After listening to recommendations from a committee, the Hill County Park Board Monday approved creating a waiver process to let cabin owners in Beaver Creek Park who have outbuildings out of compliance with park regulations justify why their buildings should remain.
The board created the committee in January to look at issues including whether any fees should be increased, how the park should handle dogs and leashes, and what to do about cabins where owners had erected more than the one-allowed outbuilding.
In February the board approved a rule that dogs inside a fence at a cabin, or in tents, recreational vehicles or other vehicles do not need to be on a leash, but must be on a leash if they are on park property outside of those areas.
Monday, it approved creating a waiver process on outbuildings, with an annual fee and a built-in sunset clause.
Board member Robbie Lucke, a member of the committee, said deciding how to handle outbuildings was a tough discussion.
The park policy was written with the intent of maintaining a rural, rustic nature on the park, and allows only one outbuilding per cabin.
The committee’s recommendation was to allow people to apply for waivers on a case-by-case basis.
Lucke said that previous issues had been handled by grandfathering in some cases, banning future noncompliance but allowing exemptions for existing cases of park rule violations, but that leaves no written record or consistent policy.
He said the committee agreed to recommend using waivers, which would have to be approved by the park board and then would be on file.
One committee member disagreed, saying anyone with outbuildings out of compliance should have to remove them, Lucke said, but the majority of the committee agreed that it should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
“It seemed like a way to solve this problem that is more fair and kindly,” he said, adding that he assumes the board would not grant such a waiver easily.
“All this is is another tool in the toolbox,” Lucke said. “If we need to use it it’s there. I don’t think we need to use it often.”
The board extensively debated how such waivers should be handled, including whether fees should be charged and how long the waiver should last.
The board first passed the procedure of approving waivers for outbuildings.
It then separately approved charging $50 a year for waivers it approved, and then continued the debate of how long the waivers should last.
Board member Dave Wilson said he thinks 10 years was too long a sunset period, but that he agreed there could be extenuating circumstances that might justify a longer period for some outbuildings.
Board member Larry Kinsella suggested tying the waivers to the idea of having a three-year fee schedule.
Board member Mel Gomke suggested a five-year period on the waivers.
Kinsella said that also could tie into the three-year period — if the last fee increase is set as the first three years with two remaining, then five years would fall at the end of the next three-year period.
The board approved setting the sunset period for five years, and that it would notify the cabin owners known to be out of compliance they must either remove the extra buildings or come in to apply for a waiver.