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Secondary living quarters ordinance meets more issues

The Crosslake City Council has been wrestling with an ordinance to allow secondary living quarters above garages in the city for almost a year, and that wrestling continued at the council’s monthly meeting Monday, May 13.

The council passed an ordinance in March allowing 700 feet of secondary living space either above garages or on the ground.

The ordinance clashed with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), however, which argued that the ordinance did not comply with statewide shoreland regulations. That matter has not yet been resolved.

The council was challenged May 13 with another complication brought forward by Lynn and Dennis Twitty, who began construction above a garage in 2011, but were issued a stop work order over issues with the area being deemed “guest quarters,” which at the time were not allowed.

In 2011, the Twittys argued that because the area above the garage was for themselves, and not for guests, it was not “guest” quarters. It was around that time the council changed the terminology of “guest quarters” to “secondary living quarters.”

The Twittys’ lawyer, Joseph Christensen, argued that the area above the garage was now compliant and the Twittys would like to continue work, with a few modifications to the original plan.

One major issue was that the area above the garage was 1,200 square feet, whereas the new code only allows for 700 square feet of secondary living quarters. Christensen argued that only half the upper level would be used for living, and the other half as a studio. He argued the studio half was not secondary living quarters, making their square footage compliant.

Council members took issue with this argument, saying it could open a wide range of issues with things like gyms or other spaces that could go in above garages alongside secondary living quarters.

There was another issue with the property. Because the Twittys are only allowed one secondary living quarters, and they already had a bunk house before the garage was built, they plan to combine the bunk house and their cabin with a 40-foot long, 7-foot wide breezeway. Adding the breezeway would, by law, create one building, allowing the garage to be the Twittys’ secondary living quarters.

After nearly an hour of discussion, the council tabled the matter, hoping to resolve the code’s issues with the DNR before resolving the Twittys’ issue.

Permit summary

Community development director Ken Anderson reported a total of 26 permits issued in April. This compares with 47 permits issued in April 2012. Last month’s permits included one home, one garage/storage building, seven land alterations, four decks/porches/breezeways/patios and three industrial/commercial buildings.

In other planning and zoning business Monday, the council:

• Approved a final plat application for Otterlei Estates.

• Approved a developer’s agreement with Pine View Child Care Learning Center. The center is required by ordinance to have 27 parking spaces, but requested it try getting by with the 12 it has now. In the interest of fostering an atmosphere conducive to new businesses, the council approved the request. The council decided to readdress the matter if parking issues occur.