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Potential issue for lake residents fixed

November 1, 2012

MARSHALL CO. — An issue for those living around the lakes in Marshall County was resolved with a quick and painless ordinance change at the Marshall County commissioners meeting Monday. 
County Plan Commissioner Ralph Booker told commissioners that the minimum setback for buildings surrounding county lakes was 45 feet from the high water mark, according to a longstanding ordinance. Booker showed photos of many current buildings that are less than that distance away from the high water mark. 
“I just don’t think we ever used the highest water mark (for past building permits),” said Booker. “If I want to take that ordinance as it is, everyone who wants to build would have to get a variance. Anyone wanting to get a building next to the lake would be in trouble.” 
Booker pointed out that the biggest difference between where the buildings should be and where they actually are is at Lake of the Woods. Two residents, Joseph Skelton and Joseph Toth, both of the Bremen area, weighed in on the subject during a public hearing.
“What would be the problem with saying 45 feet from the water’s edge?” asked Skelton, adding, “That would be less complicated.” 
Booker responded, saying that the water’s edge changes. “I’m trying to make (the ordinance) less restrictive…. I don’t think people have followed the ordinance in the past,” said Booker. 
Toth said that he approves of a change to the ordinance if the change benefits those living near the lakes. 
After further discussion, commissioners decided to change the ordinance to read that buildings should be 45 feet away from the basic flood elevation. The change was passed on all three readings. 
In other business: 
• Highway Department superintendent Neal Haeck sought commissioners’ approval to fill three upcoming vacancies in his department. Three area leaders are needed, one to replace a deceased employee and two more to replace retiring employees. Haeck said he is interested in filling these positions as soon as possible to prepare for winter snowfall. Commissioners approved his request.

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