New county application devised to prevent land division issues

A new application to be used by Morrison County residents wishing to divide their property has been developed by Amy Kowalzek of the Planning and Zoning Office in cooperation with Brenda O’Neil and Russ Nygren from the Auditor’s Office.

“This developed out of our conversations with the county recorder, the Public Works Department and the auditor,” said Kowalzek. “We found that often when properties were split, there were unintended consequences.”

There are some common scenarios that the Planning and Zoning Office sees. For instance, feedlots have a contiguous acreage requirement. When they are split and a portion sold, the contiguous lot requirement must still be met or the conditional use permit would be nullified.

Splits have been attempted which create nonconforming setbacks because attention is not paid to building setbacks when determining property lines.

Some split lots have been sold for building lots only to discover that the density standard has been met and a land use permit for a home cannot be granted.

Splits have been done that create landlocked parcels (with no road access), a violation of the Land Use Control ordinance.

Lots are eligible to be divided two times (to equal three pieces) before a subdivision is required. If splits are created in excess of that, land use permits are not granted on those parcels.

County officials realized it would work much better for everyone involved if a proposed split were reviewed prior to having the land divided. The new application brings involved offices into the procss on the front end — surveyors, attorneys, title companies, realtors and county officials.

“We want people to realize the unintended consequences of dividing their land before it is too late,” said Kowalzek. “Our hope is that we can provide information to people considering a land division on the front end so they can made good, long-term decisions after weighing all the options. We certainly do not like delivering the bad news that someone’s plan cannot move forward because they’ve already completed a land divison that is not compliant.”

The application is to be filled out by the owner/applicant and it then moves from office to office within the county to see what all the implications of the action might be.

“That way, we do the legwork behind the scenes rather than sending constituents all over,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber. “We are so appreciative of Amy for taking this approach.”

“I have to credit the Auditor’s Office; Brenda and Russ put in a lot of time to pull this together and their cooperation really made this work,” said Kowalzek. “It was a cooperative effort.”

“Using this form is not a requirement, but we hope people realize the benefit of it,” Gruber said.

The form can be picked up in person and is also posted on Morrison County’s Web site at