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Planning Commission tripped up by ordinance

WORTHINGTON -- Weeks after the Nobles County Board of Commissioners voted not to accept a recommendation from the county's planning commission that would have allowed Mike Fogelman to operate a home-extended business in Seward Township, new detai...

WORTHINGTON - Weeks after the Nobles County Board of Commissioners voted not to  accept a recommendation from the county’s planning commission that would have allowed Mike Fogelman to operate a home-extended business in Seward Township, new details discovered last week made Fogelman’s permit request moot.

The planning commission overlooked one critical detail in Fogelman’s original permit request - the fact that he doesn’t actually live on the site where he wants to operate his business.

That detail halted any further discussions about the plans Fogelman has for the property, at least for now.

Fogelman, flanked by his wife and attorney, said in submitting the application for a permit in late November, his wife made it clear they did not yet reside on the site at 31344 130th St., in rural Fulda. However, she listed it as their home address on the application.

Mike Fogelman said he and his wife are fixing up the home and that contractors were to arrive this week. His plans were to occupy the home in July.

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“I just think this is quite unfair,” Fogelman told the commission. “My wife told her (Nobles County Planning and Zoning Administrator Kathy Henderschiedt) what was going on out there and because she doesn’t know the rules of the permit, I’m stuck hiring an attorney to come here tonight. I really don’t believe this is justice.”

Planning Commission Chairman John Penning said if the Fogelmans were living on the site at the first of the year, there would not have been an issue.

“We have to follow our statutes,” Penning said.

Nobles County Attorney Kathleen Kusz confirmed with Fogelman during Wednesday’s meeting that he still resides at an Okabena address.

“If there’s no residency and occupancy, there’s no satisfaction for a home occupation,” Kusz said. “The commission can’t act … if the minimum requirements of residency aren’t met in the first place.”

Kusz sought opinion from land use attorney Scott Anderson, hired by the county to assist with planning and zoning issues, and said it was Anderson’s recommendation the permit be denied.

“Once occupancy is established, the permit could be applied for again,” Kusz noted.

The Fogelmans had already paid $600 for the permit, leading their attorney, Paul Malone, to suggest a continuation of Wednesday’s hearing. In doing so, Fogelman had to sign a waiver essentially stating he agreed to a delay that could extend beyond 60 days.

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Henderschiedt said the Fogelmans will need to inform her of the date they establish home occupation at the rural Fulda site. Once they are moved in, a date for the continuation of the public hearing will be set.

“We would be living there already if we knew what was in the rules,” Fogelman said. “I thought if we were working on the property and planned to move there it was OK. Now we’re stuck dealing with the ramifications of it.”

“We made a mistake,” responded Penning.

“Everyone on the commission is responsible for knowing what that (ordinance) says,” added Kusz. “(When) John asked if you lived there and you said ‘no’, everyone should have picked up on it.”

Once Fogelman has moved to the Seward Township site, he will again appear before the commission for his original request - a conditional use permit to operate Mike’s Mini-Excavating at 31344 130th St., Fulda. His request seeks permission to stockpile rock, dirt, clay, asphalt and concrete at the location, as well as do asphalt and concrete crushing, operate an ag drainage business, resell ag drainage material, operate a subsurface sewage treatment system installation business and also apply household septage to MPCA-permitted land on the site.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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