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Completed survey allows work to proceed

The Pierce County Board has approved land descriptions that will allow the highway department to go ahead with reconstruction on CTH U.

A new bridge will be built after work begins this year. The county needs to buy right-of-way for the projects, but according to officials until the assessor's plat survey was completed, they didn't know who to buy the land from.

Design work began over three years ago, but early research found numerous errors in recorded property descriptions, said Highway Commissioner Ross Christopherson.

"It was in such poor shape that we couldn't even purchase right of way," he said. He said descriptions of some parcels overlapped and there were voids in other places.

When the county board discussed the problem in late 2005, Dale Hines, who chaired the highway committee then, said land descriptions in that part of the Town of Union, south of Plum City, were so poor they were useless.

He said in some cases descriptions started at a "point of beginning," but never came back to that point. The surveyor would have to go back to section markers and start over, said Hines.

The county arranged the survey work in the area and has gotten agreement from landowners, said Christopherson.

"The process has taken two years, and now everybody agrees," he said.

Part of the reason the old descriptions aren't accurate is a creek runs through the hilly land, said Supervisor Mel Pittman. Now with GPS equipment, surveyors can do more accurate work, he said.

Property owners there couldn't get mortgage insurance and now they can, said Christopherson.

County Treasurer Phyllis Beastrom, who formerly worked as the county's real property lister, said there are numerous areas in the same situation.

She predicted more and more owners will have to pay the cost of assessor's plat surveys because more and more purchasers need title insurance and they can't get it without updated, clear property descriptions.

The assessor's plat survey for CTH U work cost $68,000, with the county picking up about $14,000 and federal funds paying the rest.

Total cost of the project is about $1 million.

Zoning changes

Zoning law amendments to allow retreat centers as commercial uses and to require addresses be assigned to sites before building begins were adopted.

The changes involved amending two chapters of county code.

The one change would make retreat centers conditional uses allowed in many zoning districts as a commercial use.

These standards apply: Facilities can't be used by the non-participating public for meals or overnight accommodations; housing can be in lodges, cabins or dormitories; each housing structure may have one cooking facility; minimum lot size is two acres; and there must be one off-street parking space for each sleeping room.

The other amendment changes the county's code for numbering buildings and roads by requiring an owner be issued an address before any land use permit can be granted. When a person receives a driveway permit or access approval, the Land Management Department will assign, record and issue an address number.

The board approved these rezoning requests:

--The George Jacques Trust asked to rezone 20 acres in the Town of Clifton from General Rural Flexible-8 to Light Industrial. The property is along Hwy. 29-35.

Jacques wants to expand a Light Industrial district. According to the staff report, driveway access to the property will be moved and a new road will be built to allow further development of the land.

--Paul Larson asked to have six acres in the Town of Diamond Bluff rezoned from Industrial to Light Industrial.

The land is along Hwy. 35. Larson wants to have retail uses on land next to his established transfer station business. Land Management Administrator Andy Pichotta said Larson wants to open a flea market.