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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee has approved a variance for subdividing a property in the Town of New Haven that waives the requirement for 10,000 contiguous square feet two feet above the floodplain.
Mark and Renee Bartz own 160 acres in the Town of New Haven, which is unzoned, and have applied for a variance to create a 1.82 acre parcel to split off the house and buildings while the rest of the property would remain as farmland, said Tom Carlson, county surveyor, at the PR&D committee’s December 28 meeting.
The 1.82 acre parcel is partially in the 100 year floodplain of Bolen Creek, he said.
Dunn County’s land division ordinance (Chapter 16) requires 10,000 square feet of contiguous land that is at least two feet above the floodplain, and the proposed parcel contains no land that counts toward the 10,000 square feet, Carlson said.
According to a letter dated December 20 that was provided to the PR&D committee, Mark and Renee Bartz have owned the property since 1975.
The property is located along state Highway 64.
The property was non-conforming when Dunn County adopted the floodplain ordinance in October of 2011, so it is grandfathered in as a non-conforming property that cannot be modified, Carlson said.
If the parcel was over 20 acres, there would be no problem because it would not come under the provisions of the ordinance, but because it is less than 20 acres, a Certified Survey Map (CSM) is required, he said.
To comply with the land division ordinance’s requirement of 10,000 square feet at least two feet above the floodplain, the parcel would have to be much larger than 1.82 acres, resulting in a loss of productive farmland, Carlson said.
The staff analysis is that the proposed 1.82 acre parcel meets the requirement for a variance, and staff is recommending approval of the variance request, he said.
If the house and other buildings flood, it will not matter if the structures are on a two-acre parcel or a 200 acre parcel. The structures are already there and are non-conforming, Carlson said.
Splitting off the buildings on a 1.82 acre parcel is “wise” because it preserves productive farmland, he said.
According to the December 20 letter, Mark and Renee Bartz plan to sell the 1.82 acre parcel to their son.
When the property is sold, even if it is to a family member, how will the floodplain be acknowledged? asked Gary Bjork, county board supervisor from Colfax and a member of the PR&D committee.
A mortgage lender would require some kind of oversight, said Tom Quinn, county board supervisor from Downing and chair of the PR&D committee.
The mortgage lender is aware of the situation, said Renee Bartz.
Carlson noted that in his personal experience with purchasing property, a “flood check” is part of the mortgage application, but as for the conveyance document, there is no legal requirement to put information about a floodplain on a deed.
The buildings are already in existence, and approving the variance request will not change where the buildings are located, noted Dave Bartlett, county board supervisor from Boyceville and chair of the Dunn County Board.
Approving the variance request would keep the remaining agricultural land in production, Quinn said.
The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee unanimously approved the variance request from Mark and Renee Bartz to create a 1.82 acre parcel that does not have 10,000 contiguous square feet two feet above the floodplain.