By Greg Hunt
After a public hearing was held during the Sept. 21 Isanti County Board meeting, new minimum requirements were amended to the county’s Zoning Ordinance on motorized sport vehicle tracks on private property.
The new rules include a 10-acre minimum standard for vehicles 125cc or smaller and a minimum 20-acre parcel required for vehicles over 125cc. Tracks must be 50 feet from property lines and 1,000 feet from the nearest residence. Another distance requirement is the tracks must be 50 feet from the road right-of-way of a county or township road.
IC Zoning Director Tim Anderson added that each bike using a track must be certified at 78 decibels at a 50-foot distance, 65 decibels at the property lines and 55 decibels at the nearest side of any neighboring residence.
“We will allow 60 days for existing tracks to come in for new interim use permits or they will be shut down,” said Anderson, who estimated there are 25 tracks with permits in the county as of Sept. 21.
The amended requirements passed by a 4-1 vote by the board, with Commissioner George Larson voting against.
“I think the minimum acreage is still too small; 10 acres is not a very big piece of property, so that is why I will vote against this amendment,” spoke Larson. “If tracks are located deep in, say, a 120-acre wooded property, then they will have less impact on neighbors. When a neighbor comes from work and has to hear this noise, that’s taking peace away from something they deserve.”
Movement toward revoking peat mining permit
Over two years ago, LeRoy Mell of Section 2 in North Branch Township received a conditional use permit (CUP) to create a large wildlife pond on his property through the mining of peat. With the work still not completed according to the specifications, the IC Planning Commission recommended revoking the CUP. An additional public hearing on the action will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Oct. 19 County Board meeting.
A primary problem associated with the project was a township ditch was filled in, causing a township road to be flooded and affecting neighbors’ access to their properties. A berm created from the digging also is along the township road; the spoils of the project were supposed to be spread throughout Mell’s land.
• Additional actions from Planning Commission recommendations: Approval was granted for an extended home occupation interim use permit to James Dougherty to operate a custom meat processing facility for hogs, cattle and deer in Spencer Brook Township. There will be no slaughtering on site, and waste materials will be frozen in barrels.
• Approved Peter Karpe’s 90-day interim use permit for the mining of 1 acre of clay (3-feet deep) from his property in Isanti Township. Mud and clay from the hauling trucks must be cleaned off Co. Rd. 5 during this operation.
Auditor’s Office bogged down by passports, driver licenses
Isanti County Auditor Terry Treichel approached the board with concerns about his office being overwhelmed with processing passports and issuing driver’s licenses. The Auditor/Treasurer’s office is down three full-time positions at present. Complicating that condition, said Treichel, is a 2011 mandate from the U.S. State Department that the same person can not process both passports and first-time driver’s licenses.
“We’re drowning now, Commissioners,” spoke Treichel, who added that the office is also dealing with new software to process walk-through deeds. “It is our responsibility to do our statutory duties, and we are not doing that now. We are a month behind on deeds since we have to shift too many personnel hours to driver’s licenses and passports.”
Treichel and the commissioners debated several scenarios. If the county opted to not process passports, the nearest office still processing them is in the Ham Lake/Soderville area. If the county chooses not to process first-time driver’s licenses, Pine City or Mora would be the nearest offices for that duty.
Even though Isanti County is on a hiring freeze, Commissioner Susan Morris made a motion to bring Treichel’s concerns to the next Personnel Committee meeting. The commissioners voiced concerns against taking away the service of issuing first-time driver’s licenses.
In other action, the board:
• Agreed to an office rental rate of $8.50/sq.ft. with the East Central Regional Library, along with a $4/sq.ft rate for the garage area at the Cambridge office.
ECRL director Barb Misselt was on hand. She advised the board that since the county’s preliminary budget included cuts to the library contribution, library service hours may need to be cut back at the Isanti County locations (as per the joint powers agreement).
• Set a public hearing for 10 a.m. at the Oct. 19 meeting on the Park Legacy Grant application for improvements to Springvale County Park.
Parks Director Barry Wendorf will lead a parks tour for the commissioners to Vegsund, Anderson and Wayside Parks after the Oct. 5 board meeting.