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Cass County Board: Further changes to guest cottage zoning ordinances proposed

WALKER—Cass County's recent zoning ordinance revision on guest cottages and guest quarters already has presented some problems, Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported Tuesday to the county board.

He proposed and the county board proceeded with calling for hearings on further changes to correct the problems.

A copy of the changes will be published next week. The public will have 30 days to submit comments to the environmental services department in the courthouse in Walker or by phone at 218-547-7241 or email at

The first public hearing is scheduled Feb. 13 at the land department in Backus.

Ringle said some people want to convert a shed or other accessory structure that is too close to a lot line or lake or other boundary to a guest cabin. They also have sought to make their current non-conforming cabin into the guest cabin and then build a new, large house on the same property.

The proposals will state: "No existing nonconforming structure may be converted into any accessory dwelling unit or dwelling unit" and "no principal residential structure may be converted into any accessory dwelling unit."

The goal is to allow guest cabins and quarters on any size lot as long as they meet all setbacks and conform with zoning regulations, Ringle said.

The new changes also clarify definitions for structures as being anything placed on a land parcel by humans for 14 consecutive days.

Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources will pay for and contract with Cass and Hubbard counties to prepare a water plan for the Leech Lake River Watershed. The Cass board and local soil and water conservation district have approved doing the plan. Hubbard County and SWCD approval is pending.

Tuesday, Cass commissioners appointed Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk as its representative to a Cass-Hubbard committee which will provide input toward the plan development. A state BWSR consultant will write the final plan over two years.

Cass commissioners questioned the need for another water plan, because the county and Hubbard already have county-wide water plans.

Gaalswyk questioned whether this proposed plan might shift some control from local governments to BWSR or whether the estimated $130,000 to $170,000 cost to the state was necessary. He called for more funding action rather than to do another plan.

"In order to get the money to do things, you sometimes have to do a plan first," Ringle said.