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Council backs stop work order on patio construction

In a 4-1 vote, the Crosslake City Council upheld a stop work order Monday night, June 10, on an unpermitted patio being reconstructed on the shore of Cross Lake.

Council member Mark Wessels voted against the measure.

Community Development Director Ken Anderson said he brought the issue before the council at a council member’s request. Anderson reported that as he was inspecting another permit application June 3, he noticed the patio improvement work being done at the nearby residence on Red Oak Circle belonging to Wayne Reinking.

Anderson said that after researching, no permits had been purchased for the initial patio or the repairs that were being conducted June 3. Other concerns over the work included the proximity of the patio to the lake and drainage from the lawn, which was being routed directly into the lake.

Reinking told the council he took out a permit for the house when he built it in 1991. He said he was simply maintaining the patio because sand between a rock wall was eroding.

“I did not know you needed a permit to do this, to be honest with you,” Reinking said. He added that he felt the work on the patio was similar to other basic maintenance, like painting the house.

Wessels asked if there was a problem with simply asking Reinking to purchase the permit now.

Anderson said the department would do whatever the council approved, but he felt the department needed to be consistent. He said the patio does not conform to city ordinances as it was too close to the lake. The city requires a setback of at least 37.5 feet.

City attorney Brad Person said that from a procedural standpoint, the city should not issue a permit.

“I don’t think the right channel is to direct staff to issue a permit because it’s against the ordinance. ... This really should go to P and Z (planning and zoning),” Person said.

Anderson said it was feasible to have Reinking on the next planning and zoning commission meeting agenda, despite the fact that it was past the deadline.

Mayor Darrell Schneider questioned how contractors were notified of what permits they were required to obtain when the city established the requirement for permits.

“From a pure legal stance,” Person responded, “if it’s in the ordinance they’ve got legal notice. It’s not necessarily our duty to run around and tell people what’s in the ordinance.

“From a customer service standpoint, obviously we want to get that to them the best we can and make sure they know what the rules are and not get to the point where it looks to me like it was a very honest surprise,” he said.

The council suggested that Reinking ask the planning and zoning commission for a variance, but both Anderson and council member Gary Heacox believed that the patio would not be granted a variance because of its proximity to the lake and the availability of space for another location on Reinking’s property.

“I don’t think there’s a chance they’re going to approve it,” Heacox said.

In addition to upholding the stop work order, the council waived late or penalty permitting fees, required erosion control on the sand resulting from the maintenance work on Reinking’s property, decided to put Reinking’s issue on the next planning and zoning meeting agenda and required Reinking change his drain system so that his lawn runoff no longer goes directly into the lake.

Concerning his patio, Reinking told the council he wasn’t alone in the issue, and wondered why he was being singled out.

“I’ve been up here for 35 years and my guess is I’m not the only one that has this same problem on the lake, and why am I the one singled out?” Reinking said.

“What about all the (other) ones that aren’t conforming that are just like me? What’s going to happen to those?” he asked.

Permit summary

The planning and zoning permit summary for May showed the department sold 54 permits, including one home, seven garages/storage buildings, five signs, five septic systems and 21 land alterations. By comparison, the department sold 61 permits in May 2012.

In other planning and zoning business, the council:

• Turned down a request by Anderson for the city to sell signs required by law to be installed in business’ parking lots. Anderson said he felt the sale could provide convenience for contractors and assist in compliance. The council decided Anderson should simply distribute information on where to purchase the signs.

• Decided that freestanding signs will be allowed next to legal, noncompliant billboards on the same property. The city no longer allows billboards, but seven were grandfathered in. The council chose to interpret city ordinance in a way that allows both a freestanding sign and an existing billboard.