A property owner in the Red Mike area will be allowed to subdivide his property into three lots smaller than 3/4 of an acre without first running the matter through the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The request for the subdivision variance was on the agenda for Tuesday’s regular session of the Williams County Commission.

Sam Henderson, planning official for Williams County, told commissioners that he had met with the property owners to discuss subdivision of the lot, which was created in the 1970s, before the county had implemented its current zoning classifications.

The property in question is considered a legally non-conforming lot, Williams County Senior Planner Sam Henderson explained. “Unless something changes. And dividing this lot into three would constitute a change.”

To make any changes, the property needs to be brought into compliance with current zoning ordinances, which require urban residential lots to be at least one acre in size if rural water is available, or 2 acres if not.

An additional complication is that the urban residential classification also requires that the lots be near a neighborhood that is within an existing municipality. This is to ensure that future water and sewer services are going to be provided to the lots.

The properties already have water services and a septic system. There is also a subdivision variance that allows smaller lots within the classification, which is what Henderson recommended the brothers seek.

In the usual process, the matter would go before the planning and zoning commission at their next meeting, which would be July 18. After that, it would return to County Commissioners in August, with planning and zoning’s recommendations for either approval or denial.

“That is the process we talked about with Mr. Sheldon,” Henderson said.

Wires were evidently crossed, however, Henderson added, because he received documents from the surveyor referencing a meeting this week, and then the item appeared on the regular commission meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner Barry Ramberg said he was the reason the request was on the agenda for Tuesday. He had also talked to the brothers about finding out what they needed to do, and had them ask to be placed on the agenda.

Williams County Commissioner David Montgomery asked if the variance could be granted Tuesday.

“Karen (Prout) might be able to address that,” Henderson said. “But there is a process laid out. I also know the board is empowered to make decisions.”

Prout is Williams County’s attorney. She told commissioners they could approve the variance today, but that it wouldn’t be her recommendation.

“The planning and zoning process allows notice for neighbors and allows public input,” she pointed out.

Bill Sheldon said the lots in question all belong to family members.

“We are trying to be as accommodating as we can be,” Montgomery said. “The same thing we are addressing today is the same thing next month, so why not handle it today?”

Prout replied that the commissioners could do that, but would need to make certain findings, among them that there is some kind of hardship the regulation causes that is unique to the situation.

“I guess I would not recommend it,” she said. “Sam has already laid out the process.”

Ultimately, however, the short construction season, and the fact that the properties were created prior to the county’s zoning ordinances won out with commissioners, who approved the waiver unanimously.

Error on a plat

Another unusual situation County Commissioners dealt with on Tuesday was an error on a plat in West Prairie Estates. Charles Camp, representing the owner of sublot 3 in that area, told County Commissioners that one plat somehow got recorded over the top of sublot 3, which is the senior plat.

“We cannot get any action on this without someone empowering changes to the plat,” he said.

West Prairie Estate’s owners are aware of the situation, Camp said. “They made an offer to purchase that was unacceptable.”

The surveyor of record, meanwhile, has let his license lapse, and cannot be located.

Prout explained that the county is involved in the matter mainly because they adjudicate the recording of plats.

The more usual process for resolving the issue would be to have the original surveyor file an affidavit. If that is not possible, a resolution process, which would include public notice, is another possible approach. The county can also direct the county surveyor to handle the matter.

Williams County Surveyor Pat Beebe said that if any lots in the area are sold, the new owners would have to agree to the plat changes, similar to the situation at Muddy Valley, where a survey line was found to be incorrect.

Commissioners directed Beebe to work on the matter to resolve it, and directed Development Services not to issue any building permits on the properties in question until the matter is resolved.

On other matters commissioners:

• Approved a conditional use permit for a second dwelling on a 9-acre parcel in Pleasant Valley Township, requested by Shawn Martin.

• Approved a zone change and comprehensive plan amendment for 5 acres in Wheelock from agriculture to light industrial for a rental equipment company, requested by Kevin Perdue.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a high voltage transmission line through Round Prairie, Buford and Hardscrabble Township, as well as a variance to place the towers for the line 100 feet from the centerline of County Road 5. The request was from Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Cooperative. 

• Added provisions for zoning real property around the Williston Basin International Airport (XWA) to its zoning ordinance, as well as the Joint Powers Agreement between Williams County and Williston for overseeing that area. The changes were requested by Williams County Planning and Zoning staff.

• Approved a conditional use permit for a gas plant in Judson Township, as requested by Jon Aisenbrey of Nesson Gathering, a subsidiary of XTO.

• Approved a letter of support for Eckert Youth Home, which is seeking to expand its services to accommodate family treatment. Adding adult services will require them to seek a special use permit with Williston.

• Suspended the liquor license for the 4-mile Bar, which was closed down for inability to pay its sales and use tax permit. The license will be reinstated if and when the business satisfies its financial obligations with the state.

• Rejected a bid, at the request of the city of Tioga, for a traffic signal. The city had already rejected the bid, but wanted Williams County to do so as well.

• Approved signing a disclaimer on a matter related to mineral rights for land the county used to own, but doesn’t any more. Continental is the other party involved in the matter.

• Appointed Joleen Tinker to the Coordinated Regional Interoperability Board, and selected Derrick Walker as the alternate representative.

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