County waives after-the-fact penalty for sign permit

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer

The County Board voted to waive a $150 after-the-fact penalty for a sign permit request from Nathan and Cassie Baum.

The Baums installed a Class A sign at the end of their driveway advertising their Frieze Lake Ranch saddle club, which will be funding the sign.

The fly in the ointment is that the Baums did not bring a request for such a large sign to the County Planning and Zoning office. The sign was discovered when Planning and Zoning employees went to the property to conduct an inspection for another sign.

As specified in the county’s annually approved fee schedule, a permit issued after the fact is subject to a “three times the fee” penalty. In this case, a $150 penalty would be added to the $50 permit fee.

Because the Baums want to save the saddle club money, they requested that the county waive the penalty.

“It’s the education piece,” said County Commissioner Duane Johnson. “How do we get people to know they even need a permit for a sign like this?”

“Is ignorance a plea?” said Commissioner Randy Winscher.

“In a court of law, ignorance is never a defense,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Amy Kowalzek.

The Board voted 4-1 to approve the waiver.

“This is not a first; we’ve done this before,” said Commissioner Don Meyer.

Winscher opposed the waiver. “The Board approved the late penalty in the 2014 fee schedule and we should follow that,” he said.

The sign permit is not the end of the story, however, since the Baums are operating a business which requires a conditional use permit (CUP).

“Sign permits are required for a purpose,” Kowalzek said. “If we’d known ahead of time we could have interacted with them before the fact. It’s more difficult when things are already in place.”

  • robin hensel

    More EXCEPTIONS!!! It is EXCEPTIONS to laws that make lawsuits. Will all requests for waivers be granted or only this time? How does county pick and choose? Is county learning from city or vice versa? I hope this comment is not banned by terry lehrke….moderator for mcrecord website online commentary thread.

    • central mn

      “More EXCEPTIONS!!! It is EXCEPTIONS to laws that make lawsuits.” NO, it is people that throw a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way that make lawsuits!!

  • robin hensel

    No…..Central Mn allow me to clarify…..Those whose rights have been violated file lawsuits.