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Cost of aquatic invasive species inspection aired at Cass meeting

WALKER - Environmental Services Director John Ringle reported Tuesday the department spent $20,443 of the $22,680 land associations contributed this year to inspect boats for aquatic invasive species (AIS) and educate people about preventing AIS spread..

The board approved a budget Tuesday for the $222,000 the Legislature authorized for Cass to fight AIS.

The budget calls for spending $27,000 to contract with more trained inspectors at $14 per hour, $22,500 for enforcement, $32,000 to buy four decontamination units, $20,000 for educational efforts, $50,000 for lake association specific projects and leaves $70,500 in a contingency fund.

Cass is scheduled to receive over $500,000 in 2015.

Ringle said the trained inspectors working this summer have stopped two watercraft about to enter Ten Mile Lake on separate occasions. They had zebra mussels on them. Inspectors sent the watercraft owners to a decontamination site before approving them to launch on the lake.

Stephanie Shearen, who has been overseeing the inspection program, reported inspectors have checked 230 watercraft so far this summer and found 19 had their drain plug in rather than opened. Four had aquatic plants removed by hand. Twenty-six came to uninfested lakes from infested waters.

There are 10 trained inspectors in the county at this time. They work at 17 public landings. Any inspector can send a boater to a decontamination site.

If the boater objects, inspectors cannot enforce laws, but are instructed to call law enforcement to prevent entry to the lake until after the watercraft has been decontaminated.

Cass commissioners will hold a public hearing at the 6 p.m. regular board meeting Aug. 19 at the Longville Fire Hall on County State Aid Highway 5 before considering adoption of zoning ordinance changes.

If there is no expansion of a building footprint, alterations to or replacement of a non-conforming building will be allowed without a variance under proposed amendments. Additions to a non-conforming building or a walk-out basement would still require a variance.

Guest quarters may not be expanded.

Another proposed amendment would allow people to have a limited number of small animals such as rabbits or chickens as pets in the shoreland zone. Wild or exotic animals are not permitted.

One to six farm animal units would be allowed on non-riparian shoreland district acreages, depending on the size of the acreage.

Use of mechanized equipment on bluff zones would be prohibited.

Subdividing a lot into two lots when both new lots are conforming size would be allowed without platting and could be done with certificate of survey.

Ringle obtained board approval Tuesday to spend $7,000 for repairs to seven commercial overhead garage doors at the county solid waste transfer station north of Pine River.

He reported zoning permits for new private sewer systems have been lower this year due to the extended winter and wet summer, limiting the number of days contractors have been able to work.

Land use permits for new construction of buildings and sewer systems ran highest between April 1 and June 30 in the following townships: Woodrow, 24; Shingobee 21; and Sylvan, 20.