise, the township would need to grant variances for one-acre lots for any clustered developments in the township.

So far, though, only one development has used clustering, which grants bonus building rights for using small lot sizes.

The board also felt that wetlands should count for determining building sites. If the land is taxed, it should count, they felt. Since some wetlands are not taxed at the full rate, Pietsch suggested that a compromise might be to count wetland acreage at the rate it is taxed.

So, for example, a 20-acre wetland taxed at 50 percent in R-5 zoning would count as ten acres, yielding two building sites for the owner, who would need to use the building sites elsewhere on his property but could use the wetland as set aside.

• The board approved a resolution backing the Lake Koronis Trail and agreeing to be a receiver of federal funds, required in order for the trail committee to apply again for federal funds for the project. The deadline for T-21 funds is Wednesday, Jan. 21, trail consultant Jeff Bertram told the board. The trail was listed as the #2 priority in the county two years ago and the #1 priority in the county last year.

• The board heard a request from David Shay, on behalf of his client/ mother Angeline Shay to open and maintain a road. Shay submitted a map that listed it as a township road and letters from a former road contractor for the township and a neighbor who reported that the township used to maintain the road.

However, township clerk Don Wiese reported to the board that by state statute the township cannot open a road that has had no funds for the last 25 years without electorate approval. According to a neighbor who moved there in 1972, the road was not being maintained at that time.

The board directed Wiese to consult with their attorney on this matter and put the item on its agenda for Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 7:45 p.m.

• The board approved rezoning nearly 35 acres of property on Cemetery Road, owned by Loren and Geraldine Meyer, from R-10 to commercial, following a public hearing. The former farm site is currently being used for storage. It is located next to the new airport, which is zoned commercial within the city of Paynesville.

Meagher asked about a rumor that he heard saying that a trailer park was planned for the site, but Pietsch said that this would not be possible under the township ordinance, which requires that residences be at least 24 feet wide, among other things.

• The board approved a conditional-use permit for Ted's RV Land to expand their business onto a newly acquired, adjacent 1.31-acre lot on the south side of Highway 55. The business had agreed with MnDOT to remove one road access to the additional property and share the other access, which will be widened, with D&D Storage.

The township board reminded Ted and Jerry Hoekstra that they cannot have more than 60 percent impervious surface on their lots. Previously, Ted's RV Land received a variance from this requirement by agreeing to do some stormwater improvements on its property.

• The board set a hearing for a conditional-use permit on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 7:45 p.m. for Ted's RV Land to use property on the north side of Highway 55 for storage of sold RVs and extra inventory. MnDOT is expected to approve the change as long as no customers traffic the site and extra use of the access to the highway is kept minimal.

• The board ordered an investigation of its minutes from November 2000, following a request from former supervisor John Atwood, who is concerned about the billing of fire calls. The township has billed property owners who have a burning permit but do not call before burning, as required. Without calling before burning, the dispatcher will send the fire department, even to controlled fires.

• The township received contribution requests of $3,500 from the Paynesville Area Center and $1,000 from the R.O.S.E. Center. These requests will be voted on at the annual meeting in March.

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