Building permit applications down in Houston County

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Even though Houston County residents have experienced an unusually warm and snow free winter so far this year, the number of building permits County Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan brought before the board for approval last week was down.

At the Feb. 7 meeting, Scanlan only had seven permits for the county board to review, which they approved.

“Yes, I guess it (the number) is down and we don’t have any new homes being built right now,” Scanlan replied when asked by Board Chairman Jack Miller about the list of applications.

A month ago the board approved 16 building permits, including three new houses.

The board also approved a conditional use permit for David Strike of Wilmington Township to construct a new manure storage structure.

According to Scanlan, Strike will be closing down two older barns and building a new barn with a manure pit underneath.

“This isn’t an expansion project,” Scanlan told the board. “Soil borings have been done and the County Planning Commission has reviewed the plans and recommended the CUP be approved.”

A motion by Commissioner Justin Zmyewski and seconded by Commissioner Steve Schuldt to approve the CUP was unanimously approved.

The zoning permits included:

• Nick Weber of Mound Prairie Township to construct a 60 by 108 foot ag building.

• Steve Quinnell of Wilmington Township to construct a 45 by 36 foot pole shed.

• Gary Otterness of Black Hammer Township to construct a 22 by 36 foot pole shed.

• Ben Lind of Sheldon Township to construct a 90 by 40 foot pole shed and two corn crib lean-tos 16 by 9 feet and 38 by 16 feet.

• Patrick Doyle of Wilmington Township to construct a 13 by 6 foot garage addition (after the fact).

• Patrick Doyle of Wilmington Township to construct a 26 by 48 foot pole shed/garage.

• Dennis Mullen of Brownsville Township to construct two loafing barns (63 by 32 feet and 40 by 14 feet) to replace a barn lost in a fire.

In other board action:

Staffing issues

HR Director Tess Arrick-Kruger recommended that the county place Erin Bauer on the 67-day temporary employee home healthaide roster. Kruger explained that there have been several recent resignations in the home healthaide department, which need to be backfilled.

A motion by Commissioner Teresa Walter and seconded by Schuldt to approve the recommendation was unanimously approved.

Kruger asked the board to accept the resignation of Bonnie Felten, who was a case aide 1 worker in the Human Services Child Support Unit.

This was followed with a request to initiate an immediate search to hire a case aide 1 employee to fill Felten’s position.

A motion by Commissioner Tom Bjerke and seconded by Schuldt to approve Kruger’s requests were unanimously approved.

IT issues

IT Director Andy Milde asked the board to approve the purchase of software from Insight Public Sector of Tempe, Az. that would back-up the county’s computer severs.

“This is nothing new and we have this budgeted,” Milde told the board.

The cost of the software was $3,898.34.

Airport credit card agreement

County Highway Engineer Brian Pogodzinski, who also serves as the county airport manager, brought a credit card agreement before the board that would be used at the county airport. The county did approximately $50,000 worth of aviation fuel sales at the airport in 2011. The agreement, with Wright Express, was unanimously approved by the board.

Ace Link

The board unanimously approved a two-year contract renewal with Ace Link for phone service. By signing a two-year contract, the county will be able to save $51 per month. The monthly charge will be $459 plus tax.

Generator maintenance agreement

Several months ago the board decided to approve the extended warranty with Ziegler Power Systems of Shakopee, Minn. for the massive diesel generator that was recently installed to provide power to the County Justice Center and the County Courthouse in the event of a power failure.

The board decided not to sign a maintenance agreement with Ziegler because commissioners felt the $450 monthly charge was just too much. They felt they could find an area diesel mechanic who could perform the monthly inspection for less money.

Kruger informed the board that there was some concern whether Ziegler would honor the extended warranty if the proper inspection specifications were not met. She told the board she would find out exactly what those specifications were. She also informed the board Ziegler indicated that they wanted to send the county a revised maintenance agreement.

No action was taken on this issue.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]