After much time and effort, Isanti County is the first county in the state to have an accessory dwelling unit ordinance.

A public hearing was held on March 15, during the Isanti County Board meeting, in regard to the new accessory dwelling unit ordinance.

“I’m here to speak in support of the accessory dwelling unit. I really want to thank the task force and the county for all of their work on this,” Carol Ann Smith of Cambridge said. “I so strongly agree with the aging in place. In my father’s case, he did have some dementia and so to be in a familiar place for him was wonderful.”

The public expressed their opinions on the final draft of the ordinance and most were in favor. Eight residents of Isanti County spoke during the public hearing. Of the eight, only one was against the current state of the ordinance.

After discussion, the board unanimously passed the accessory dwelling unit ordinance.

Following the meeting, Isanti County Commissioner Susan Morris explained Isanti County made history.

“We are the first county to do this. A lot of cities have done this but why not more counties? There is a lot of space and land here to do it,” Morris said.

One Cambridge Township resident spoke against the ordinance.

“I think the comprehensive plan should be rewrote to reflect this ordinance. Cambridge Township is not against the humanitarian aspect of it. The temporary housing, I think something could be done to enhance that. Make it easier for people to have elderly or loved ones, but a permanent expansion of the density I believe is not in our interest in Cambridge Township,” Jim Fridstrom of Cambridge said. “This thing should be put on hold until the rest of it can catch up and be addressed all in one package rather than put something on top of what you’ve already got.”

After the public hearing closed, Morris spoke on behalf of the ordinance and all that went behind it.

“I don’t even know where to begin to start to thank our staff. When I came up with this idea, I went to Trina and told her like, hey, I think we need to look at a way to help our families take care of their loved ones by doing a concept of an accessory dwelling unit, and I just said would you support if we did a task force, and right away you said yes. And to Holly and to Tim Nelson,” Morris said. “Then the task force, we just had some amazing people.”

Morris mentioned she brought someone into the task force to make sure challenges were met.

“I knew Bruce (Mickleson of Cambridge) was going to be a tough cookie so I was like hey, I want you on that task force,

because he’s a smart man and I wanted all the hard questions asked in those task force meetings,” Morris said.

Morris was also able to speak briefly in regard to how the comprehensive plan was thought through during the task force meetings.

“For six months we tried to figure out how the comprehensive plan would work in the ordinance,” Morris said. “Finally I said look over the comprehensive plan before the next meeting. At the next meeting I gave everyone sticky notes to put in place to see if it fit. Ninety percent of those people agreed that it did fit.”

She also touch based on making the steps easier for families to apply for ADU’s.

“We wanted to eliminate and take out every barrier that they would go through,” Morris said. “Now all they need to do is apply for the building permit.”

Morris expressed that it was important to see this ordinance change and become more fitting for families in the county.

“Because the previous ordinance had, you had to have five acres. There was a ton of requirements and it didn’t serve most people and we had a particular family in our community and it didn’t fit for them and they got in trouble and I thought for crying out loud these people are just trying to care for their mom and dad and here we are threatening to take them to court. What the heck is wrong with our ordinances, we need to take care of our families,” Morris said.

Isanti County Commissioner Greg Anderson attended the task force meetings and did express how much hard work went into the ordinance during discussion after the public hearing.

“Everybody that’s made public comment, thank you. It’s great that you took the time to be here today,” Anderson said. “We spent many hours all of us (ADU task force). I know the staff has spent numerous hours making certain that an ordinance that’s presented has been one that we can say we have crossed the T’s and dotted the I’s.”

2022 Isanti County road construction

Spring is here and Isanti County is preparing for its spring and summer road construction projects.

County Highway Engineer Justin Bergerson presented the 2022 construction program review.

County Road 14 bridge will be replaced for a cost of $2 million. Pavement preservation will also be a part of the construction.

Listed are the 23 miles of the pavement preservation projects taking place this summer:

• County State Highway 15 to Highway 47, $528,000.

• Highway 47 to County State Highway 1, $372,000.

• County State Highway 1 to Flamingo Street, $357,000.

• County Road 41 to County State Highway 1, $72,000.

• Highway 47 to County State Highway 1, $980,000.

• County State Highway 12 to County State Highway 9, $687,000.

• Highway 65 to County Road 45, $977,000.

• S County Line to County State Highway 8, $550,000.

Also, 19.4 miles of seal coats will consist of County State Highways 7, 12 and 30 and County Roads 32, 45 56, 60 and 71 for a total cost of $400,000.

Isanti County construction projects will total $7.8 million. Funding will consist of:

• State aid, $2.3 million.

• Sales tax, $3.7 million.

• Local aid, $687,500.

• Federal aid, $164,880.

• Bridge bond, $917,625.

Isanti County residents have been wondering about road construction on County Road 5.

“The whole County Road 5 has been something folks have been waiting for a long, long time, so I think it would be important for you to explain the difficulties we’ve run into so we understand why it’s not going to happen this year,” Morris said.

Bergerson explained that project has been pushed to 2023.

“The County State Highway 5 reconstruction project from Highway 47 to County State Highway 10 was pushed to 2023 due to the right-of-way acquisition process not being complete. In order to proceed with the project, Isanti County must take title and possession of all lands for the highway right-of-way before construction can begin,” Bergerson said. “The domino effect continues as the project agreement involves federal funding requiring that clearing and grubbing operations must occur during the winter months, (Nov. 1, through March 31, inclusive) as a conservation measure protecting the habitat of the federally threated, endangered Northern long-eared bat. This puts the county in the position to unfortunately have to postpone the project until next year.”

The Isanti County Highway department will be sending out letters to residents informing them of the project update.

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