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Wells snafu may need a variance

By Staff | Aug 19, 2012

A snafu has the Wells City Council wondering and scrambling on what to do next.

Building inspector Bryan Stensland recently signed off on Jerry Dulas’ building permit application.

The problem: a shed being constructed on his property at 120 Half Moon Road violates the city’s zoning ordinance.

So, a “stop work” order has been issued.

“The size of the shed exceeds that allowed for accessory buildings in R2 residential areas,” says Brian Heck, interim city administrator.

Heck says the new structure cannot be larger than 200 square feet.

On the permit application, the proposed shed was listed as being 40 feet by 54 feet. Also, its 14-foot walls do not comply with the 10-foot limit.

“I haven’t seen it, but I understand the walls and roofing are up.” says Heck.

Councilmembers weren’t too pleased with being put into a position of having to decide if a variance will be issued.

Generally, the Planning and Zoning Commission considers requests for a variance and then makes a recommendation to the council.

But, because commission members aren’t scheduled to meet soon the council decided to address the problem at its Aug. 27 meeting and also hold a public hearing at that time.

Deputy City Clerk Deb Redman told councilmembers her current workload will make it difficult to notify property owners by letter.

“It’s his problem. He needs to get involved and help you out,” says Councilman Jay Corbin in referring to Stensland.

Councilwoman Ann Marie Schuster isn’t sure if contracting for building inspector services is a good idea.

“This isn’t working out. We have to make a change,” she says.

On the Wells website a variance from the zoning ordinance may be granted when it is in the public’s interest to do so for the reasons of:

width, depth, odd size or shape;

exceptional topographic conditions, water conditions or other extraordinary and exceptional conditions of the lot;

strict application would result in peculiar and practical difficulties or exceptional or undue hardship upon the owner developing or using such lot in a manner customary or legally permissible in the zoning district in which the lot is located;

that the owner can show that the strict compliance with the zoning regulations is unreasonable.

Heck says a Minnetonka case has changed state law for granting a variance and may have an impact.

City Council meetings begin at 5 p.m. at the Community Center.