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County Board adopts buffer zone ordinance

The McLeod County Board of Commissioners adopted its buffer zone ordinance after a public hearing Tuesday morning. Having an ordinance in place will allow the county to administer the state’s buffer zone regulations, rather than having the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or the Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) administer them.
County Administrator Pat Melvin said the county’s proposed ordinance was drafted by the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the county’s planning and zoning department, and is based on a sample ordinance provided by BWSR.
“We’re not really creating our own ordinance; in essence, we’re using their sample policy,” said Melvin.
But BWSR did have some recommended changes to the ordinance that was tweaked by the county. Two of those changes, Melvin said, were “insignificant” and could be easily corrected.
The third requested change involved the suggested fine for not complying with the state’s buffer law. The county’s ordinance suggested that there be no fine the first 11 months of a potential violation, a fine of up to $200 per parcel for violations for three months after the original 11 months, and up to $500 per parcel for violations after six months after the original 11 months.
“They are asking us to put a definite number to the amount of the fine,” said Melvin.
McLeod County Attorney Mike Junge said the board was free to include the “up to” in its ordinance, rather than setting a flat rate.
“It’s your ordinance, not theirs (BWSR’s),” said Junge.
For more about the ordinance, see the Oct. 18 print edition of The Chronicle.