Lot development at former winery gets committee approval

This property on Little Trade Lake was approved for a map amendment from agricultural-residential to residential-recreation by the Burnett County Land Use Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 2. - Special photo

4-2 vote sends matter to full county board at end of month

Becky Strabel | Staff writer

SIREN – The January meeting of the Burnett County Land Use Committee held Tuesday, Jan. 2, included only one item for the public hearing. The map amendment request by John and Margaret Seeger and Eva Development Inc. to rezone a 43-acre parcel in the Town of Trade Lake from agricultural-residential, A-2, to residential-recreation, RR-2. The owners are looking to develop 14 lots on the former Trade River Winery property.

The owners made a similar request in November, but committee member Craig Conroy stated that the density was excessive for the lake class and he made the motion to deny the request at that time. He said that he would reconsider the application with fewer lots.

Water quality was the main contention for neighboring landowners on the chain of Trade Lakes both times the request was made. Rich Hess and other landowners had spoken to the county’s land and water conservation office and had done other research that indicated that the lake is in need of improvements and is fighting high phosphorus levels. They hinted that additional homes and recreation on the small lake would not be beneficial and the committee would be failing to be good stewards of the land. It would be undercutting the efforts of not just the Round and Trade lakes improvement group but that of all lake organizations in Burnett County.


The RR-2 zoning requires 1.5-acre lots with a minimum average width of 200 feet and the plat would be conforming to lot area and lot width in their proposed districts by using the density development provision. During the application review, zoning department staff concerns were that some of the new lots would have access or viewing corridors that exceed the 35 by 100 feet of shoreline standard. They noted that if the committee approved the request that the following be included in the motion:

• Roads be built to town standards and each proposed lake lot be vegetated to meet the current requirements.

• A nonconforming structure within the lake setback must be removed by July 1 and that all local, county, state and federal requirements are followed.

The committee was reminded that the application was for a zoning change only and that they would be kicking around the plat map at a future meeting. After the hearing, the map amendment passed by a 4 -2 voice vote.

It will go to the full county board at the end of the month for final approval.

A COOP for Doomsday

The committee looked at the continuity of operation plan, also known as a continuity of government plan, for the departments that they oversee. The plan establishes defined procedures that allow a government to continue its essential operations in case of a catastrophic event such as nuclear war, a breakdown of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. electrical transmission grid or even a mass computer virus.

The departments felt that they would be available to provide information and advice to others in the government center such as in sanitation and water or location of property owners and maps.

Some of the committee members felt that towns should serve as emergency operation centers in addition to each of the village’s schools serving in that capacity because of the distance for many of the county’s residents.

Emergency management director Jim Tolbert stated that the county needed to be organized first on how it would manage the county’s business and then they could look at how it could support the towns. It is a matter of what they can do and what more they should do that the committees want to be supported.

The COOP will get people thinking about how they would survive as a family or community and how would the county survive as a whole. COOP will be a continued agenda item for many county committees this year.

Other business

Jason Towne reported that the department was under budget and requested a carryover of funds from 2017 to be used to buy new furniture for the first-floor remodel.

Many of the land-based services are currently in the airport terminal but are expected to move back to the government center in six to eight weeks. The consolidated department will be known as the Land Information Department and will include Land & Water Conservation, Zoning, Real Property Lister, GIS/Mapping and Surveying.

According to county Administrator Nate Ehalt, this will result in better customer service with more answers at one location instead of being bounced around to different offices throughout the building and reduced costs by sharing administrative positions, workloads and office equipment. The plan for committee organization is to continue currently divided, but Towne will now report to two committees as he becomes the department head of the reorganization.