Sunday, January 29, 2023

County tables road standards

| February 2, 2006 11:00 PM

By BRENT SHRUM Western News Reporter

The Lincoln County Commissioners on Wednesday approved state-mandated changes in subdivision regulations regarding water and sanitation but tabled a local proposal for stricter road standards.

The changes that were approved are required under a new state law. They call for identification of water features on a preliminary plat and analysis of potential impacts to water quality. A new fee of $100 was also approved to cover the cost of the analysis.

By a 2-1 vote, the commissioners balked on tightening standards to require roads for all subdivisions to be built to specifications currently reserved for major subdivisions of more than five lots.

Under existing county regulations, primary roads serving major subdivisions must have a 60-foot easement with a 24-foot driving surface while secondary roads for minor subdivisions need only a 40-foot easement with a 20-foot driving surface. A planning department proposal called for all subdivision roads except driveways serving no more than two homes to be built to the primary road standard.

The proposed change is a big concern for many developers and property owners at the north end of the county, said Commissioner Marianne Roose. People are worried about not being able to further subdivide their property because of their inability to bring existing roads up to the new standard, she said. She suggested "grandfathering" existing subdivisions that might be split again in the future or leaving the issue to the not-yet-formed county planning board to decide.

Commissioner John argued in favor of approving the new standards for all subdivisions, pointing to access problems created by subsequent development of subdivisions served by secondary roads.

"If we do nothing, this problem continues to get worse," he said.

The commissioners discussed what would happen if someone wanted to subdivide a piece of property accessed via a 40-foot easement but could not get approval from adjacent property owners to expand the right of way. Assistant county planner Mary Klinkam said the developer in such a situation would most likely request a variance. After a public hearing, permission could be granted to allow the portion of the road not under the developer's control to remain below the new standard, she said.

Commissioner Rita Windom moved to approve the state-mandated changes and the new fee while leaving the road standards as they are now pending review by the planning board. She and Roose voted in favor of the motion while Konzen voted against. He said the commissioners would be just passing the issue along to another entity that will be less informed on the subject.

"I think we're going to continue to create the problem by letting this go," he said.