By Emily Bialkowski
Plan Commission term limits are in while repurposing the Roverud Construction building in Spring Grove is out, the Houston County Board decided Oct. 29.
The county was considering relocating a portion or all of the Highway Department to the Roverud building in an effort to address deficiencies at the current location on East Washington Street in Caledonia.
A previous County Board had offered Curt Roverud $1.2 million for his unused facility on Highway 44, at which time he declined. An appraisal that came back just weeks ago on the facility put the current market value at $465,000.
“We can’t pay twice as much as the appraisal,” Commissioner Judy Storlie said.
By consensus, the board decided the option to buy the building is off the table unless Roverud is willing to sell the facility for a price “around” the appraised value.
Commissioners Justin Zmyewski and Steve Schuldt were instructed to continue to work with County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski on alternative solutions.
Months of talking, research and a public hearing have come to fruition with the County Board deciding in favor of term limits on Plan Commission members.
Balancing the need for experience and knowledge with the need for fresh faces and perspective, the board decided plan commissioners can serve a total of three, three-year terms.
Commissioner Teresa Walter contacted several other counties for example language on term limits.
“I talked to quite a few people that said that’s a real reasonable amount of time,” Walter said.
She also recommended that one county commissioner was enough representation on the board.
“I have felt personally that one commissioner on that board is enough because they are an advisory board to us.”
Along with one County Board member, the Plan Commission will continue to have one commissioner from each of the county’s five districts and one at-large commissioner, bringing the total to seven.
The new limit will go into effect Dec. 31, 2013. Any current commissioner who has served more than nine years will be ousted when their term expires.
That means every single member currently sitting on the commission – with the exception of Dan Griffin – will lose their seat in the foreseeable future, as they have all served more than nine years. Some of them have served for multiple decades.
• Bruce Lee, term expires Dec. 31, 2013.
• Charles Wieser, term expires Dec. 31, 2014.
• Garland Moe, term expires Dec. 31, 2014.
• Terry Rosendahl, term expires Dec. 31, 2015.
• Glenn Kruse, term expires Dec. 31, 2015.
County Commissioner Steve Schuldt said he wasn’t against term limits but wanted to make sure a mass exodus of experience didn’t occur. He said, “Experience counts. I don’t have a problem with term limits at all, other than we need to keep some experience on board.”
“They’ll go off when their current term limit is up, so not everyone will get kicked off at the same time,” Zmyewski assured.
More on zoning
In a related matter, the county is looking to update part of the zoning code. A study group has been set up to do so. Several items that need attention have been identified and include:
• Defining interim uses.
• Defining campground.
• Consider adding a land use development ordinance.
• Make one lot subdivision regulations less cumbersome.
• Fix clerical errors.
In other news, the board agreed to put efforts on the old jail on standby as courthouse needs have become more pressing. More than 60 employees work at the courthouse, while the jail sits empty. The need to keep the courthouse functioning has superseded the need to establish a plan for the jail.
“We are very much in limbo with that building,” Walter said.
“We still have to address it, but I think let’s get this place (the courthouse) fixed,” Schuldt said.
Finally, Zmyewski said some confusion might exist on when the frac sand moratorium expires.
The county has the authority to extend a moratorium to February 2015, and Zmyewski said he will speak with legal council on making sure the board goes through the proper channels to do so.
The county was knee deep into crafting regulations for industrial mining but backed off when the state started offering more expertise.
Storlie said it is her hope to finalize the county’s regulations by December 2014.
“Or earlier, if the opportunity arises,” Zmyewski added.