Building on lakeshore property can be tricky

Cody and Catherine Johnson have been struggling with zoning regulations pertaining to their substandard-size lot located on the west shore of Lake Sarah. It took some negotiations to make it possible for the Johnsons to legally locate a new home on a 0.68-acre lot at 4545 Shady Beach Circle.

Part of the problem is that their lot is located on a point on Lake Sarah, and the lake wraps around two sides of the property. Required setbacks from the lake’s ordinary high water level and the side yard have left them with a small buildable area that is 25 feet at the widest point and 15 feet at the narrowest point.

The Johnsons worked with their builder, the city of Independence, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and neighbors on both sides to come up with variance arrangements that were agreeable to all parties.

Things came together for the Johnsons at the Tuesday, May 27 Independence City Council meeting. The council approved a 20-foot variance from zoning regulations that allows them to build their home no closer than 40 feet from the ordinary high water level of Lake Sarah. The council also approved a 6-foot variance  allowing them to build the structure no closer than 12 feet from the west side yard property line.

Independence is requiring the Johnsons to install a non-mowed vegetative buffer or rain garden to mitigate water run-off from the proposed home to the lake. The city’s water resources consultant will review a plan for this feature, as will the DNR. Once the DNR approves the plan, the Johnsons will be able to get their building permit.

The proposed home is in the rural residential zoning district that is served by municipal sanitary sewers. So the Johnsons will not have to find room for a septic tank on their property. They are required to hook up to the sewer.



The City Council also:

APPROVED a request from Brent Visser to allow an existing home to remain and be occupied while a new home is being built at 361 Game Farm Road. The current home must be demolished and removed within 90 days of either issuance of a certificate of occupancy for the new home or a determination by the city building official that the new home has been completed.

APPROVED the purchase of a one and a half ton truck with trade-in at a cost of $67,048.

APPROVED installation of a blacktop floor in the salt shed and apron for the Public Works Department at a cost of $30,000.