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County Board amends buffer zone ordinance

The McLeod County Board of Commissioners amended its recently adopted buffer ordinance to comply with the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BOWSR) at its Tuesday, June 19, meeting.
Ryan Freitag of the McLeod Soil and Water Conservation District said BOWSR “did not agree with the administrative penalty” portion of the county’s ordinance. When the County Board approved its ordinance in October 2017, it had agreed to a sliding scale of fines, which it could adapt to the severity of violations or the progress, or lack of progress, in complying with the ordinance.
The “buffer law” establishes a buffer zone along waterways that cannot be farmed or developed. The buffer, usually consisting of vegetation, is designed to capture and dilute potential fertilizer and herbicide run-off before it enters water ways.
The county had adopted a buffer zone ordinance so that it would have local control over its administration and penalties.
Freitag said that the ordinance’s amendment will take out the administrative penalties and “will leave it to the prosecuting attorney’s discretion” as to whether a legal penalty will be pursued for non-compliance of the ordinance. In the county’s case, the prosecuting attorney would be the county attorney. County Attorney Michael Junge said that if the county does decide to pursue a penalty, it will be up to a judge to determine what the penalty will be.
For more, see the June 27 print edition of The Chronicle.