Murray County Board approves draft of buffer ordinance

SLAYTON — The Murray County Board approved the amended buffer ordinance as presented by Zoning/Environmental Administrator Jean Christoffels at its meeting Tuesday.

The board held a public hearing on the draft of the ordinance on Sept. 21. Following the public comment portion of the hearing, the commission also reviewed and incorporated comments and suggestions received from the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).

In addition to suggested changes, the BWSR letter indicated there was some confusion in one section, Compliance Determination of the ordinance, Christoffels said in her request for board action.

“The planning commission recommended approval of the draft document with minor changes and, with permission for county Attorney Smith and Zoning Administrator Christoffels to amend that section to better clarify the duties of the Soil and Water Conservation District and the ditch inspector with regards to compliance determinations,” she said.

The board approved of the ordinance as presented, with changes applied from the hearing, Christoffels said Thursday.

The ordinance says failure to comply requires a corrective action notice issued as a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days imprisonment and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Each day that a violation is permitted to exist shall constitute a separate offense.

Also, the county may and is empowered to issue citations for violations of the ordinance.

During the meeting, Russ Pilegaard asked the Murray County Planning Commission questions regarding the buffer ordinance. He wanted to know why the ordinance was coming through just now when the law was enacted nearly two years ago.

Planning Commissioner Kevin Vickerman said that the county elected to take on the enforcement because they know the residents and situations better than the state would. The process didn’t allow a faster timeline than what has occurred. He said that was due in part to counties waiting to see how much funding was available for enforcement.

Pilegaard also asked how much the county was getting paid by the state to enforce the buffer law? Commissioner Dave Thiner responded that a lump sum of $100,000 was the amount.