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Cass County Board: Foreclosures decline, new building increases in county

BACKUS--Cass County officials reported a continuation of declining property foreclosures and increased property sales, along with increasing new construction.

BACKUS-Cass County officials reported a continuation of declining property foreclosures and increased property sales, along with increasing new construction.

Assessor Mark Peterson reported seven foreclosures in the third quarter this year, compared with 12 in 2015, 21 in 2014 and 31 in 2013.

Six of the seven foreclosed properties were valued under $200,000. Five were cabins. Two were homesteaded.

Peak arm's-length property sales were 121 sold in August this year. Through September 2016, 757 properties sold. This compares with 716 in 2015.

Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported the county issued 844 land use permits for new buildings and sewer private systems through September this year. This compares with 779 last year.

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The number of variances declined from 79 the first three quarters of 2015 to 64 this year. Conditional use applications also declined-from 18 to 15.

Shoreland alteration permits showed the most significant drop - from 289 in 2015 to 153 this year. Ringle said that largely was due to light shoreline damage from ice in the spring this year.

"Cass County Environmental Services Department continues to meet the demand for services with two field staff and a shoreline specialist in addition to office staff," he said.

Ringle reported to the board that a survey from aerial photos and ground observations indicates few private property owners in Cass fail to meet the new standards for 16- or 50-foot separation between tillage farm crops and waterways.

"We don't have a lot of row crop agriculture going up to waterways," he said.

In most agricultural areas of this county, he said, there are perennial grasses or marshland grasses abutting the county's waterways.

The county board will have to decide by March 2017 whether to enforce the state buffer law requirements here or have the state do so.

Ringle also informed the board about a proposal for Cass and Hubbard counties to jointly, with their Soil and Water Conservation District, develop a Leech Lake River watershed plan. It could help the county to receive some future grants, he said.

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Commissioner Neal Gaalswyk questioned whether this water plan, which would supersede the county's existing water plan, could cause the county to lose some of its local control over its water resource management.

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