County Board approves several land use requests

By Emily Bialkowski

Caledonia Argus


Two variances and one conditional use permit were reviewed by the Houston County Planning and Zoning Commission Sept. 26 before the final decision landed in the lap of the County Board on Oct. 8. All three items received approval by both boards.

First, Darryl Sharon, of Winnebago Township, asked for a variance on a shed that encroaches on the west property line by about 10 feet.

Second, James Stromberg, of Money Creek Township, asked for a variance of 15 feet on the east property line and 30 feet on the south property line on a mini storage building.

Both variances were granted.

A conditional use permit application from Eric Johnson, of Mound Prairie Township, was presented. Johnson asked to move 50 cubic yards of material in a shore-land district to relieve flooding pressure from heavy rains. Johnson wants to excavate what is a portion of an old railroad bed to allow water to pass off his field.

Johnson contacted the Army Corps of Engineers, the county engineer, the Planning and Zoning administrator and the Department of Natural Resources to make sure all concerns were addressed.

Zoning Administrator Bob Scanlan presented the recommendation to the County Board and said a few neighbors expressed concern about letting water go during high water events, but during the June 2013 floods, for example, the water breached the entire railroad bed anyway. The excavation will hopefully alleviate a portion of that pressure.

“It sounds like he approached all the right people,” Commissioner Steve Schuldt said.

The Plan Commission recommended approval with contingencies, including:

• All local, state and federal permits are acquired.

• The excavation cannot exceed a 5 foot decline from the adjacent crop land.

• Any material taken from the process must be spread on the upland agricultural land and not the lower wetland.

The application received a positive nod.

Several zoning permits were also approved. See chart for details.

Finally, a conditional use permit renewal from Old Hickory Orchards was presented for temporary employee housing during the apple harvest. The original permit was approved in 2002 and requires yearly renewal, which the board granted.


Highway Department

In other business, Houston County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski presented several final contract vouchers for work on roads affected by the June floods.

Most noteworthy is the total amount, approximately $363,000, which will be paid for by FEMA (75 percent) and the state (25 percent).

About $213,000 went to Griffin Construction and $150,000 to Van Gundy Excavating.

Pogodzinski also presented information from the Federal Aviation Administration that forces the county to rework its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program. The work has to be done for the county to continue to receive FAA grants. A consultant (Mead & Hunt) will draft the update and help the county gain approval from the FAA at a cost of $4,856.

The work was approved by the board.

In other news from the airport, the runway repavement project is quickly moving along. Contractors still need to do some earthwork to bevel the area where the runway meets the grass, but that will only shut the runway down for a few days.

Pogodzinski said he hopes the runway improvement will last 15 years and said weather, more than traffic, plays the largest part in determining the life of the runway.


September Zoning Permits


Tom and Jeff Gerard, Wilmington Township, build lean-to on existing shed.

Irvin and Joanne Schansberg, Caledonia Township, build house, deck, garage and shop with lean.

Morken Farms, Black Hammer Township, build bunker silo.

Jeffrey Eastman, Jefferson Township, build shop/garage.

Arlin Gran and Greg Gran, Crooked Creek Township, replace existing trailer – no additional bedrooms.

A. Peter and Jeanne Johnson, Houston Township, build shed.

Dean Miller, Wilmington Township, build storage shed.

Travis and Naaren Kingsley, Sheldon Township, build a garage.

Josh Swenson, Sheldon Township, build house and garage.

Karl Stokman, Winnebago Township, build pole shed.

Tony Breeser, Union Township, build shed.

Dennis Gulbranson, Spring Grove Township, build pole storage building.

Tim Schieber, Caledonia Township, build shed.