Waseca Recycling Center

The Waseca Solid Waste/Recycling facility is closer to seeing progress after a fire destroyed the recycling building, plus part of a tipping floor and a compactor inside. (County News file photo)

Shoreland impervious surface rules in Waseca County are stronger than state rules, and staff is interested in changing that.

The Waseca County Board of Commissioners was presented the current shoreland impervious surfaces rules by Planning and Zoning Administrator Mark Leiferman. The current code was put in place in 2009 and placed greater impervious surface coverage restrictions on property owners than the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources requires in certain instances. The MNDNR allows cities and counties impervious coverage of up to 25 percent of a lot and the Waseca County Code only allows 20 percent impervious surface coverage according to a memorandum in the commissioners agenda.

Impervious surface are artificial surfaces made of impenetrable material, such as asphalt, concrete, brick and stone. The county’s rule means that 80 percent of any shoreland lots must be natural surfaces, like grass. The state, however, only requires 75 percent.

“This got brought to my attention last year, and I wanted to bring it in front of us,” Commissioner Doug Christopherson said. “It didn’t make sense to me why we were more restrictive than the state.”

The commissioners were in agreement that the county should be modeled after the state or at least closer to the direction of state rules.

“Any code changes that go with shoreline overlay, we do have to send it to the state for approval,” Leiferman said.

Waseca County Planning staff and the Planning Commission will review the UDC code requirements.

Recycling center update

Also present at the meeting was Solid Waste Director Georgette Hanson from the recycling center outside of Waseca.

A devastating fire roared through the recycling center in late December 2018, destroying the recycling building, plus part of a tipping floor and a compactor inside. A week after the fire destroyed the facility a temporary facility was set up at the county fairgrounds. In May 2019, the Solid Waste/Recycling Center was reopened in its original location, though not at full capacity.

Hanson and County Administrator Jessica Beyer are working together, along with team members, to design the new building that will replace the one that was destroyed in the fire.

Hanson has numerous ideas of how she would like to see the inside of the building setup, though she will have the same amount of space as the last building. Some of the ideas came from visiting other facilities in surrounding counties.

“We literally sat down with tissue paper and markers and the staff and I put our heads together,” Hanson said. “This is what we have to work with, because we can’t change the footprint, but what can we do to make it more visible, safe and public friendly?”

In the previous building, there was never a safe room, for tornadoes and such. In the new building, the break room could potentially serve as this safe room to fit 10 to 15 people.

“At this point, we have the new bunker that wasn’t there for the tornado bunker and Denise (Wright, Emergency Management Director) has been looking at some grants, and this can be added on to the design now instead of an addition to the building,” Beyer said.

There has been some setbacks.

The company that makes the compactor ordered by the county went out of business. The county went through a third party to purchase the machine and is trying to get all of the money refunded.

“We’re working through those (setbacks), and at this point, we’re just excited to get some concepts with the design …,” Beyer said.

The compactor has to stay in the same location as before and is not negotiable.

“As soon as we get the ballpark numbers we can insert those into the contract,” Beyer said. “Georgette has done a fantastic job in working with the contractors.” County Attorney Rachel Cornelius’ office has a pretty blank contract that will be used when a contractor is hired.

“Keep forging ahead and get your money in hand,” Commissioner Brian Harguth said.

“We appreciate your persistence, and you’re cheerful persistence, because we know it’s a tough job,” Commissioner DeAnne Malterer said.

Reach Reporter Bailey Grubish at 507-837-5451 or follow her on Twitter @wcnbailey.

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