Commissioners fail to reach agreement on permit for Lake Frances access

Jake Keohen, Montgomery Messenger

The Le Sueur County Board of Commissioners had one planning and zoning issue on its agenda for Tuesday, July 28, but could not reach agreement on the vote necessary for approval or denial.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathy Brockway presented the following request for action:

Al Gehrke (applicant), Waterville, Joe Clarke, Clarke's Campground, Elysian, requesting an After-the Fact (project already completed) Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow construction of a 12x24' lake access on a Recreational Development Lake (Lake Frances), in Elysian Township.

The planning commission, on an 8-2 vote, recommended denial of the application for the following reasons: No evidence of an erosion problem at the site prior to the construction of the access (before and after photos submitted); not a suitable area for a lake access; blatant disregard for the ordinance and county staff; and property to be restored to original condition by November 1, 2009.

Following discussion with Brockway, the owner and a contractor, a motion to support the P&Z recommendation to deny application failed on a 2-3 vote (Stangler and Doherty yes, Culhane, Grimm and Connolly no), with a 4/5 vote necessary on permits.

A later motion to approve the CUP failed on a 3-2 vote (Culhane, Grimm and Connolly yes, Stangler and Doherty no).

County Attorney Brent Christian stated the legal aspect of the issue: After 60 days, if there is no further action to approve or deny by the required 4/5 vote, the CUP would be automatically approved with conditions on the original application.

Also on Tuesday:

• The board heard presentations from representatives of Region 9 and Pettipiece & Associates on opportunities for assistance through grants, since Le Sueur County is now considered economically distressed. A motion was approved to support the Le Sueur County HRA in its application for Small Cities Program grants and acting as fiscal agent.

• Highway Engineer Darrell Pettis was given permission to attend a national conference in Palm Desert, CA, in October. Since Pettis is an officer of the national association, all expenses are paid.

• A general discussion was held with department heads concerning the budget for 2010. County Auditor Ron Germscheid said Le Sueur County unallotments by the state total $250,000 for 2009 and $458,000 for 2010, which will require a dramatic reduction in costs by all departments. Two possible options were discussed, including a wage freeze or time off without pay to protect job security and keep county services operating near normal. Department heads said they will discuss options with employees before any formal action is taken.

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