4/5/2018 7:59:00 AM Cass County Board: County website soon to offer more information, options
MONICA LUNDQUIST Cass County Correspondent
WALKER-Everyone soon will be able to get any public information Cass County has about each land parcel in the county on its website at www.co.cass.mn.us.
Any landowner also will be able to get all zoning permit forms online and fill out their new application to file in person, by mail or online.
Zoning permits still must be accompanied by application fees due, so the fee should either be paid ahead of emailing, separately by credit card elsewhere on the website or paid with the mailed or in-person application presentation. Payment is required with applications.
Applicants will be able to sign digitally or scan a printed signed copy, then save before submitting online. Site drawings can be scanned and attached before submitting.
Jessica Watts of the Cass management information systems department made a presentation to the Cass County Board Tuesday following the board's regular meeting about how technology the county already owns can be used more consistently and fully to enhance public use of county information.
She recently was given an assignment to look into environmental services department technology needs and into improving consistency in how the public and ESD staff interact.
All the information improvements are being added daily and will be complete in about two weeks, Watts said.
"There's a lot of functionality in what we already have," she said of the technology systems Cass already owns.
Watts started by better organizing the ESD portion of the Cass website. More answers are now available there, saving the public time it takes to call ESD with questions. More information is being added.
Not only can the public view and print or save the countywide zoning ordinance and now complete their zoning permit applications online, but they can view planning commission agendas and commission members' meeting information packets.
People buying and selling properties will be able to enter the parcel number through the mapping system to get the history of all prior zoning permits or violations orders for the property. They will be able to get the current year assessor card information used to determine the property's value.
Information for a historic title search, plus deed transfers will be available.
"We want to enhance the 'buyer beware' information," Administrator Joshua Stevenson said.
If someone witnesses what they think is a violation of Cass zoning ordinances, they can fill out an online "Public Concern Form." They must sign it, but the complainant's name will remain private information and will not be available to the public.
ESD staff will inspect the sited property. If they determine it is a violation, the ESD employee may then post a uniform "Stop Work Order" card on the property before it is processed for remediation.
Planning commission agendas and commissioner packets will be available online prior to each meeting. Watts said this packet availability may be expanded to additional county board-appointed committees.
"If we can streamline functionality electronically, we can maybe not have to add staff," Stevenson said.
In other county board business Tuesday:
Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane reported to the county board the high number of county employee retirements in the last two years have drawn down the county's money set aside to pay unused vacation time and sick leave when people retire from 90 percent funded to 80 percent funded.
For this reason the board approved her recommendation to use $271,200 of the county's fund balance at the end of 2017 to bring that set-aside back up to 90 percent funded.
County Engineer Darrick Anderson obtained board approval to sign agreements with two pipeline companies to repair county roads they have used or will use to transport pipes in and out of storage yards.
Targa NGL Pipeline Company purchased pipes Enbridge stored in Powers Township, northeast of Backus, when Enbridge decided not to continue its request for the Sandpiper pipeline through central Cass County.
The new agreement obligates Targa to pay Cass $7,000 to restore County Road 117 from the storage yard to County Highway 45 and County Highway 45 from its junction with County Road 117 to Highway 371. They are to suspend operations during spring load limits.
Enbridge will pay Cass $10,000 for repairs on county roads at a location in Unorganized Township at the north end of the county for any damage done to Six Mile Lake Road and County Highway 8 from the valve site access north to U.S. Highway 2.
They will be required to suspend operations during spring load limits or provide the county with a $150,000 performance bond.
Land Commissioner Kirk Titus obtained board approval to pay Minnesota Department of Natural Resources $30,000 and provide $10,000 worth of in-kind field data collection for the DNR to provide the county an updated electronic database to use in the county forest management plan.
Planning for this project began in 2015 and is just getting underway in 2018.
Central Services Director Tim Richardson obtained board approval to repair two vaporizers and replace a third one.
When the county bought three 18,000-gallon propane storage tanks from the state property at Ah-Gwah-Ching, two were place at the courthouse and the third at the highway garage in Walker.
The vaporizers are used to heat the larger-than-average tanks in cold weather sufficiently to keep the propane flowing from the tanks to the county furnaces. The county was not aware the vaporizers needed annual servicing.
The board approved spending up to $5,559 for one new one and up to $1,750 to repair the other two. Richardson said he will set up an annual contract to have them serviced in the future.
He also obtained board approval to replace the concrete slab and fencing around the recycle bin collection site at Backus, which has been repaired numerous times.
Danny's Masonry submitted the low bid of $13,200 for the 6-inch, 40-by-60-foot cement slab with rebar set 2 feet on center. Oberg Fencing won the contract with a $3,809 bid to construct a 6-foot high chain link fence around three sides of the slab.
The county board referred to the planning commission for a public hearing a request from Nancy Loren to reclassify her property in Wabedo Township from shoreland residential to water oriented commercial.
Hackensack American Legion Auxiliary donated $500 for the veteran transportation program and $500 for veteran medical supplies.
The board approved out-of-state travel for Nicole Davis, county social worker, to attend a seminar on a multi-disciplinary approach to child maltreatment in May at Fargo, N.D.
Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.