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Tiny houses and the rules

County Board asked to consider variance for tiny home in Florid

HENNEPIN — Tiny homes have become very popular throughout the nation, but while small, they’re still subject to zoning ordinances.

During the May 8 Putnam County Board meeting, Florid resident Ellen Dunn and her family members were hoping to hear a decision on their request for a zoning variance, or a new ordinance, to be passed accommodating small structures such as the one they have.

The variance request concerned a tiny structure which was placed on the six-acre property without permits or the associated inspections. Built out-of-state and based on a trailer, the small structure is connected to utilities and also has a floating deck built around it.

The family said it was placed there to accommodate visiting family during weekends and holidays and had been in place for approximately 10 months before county zoning officer Jim Burger first saw the structure.

Saying he noticed the new wood of the deck while driving past the property, Burger then inspected the structure and determined it doesn’t meet any of the requirements of local zoning ordinances.

Board member Duane Calbow asked the family if they had looked into local zoning codes or followed any of the required procedures for new construction prior to the installation of the structure, and they admitted they hadn’t because they assumed there weren’t any.

Board chairman Steve Malavolti told the family a decision wouldn’t be made until the following meeting, since the issue wasn’t on the agenda. He added, however, the county would likely have to consider adding or altering ordinances because of the increasing popularity of small structures and said many municipalities are having to do the same.


County highway engineer Pat Sloan said the work to widen Power Plant Road had been completed, and paving would soon begin.

The county will be receiving $65,000 from the state to help pay for the first phase of engineering design work on the Bottom Road project. Sloan also said he sent engineers a video of the flood waters flowing around the bridge, so they could use it to aid in their design work.

Both Sloan and EMA coordinator Bob Cofoid reported some flooding in different areas throughout the county but said it wasn’t as bad as had been predicted.

Sloan also presented information about the recent electronics collection event held in Toluca. He said there was about two-thirds of what they had collected during the previous collection last fall and estimated about 25 to 30 percent of the 200 vehicles at the event were from Putnam County.

B-P Enterprise Zone resolution

The board tabled the decision to vote on the B-P Enterprise resolution while the language is clarified. Questions remain about how the abatement resolution and extension is worded and the possible legal liability it could pose to the county.

Audit review

Kim Bird of Arch Hopkins & Associates presented a review of the county’s yearly audit. She said the county benefited from having no debt and strong cash reserves. She also said it would be prudent for the county to address recent deficit spending now because the current financial condition of the state is unlikely to improve. She added while cutting expenses is difficult, she expected it would be even more difficult in the future to increase revenue.

In other board news:

• The board approved Joseph Ellena to be reappointed as a trustee of the Standard Fire Protection District.

• The board also approved the appointment of Kathy Carr to the Magnolia Cemetery Board.

• The board approved the ordinance ascertaining the prevailing wage rates for the county.

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