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County allows state lawmakers to maintain non-compliant structures

A member of the Minnesota House of Representatives built a structure that did not meet local building codes, violated a Cook County Land Services Department cease and desist order in 2021, and is still allowed to leave the building near the shore of Poplar Lake.

Republican State Representative Erik Mortensen made a final plea to keep his recently constructed building in place during a session of the Cook County Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

His requests worked.

The local Adaptation Committee voted 3: 2 for Mortensen to maintain his structure, despite numerous discussions in several meetings in which members of the Adaptation Committee openly admitted that the structure violated the district ordinances.

Mortensen of Shakopee bought a seasonal cabin in Cook County in October 2020. The property is at the far east end of Poplar Lake near the Gunflint Trail.

According to the land service, Mortensen failed to obtain the necessary permits to build a new building on his property near the lake shore. During the Adjustment Committee hearing on January 12, the initial consensus among the Adjustment Committee was that Mortensen failed to demonstrate “practical difficulties” or other reasons that enabled him to restrict the county’s zoning ordinances.

Chairman of the board, Jerry Hiniker, chaired the discussion, telling Mortensen, who attended the January 12 meeting, that he “can build the building, but you cannot build it anywhere.”

Less than an hour later, Hiniker voted to allow Mortensen to leave his structure where it stands.

According to Land Services Director Tim Nelson, “Construction of a so-called shed or bunkhouse began on their property sometime in the summer of 2021 and has since been given a cease-and-desist order for further construction. The placement of this structure violates the kickback distances to Poplar Lake.”

Nelson said in an email to WTIP last fall, Nelson said Mortensen and his wife Kari “believed that no permit would be required because the original size of the structure falls under the 160 square foot permit exemption”. , and stated that they were not aware that the structure still has to comply with the appropriate kickback distances. “

In an email to WTIP on Jan. 12, Nelson said the “concerted vote allowed the structure that was erected in its current location to be retained.”

Joe Friedrichs from WTIP spoke to Hiniker on January 13th about his vote to leave the structure, which does not comply with local building regulations, where it is. Audio below.


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