The following information is a summary of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District (“LMCD”) variance requirements and process that you may find helpful. However, it is just a guideline and is subject to change. All variance requests are subject to the procedures, requirements, and limitations of the LMCD Code.
What is a Variance
A variance is a request to deviate from one or more of the requirements of the Lake Minnetonka Conservation District Code of Ordinances (“Code”). Section 1.07 of the Code outlines the variance process and requirements. A variance is a limited tool available to address unique situations where the strict application of the Code creates practical difficulties of the conditions unique to the property. The LMCD cannot grant a variance to allow something that is not otherwise allowed under the Code.
Eligibility for a Variance
A variance from the requirements of the Code can only be granted where practical difficulties occur or where necessary to provide access to persons with disabilities, and then only if granting the variance, with whatever conditions the LMCD Board of Directors (“Board”) may impose, does not adversely affect the purposes of the Code, the public health, safety, and welfare, and reasonable access to or use of the Lake by the public and riparian owners.
The applicant must demonstrate the existence of sufficient practical difficulties to allow the granting of the requested variance. For the purposes of the Code, “practical difficulties” means one or more unique conditions of a property that prevent the property owner from using the Lake in a reasonable manner permitted by the Code. Practical difficulties only exist with respect to a particular property if the conditions preventing the proposed reasonable use of the property are unique to the property, were not created by the property owner, and are not based solely on economic considerations.
The process to request a variance starts with the submission of a complete application to the LMCD. Incomplete/invalid applications, or those that are not accompanied by the required application fee and escrow, will not be processed. The link to the variance application can be found on the LMCD website at lmcd.org, under “Applications” or specifically at this link. It is important that the applicant to set out in the application the practical difficulties that justify the requested variance.
Every variance is site specific and there may be instances where one or more neighboring owners apply as co-applicants mutually seeking a variance to ensure reasonable, safe, and equitable access to the Lake.
Attachments are required when completing the application such as a to-scale site plan of your shoreline and proposed dock structure. The site plan should include the following:
- Property owner
- Property address/location
- Documented 929.4 ft shoreline and respective total measurement
- North direction
- Extended side site lines on both sides of the property
- Scaled drawing of dock structure and conforming setback measurements from both side extended side property lines
- 100 ft measurement into the lake from 929.4 OHW
- Water level readings (if shallow water will be of concern)
- Scaled drawing of abutting docks at adjacent properties indicating effect of the variance request
- Any utilities, environmental features, unique characteristics of the dock use area or other items depending on the specific site
Process and Timeline
Once a completed application is submitted, the LMCD will process it. Please keep in mind it may take between 60 and 120 days to process the application, depending on the complexity of the request. Please not that timeframes are tight with the November and December Board meeting schedule.
The LMCD provides notice of a public hearing, which is published and mailed to owners within 350 feet of the subject property. The applicant is required to obtain mailing labels from Hennepin County for property owners within a 350-foot radius of the site. Labels are now available online by visiting https://gis.hennepin.us/locatenotify/default.aspx. The LMCD also forwards the application to other public agencies for review and comment.
The Board received the application along with a staff report setting out additional information and making a recommendation on the requested variance for the Board to consider. Once the public hearing is conducted, the Board then discusses the application and directs the LMCD attorney to draft Findings of Fact and Order for either approval or denial of the request. The Findings of Fact and Order are typically brought back before the Board at a subsequent meeting for consideration of adoption. A copy of the adopted Findings and Order are then provided to the applicant. If approved, the LMCD records the variance on the property at the County Recorder’s office. The applicant, and any subsequent purchaser of the property, is required to comply with the variance and any conditions placed on it.
Please contact the LMCD if you have questions.