‘Granny pods,’ buffers and coordinators discussed at Todd County work session
ut they are not something out of a sci-fi movie - like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” - where an evil alien replaces your beloved grandma with an alien version of her.
No, they are little backyard living spaces for people for whom a care center or other facility is not a feasible option. Also called Medcottages (one of the manufacturers of the “Granny Pods”), these small homes have been causing quite a bit of discussion lately.
The new “Granny Pod” law takes effect Sept. 1, but cities and counties have an option to “opt out” and reject the statute. Todd County Commissioners discussed the option at a July 19 work session.
The homes are designed around 240 square feet and allow families and other caregivers who provide temporary healthcare to seniors or other family members a close alternative. In other words, “granny” would live in the small backyard home.
However, the new statute defining the permitted use of these residential drop homes have been causing some issues.
These drop homes do not include recreational vehicles and can be up to 300 square feet in size. They cannot be attached to a permanent foundation, but are allowed to hook into the main home’s water/sewer and electricity.
According to Planning and Zoning Director Tim Stieber, the homes cause some zoning issues.
The permits for these homes are good for six months and are renewable.
Commissioner Rod Erickson said that he sees no need for the statute and felt the county could opt out.
Stieber said he would likely be bringing in a resolution soon during a regular board meeting.
Commissioner David Kircher asked if they could opt back in, if they were to choose to opt out now. Stieber will check on that and also see what other counties are doing.
Stieber also spoke to the board about the buffer program in the county.
A buffer is vegetated land adjacent to a stream, river, lake, drainage ditch or wetland.
The county began working with the buffer program in September 2015. Stieber said that soil and water were now working on implementing it.
He said that about 74 percent are currently compliant with the state’s rules for parcels which are on public waters.
nce with the state rules is happening on parcels adjacent to public ditches.
Stieber also offered a time-frame for the county. He said that by March 1, 2017, the county had to indicate their enforcement intentions to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).
The county will need to amend its ordinances to match the state buffer rules and full implementation, including enforcement, will begin Nov. 1, 2017.
Stieber said they would be concentrating on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources determined protected waters at this time.
The county has 2,726 parcels which are on public waters and 1,542 parcels located on public ditches.
Kircher said that the Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus had also talked extensively about the buffering issue.
They talked a little about the map and Stieber said that the correction requests that have been made to the DNR have not been made to the map.
Four applicants were interviewed. Commissioner Rod Erickson said that they felt one was a strong candidate.
County Attorney Chuck Rasmussen said that the person had a strong background in human resources which is what they were looking for.
“We were impressed. I believe this person would be a good fit for this county,” said Rasmussen.
All of the references have checked out well.
The consensus of the interviewing committee was that they should move on hiring this applicant as soon as possible.
Commissioner Randy Neumann said that in the past, the whole board has interviewed the applicants.
Kircher said that was true, but that he didn’t think they needed to do that - to repeat the interview process - and make it appear like they didn’t know what they were doing.
He said that throughout this process they have done things not like they have done before.
It will be four weeks before the person can start working for the county.
“We have waited too long to do this. I’m trusting you (the interview committee)that it is a good fit. If not, you will be hearing from me,” said Kircher.
Neumann agreed that he trusted the judgement of the six or seven people who did the interviews.
Although no decision could be made at the work session, the consensus was that the board would bring action to hire the applicant at the Aug. 2 meeting if she accepted the proposal.