By Mel Stegner 

Changes are being made to the Pope County Land Use Controls Ordinance. After a staff-initiated review, the sections of the ordinance that required amendments were Section 2.2, Section 6, Section 7 and Section 8.

Section 2.2 is a list of definitions for the terms used in the ordinance that were not previously defined as well as terms used by land use and zoning administration. 

In sections six and seven, agriculture is the subject matter. The main change in these sections is an expanded list of things that are permissible. Section 6.4 D specifically covers non-confinement feeding areas, subject to performance standards. The previous approvals lasted one year but will now change to an interim use permit that lasts for up to six years. 

“What I’d like to see happen in the conditions of the permit is some scientific stuff, phosphorous and nitrous calculations that are currently part of the process, but as a condition I would suggest and add that we inform the property owner that we may fly this area with a drone to ensure that any sensitive resources are protected,” said David Green. “The next part we plan to address after this is the performance standards for the permits which will be very challenging.”

Land use staff is currently spending well over 50 hours per permit when you add up the yearly meetings and current requirements. Switching to the IUP makes the meetings necessary every five years. “The PCA may be the only agency that would want to weigh in on this,” said Green, “as they may say this requires an SDS permit.

All resolutions regarding the updates to the Land Use Controls Ordinance were passed unanimously. 

MPCA annual review

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conducts an annual review with the Pope County Feedlot Officer and the feedlot program.  After a review of data gathered and inputted by staff relating to feedlot inspections and registrations, a Performance Credit Report was generated. For activities accomplished in 2021, Pope County received a score of 97.7%, which exceeds the score of 96.2% that was received in 2020.

MPCA allocates monies to Pope County for implementation of the feedlot program.  The 2020 Annual Report indicated 138 registered feedlots in the county, for which Pope County received $15,275 as a base grant for registrations and inspections and an additional $600 for Performance Credits.  $10,615 of the base grant requires a 100% match of local funds.  For the year 2022, Pope County has received $15,346 from MPCA as our base grant.

Other business

A conditional use permit was granted to Jeremy Litwiller to establish an equipment rental business. A permit was originally issued in November but had to be rescinded for a short period of time for Litwiller to make some changes. The board voted unanimously to approve the CUP.

The board approved a grant for the Grove Lake Lakeshore Association to help pay for aquatic invasive species inspections at boat launch locations. The total project cost is estimated at $6,204. The association requested $5,904 from the county’s AIS prevention fund. The board has approved the grant in the past. “The five percent match seems low. Is there a report of some kind on how many boats get cleaned up?” asked Commissioner Wagner.

“There is not, and our office does push back every year to get them to pay more of their share. Many counties do this, but it’s hard to find the manpower to do so,” said Green.

Funding for improvements to the multi-use trail on the abandoned rail bed between Glenwood and Villard was approved.  A plan has been prepared that includes full-depth reclamation and new bituminous surfacing on 4.597 miles of the existing trail. Mark Lee Excavating, Inc. was awarded the bid in the amount of $350,245.00.

After the approval of all the month’s financials, a quote was discussed and accepted for the annex parking lot and fire line repair. The board approved letterhead and business cards with the new county logo. Marissa Paulzine was appointed District 4 representative for the county extension committee.

Discussion was held regarding the childcare provider grant program. Jason Murray from the Pope County HRA/EDA was present to share the information the organization has gathered in communicating with childcare provider stakeholders in the community.

The last enactment of the county’s ARPA spending plan indicated the commitment of $500,000 to relief of negative economic impacts, such as what this grant program addresses. It is designed to equitably distribute the benefits of the program to both childcare centers and family/in-home childcare providers as models by which to provide care.  “The main terms of the program are spelled out in supporting documentation, but the limits per applicant would be $15,000 per family provider and $75,000 per center provider as drafted, as well as requiring a 3-year commitment to services to retain the grant money in total,” said County Administrator Kersten Kappmeyer. Deadlines as proposed are June 10, 2022, for applications. The applications will be screened, and recommendations made for awards based on program criteria, available funding and other factors with the board’s discretion at a meeting in late June or in July