Board hears request out of Lake Arrowhead
The Clinton County Planning and Zoning Board of Adjustments spent Friday evening, October 11, listening to request for a zoning variance from Stony and Jamie Martin, who own five lots in the Lake Arrowhead area. They want to place a manufactured home on the adjoined lots. There were at least 25 people in attendance, all supportive of the Martins’ request. There was no opposition expressed during the meeting.
The couple, wanting to live in Lake Arrowhead upon retirement, ran into a problem because the residential zoning codes were changed earlier in 2019, requiring a minimum of five acres for a home to be built or placed.
According to Planning and Zoning Administrator Elle Stoneridge, the couple appeared before the Clinton County Commissioners in late August or early September to see about their request to place a manufactured home on the lots they had purchased, but were told the minimum amount of land required was five acres, and they would need to go before the zoning board of adjustments to plead their case and get a variance.
The Martins contend they were originally told by both Stoneridge and the previous zoning administrator Tina Adair that they needed five lots to build or place a manufactured home on. That is why they purchased two additional lots connected to their original three lots. Stoneridge confirmed that when she spoke with Mrs. Martin in early August she did indeed say five lots, but within a couple weeks realized her mistake and tried to contact the Martins. She left a message telling them of her mistake – that five acres were needed, not five lots. Mrs. Stoneridge became the administrator in August.
Lake Arrowhead was originally developed as a planned district with lots designed for recreational and weekend camping, not permanent homes. Last December, the zoning board held a public hearing at Plattsburg High School and for more than two hours listened to both proponents and opponents about possibly rezoning the lake from a planned district to residential. This public hearing was requested by the Clinton County Commission, not by landowners or residents of the lake. Residents on both sides were very passionate about their respective positions on rezoning. Ultimately, the zoning board voted to send the request back to the commission for additional consideration.
Sometime this past January, the county commission voted to rezone the lake to residential with no further hearings or meetings of which the residents were aware.
This is where the Martins’ issue appeared. Residential rezoning requires a minimum of five acres in order to build or place a home. In the lake area, the average lot size would require at least 20 lots in order to have the necessary five acres before a home could be built or placed on the property and have an acceptable septic system. The Martins’ five lots totaled just more than one acre.
Board Chairman John Kilgore opened the adjustment hearing by going over the rules, but he also added that this request would set a precedent for residential rezoning, and the job of the board is to ensure that no harm would be done to other properties in the area or the county, in general.
Many of the residents attending the meeting wished to address the board, and all voiced support of the Martins’ request for the variance. A number of those who spoke stated the Martins were good people and kept their lots in good shape and they were the type of people they wanted to see move into the area. At least two stated they lived in Lake Arrowhead full time, had approved septic systems and had encountered no issues with their systems (it should be noted that these properties were grandfathered in because they were built prior to the new zoning designation to residential earlier in the year).
Several board members expressed concerns, one being that it would set a precedent, and second there was no morphology report (required) to be considered.
Mr. Martin addressed the concern regarding the morphology reports and stated he did not want to throw good money after bad and if they were not granted a variance, he did not want to spend the $2,000 or so required to get the study done.
“If we send your request to the commissioners with our recommendation for approval, will you get a morphology test done and will you comply with that recommendation even if it requires one of the most expensive septic systems, known as a drip system which can cost as much as $20,000?” asked Kilgore.
Both Martins agreed and reiterated that they wished to establish their retirement home on these lots and retire in Lake Arrowhead. After nearly an hour and a half of public input and board discussion, the board voted to approve the Martins’ variance request with the stipulation that it would be rescinded if the Martins did not get a morphology test done and comply with the results of that finding.
More than one board member expressed the opinion that the lake’s homeowners’ association needed to consider strongly incorporating the area into a town or village so they could better control their own destinies.
After the vote to send the Martins’ request to the commissioners with the recommendation for approval, the crowd applauded and cheered loudly and the Martins both thanked all five board members personally for their decision.