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Joint Planning Board: Hearing set on new ordinance

A public hearing is set for Wednesday on possible changes to the ordinance that governs planning and zoning rules in the Bemidji area.

The Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board will host the public hearing during its regular meeting that begins at 6 p.m. at Bemidji City Hall.

The JPB controls the Zoning Ordinance, which states the planning and zoning regulations for the city of Bemidji and Bemidji and Northern townships.

The Zoning Ordinance each year is examined by joint planning staff and officials to determine whether any adjustments or amendments are needed.

The Joint Planning Commission has been working on the revisions since December. The JPC last month decided to forward its recommended ordinance to the JPB, which will hold a public hearing.

The JPB, following the hearing, could choose to adopt the amendments or direct staff to make changes.

The proposed changes can be found online at by clicking on "what's new" and then "ordinance review and proposed changes."

There are 30 pages with proposed changes.

During the JPC's review, some residents expressed concerns with the proposed changes that would require paved driveways and also those that would change the allowances for having domestic farm animals.

For driveways, the proposed ordinance would require a paved driveway for residential parcels that have less than 1 acre of land.

An improvement from a gravel driveway to a paved driveway would be required if a new garage is permitted, if an addition adds at least 20 percent of living space to the residence, if the property is converted from a residential family use to a rental, or when a new home is permitted for a parcel of land.

For animals, several new sections of text have been included in the proposed ordinance. Specifications are included to differentiate between operations that would be allowed without a permit and those that would require a permit.

For those allowed without a permit, a minimum of 3 acres would be required instead of the current 2 acres.

The number of animals allowed per acre would be determined by Minnesota Department of Agriculture's animal units calculations.

For residential properties with less than 3 acres of land, a permit would be required to allow for the placement of domestic farm animals.

A written management plan and diagram of the confinement structure are among 13 requirements proposed for securing a permit. Animal odors may not be detectible on adjacent on nearby properties.

Also on agenda...

In other business, the JPB will:

- Hold a public hearing and consideration of the proposed fee schedule for 2010.

- Consider a Conditional Use Permit request from the Vista North Homeowner's Association to consolidate two already-existing Common Interest Communities into one. No new development is proposed. If approved the CUP would essentially correct existing conditions and easement locations.

- Consider an amendment to the Planned Unit Development for the south shore redevelopment to include the existing Hampton Inn & Suites and Green Mill restaurant.