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Expansion option for nonconforming structures to expire this year

Crow Wing County is reminding property owners that this year is the time to complete planned expansions to nonconforming structures without the requirement of obtaining a variance.

The county’s current land use regulations allow a one-time 50 percent expansion of nonconforming structures — structures that do not meet current zoning requirements, such as setbacks from water or other “grandfathered” zoning requirements. Such structures may be expanded once by up to 50 percent without the need for a variance, but this allowance will expire on Dec. 31.

According to Land Services Department Supervisor Chris Pence: “Landowners who have not yet taken advantage of this one-time 50 percent expansion opportunity to expand the old cabin or other nonconforming structures should be aware that the window is closing. Permits to perform such expansions must be approved by the county in 2012. After that, a variance will be required to expand a nonconforming structure in Crow Wing County.”

Current law allows a legally nonconforming structure to be increased one time by up to 50 percent of the current footprint as long as the expansion does not encroach any closer to the lake or other appropriate setbacks, is not located in shore impact zone one, and the structure was built prior to land use regulations (1970). However, this provision sunsets at the end of 2012, and thereafter, expansions of nonconforming structures in Crow Wing County will require a variance. Property owners have until Dec. 31 to receive an approved permit from the county for these expansions. The approved permit is then valid for two years, during which the construction must be completed.

For more information, contact the Environmental Services Office at 824-1125 or or go online to

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
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