What ordinances are administered by the Environmental Services Department?
Our Department administers six ordinances:
- Adult Use
- Shoreland Ordinance (applicable within 1000 feet of classified lake or 500 feet of classified river).
What is the Department's contact information?
Hubbard County Environmental Services
301 Court Ave
Park Rapids, MN 56470
What are the Department's hours of operation?
The Department and Government Center normal hours of operation are Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Who can sign for a permit?
Only a property owner or an authorized agent for a property owner can obtain a permit. An "Authorized Agent" form must be completed for any party other than the property owner to obtain a permit. This form is available on the Department's "Document Center" page.
Where are applications and other forms available?
All standard forms and applications are available on the Department's "Document Center" page.
What forms of payment can be accepted for permits and applications?
Cash, check, or credit card. Checks are to be made payable to the "Hubbard County Auditor/Treasurer." Contact us for instructions on how to pay online.
What permits are required outside of shoreland areas?
County land use permits are not required outside of shoreland areas.
County-wide, a permit is required for an E-911 address, septic system, off-premises advertising sign, and adult use. Property subdivisions also must go through a zoning approval process.
Please check with your local township for any permits, inspections, or approvals if you property is located in the following townships that have zoning regulations: Akeley, Badoura, Clay, Clover, Helga, Henrietta, Mantrap, Rockwood, Thorpe, or Todd. The list of township zoning contacts is found on the Department's "Document Center" page.
Does my driveway approach need to be completed in order to apply for an address?
Yes. An E911 address is based on the exact location at which a driveway approach intersects a named road. Thus, the driveway approach must be constructed in order to accurately assign the E911 address.
Can an address be assigned the same day the application is submitted?
If your driveway can be accurately located on aerial imagery, an E911 address may be assigned within a day or two. However, the processing timeline varies due to a multitude of factors such as the number of pending address requests, weather, and other workload items. Therefore, it may take up to a week for an E911 address to be assigned. If your driveway is not visible on aerial imagery, a site visit must be made to collect a GPS coordinate of the driveway location. This GPS coordinate is then entered into a software program that assigns a specific E911 address based on that exact driveway location. If this site visit is needed, it may take longer than one week for your address to be assigned. Ultimately, a property owner should not assume that an E911 address will be assigned the same day the permit application is submitted.
If a sign becomes damaged, who do I contact for a replacement sign?
Please contact the Environmental Services Office if you would like someone to come to your property to replace the sign and/or post. The county will repair or replace a damaged sign and/or post, and the cost to do so is generally the responsibility of the property owner(s). Replacement signs cost $22 and posts cost $8. To have Hubbard County replace a sign and/or post for you, the cost to do so is $50.
Who installs the actual sign once the E911 address has been issued?
The Hubbard County Highway Department will first contact Gopher State One Call to locate any underground utilities and will then install the new E911 address sign and post. The sign is placed in a specific location per federal E911 standards so it is very important that is never be moved from the installed location.
Can an E911 sign be relocated by a property owner?
No. An E911 sign marks a specific GPS coordinate location for emergency services and its designated location is based on federal E911 system standards. Moving an E911 sign from its installed location is a violation of the E911 ordinance and may impede emergency services' ability to locate your structure during an emergency response. Relocating a sign requires approval from the E911 Administrator, likely a change of the E911 address, and must be performed by the Highway Department.
What is a septic system site evaluation?
A site evaluation is an evaluation of a tract of land performed by a licensed septic professional that determines if the tract has adequate soils and space for a primary and alternate drainfield site. Soil borings are made as part of the evaluation and a written report documenting the evaluation results is generated by the professional. Site evaluations are used for proposed property subdivision to show that each proposed tract is capable of supporting a standard septic system.
Can I build a privy (outhouse) on my property?
Yes. A septic permit is required for a privy (outhouse) as is a septic design from a licensed septic professional. Privies must meet setback requirements from lakes, rivers, streams, property lines, and applicable structures. A property owner must call the Environmental Services Department for an inspection of the privy once its construction is finished.
Are holding tanks allowed?
Holding tanks may be allowed for the following applications: as replacements for existing failing SSTS and SSTS that pose an imminent threat to public health or safety on lots with limitations that will not allow for the installation of a Type I SSTS or for uses that are seasonal or intermittent in nature and will not use more than 150 gallons of water per day.
Holding tanks meeting the above-mentioned criteria may be used for structures with limited water use as determined by the Department under the following conditions:
- The owner shall install a holding tank in accordance with Minnesota Rules, Chapter 7080.2290.
- An alarm device shall be installed that identifies when the holding tank is at 75 percent capacity per Minnesota Rules, Chapter 7080.2290 Subp. F.
- The owner shall maintain a valid contract with a licensed maintainer to pump and haul the holding tank contents to a licensed treatment facility or and MPCA approved land application site. This requirement is waived if the owner is a farmer who is exempt from licensing under Minnesota Statute 115.56, subd. 2, paragraphs (b), clause (3).
- The holding tank shall be regularly pumped, no less frequently than once a year or other regular schedule approved by the Department based on water use.
- The maintainer shall certify each date the tank is pumped, the volume of the liquid waste removed, the treatment facility to or site on which the waste was discharged, and the water meter reading at the time of pumping and report to the Department.
What determines the size and type of septic system needed for a property?
A septic system's size is based on the number of bedrooms in a home, the number of water-using appliances in a home (such as a garbage disposal), and the type of soil located at the proposed drainfield site.
The type of septic system is determined by the licensed septic professional designing the system and is based on the soil conditions located at the proposed drainfield site and the property topography and elevations of the system components.
What is the general process for installing a septic system?
- Contact a licensed septic professional to visit the property and develop a septic system design.
- Submit the design to the Environmental Services Department for review.
- If the design is approved, then a septic permit per the design must be obtained.
- The contractor installing the septic system contacts the Environmental Services Department to schedule an inspection of the septic system installation.
- If the installation passes inspection, a certificate of compliance will be mailed to the property owner which completes the process.
What is a compliance inspection?
A compliance inspection is performed by a licensed septic professional to determine if a septic system meets state septic system operating criteria. The inspection consists of checking to see if:
- The septic tanks are watertight.
- The drainfield meets the required vertical separation distance from the periodically saturated layer (where there is evidence of groundwater presence).
- The system isn't surfacing up onto the ground or backing up into the structure(s) serviced by the system.
What is the jurisdiction of the Hubbard County Shoreland Ordinance?
This ordinance applies to land within 1000 feet of classified lakes and 500 feet of any river or stream. A list of classified lakes may be found in Article II of the shoreland ordinance.
What is an ordinary high water level?
"ordinary high water level" means the boundary of water basins, watercourses, public waters, and public waters wetlands, and:
- the ordinary high water level is an elevation delineating the highest water level that has been maintained for a sufficient period of time to leave evidence upon the landscape, commonly the point where the natural vegetation changes from predominantly aquatic to predominantly terrestrial.
- For watercourses, the ordinary high water level is the elevation of the top of the bank of the channel.
- For reservoirs and flowages, the ordinary high water level is the operating elevation of the normal summer pool.
The DNR has jurisdiction on the area below the OHWL. The County has jurisdiction on the area above the OHWL.
Because the OHWL may not match the water level at a given point in time, when measuring setbacks from the OHWL, it is very important to properly locate the OHWL. Licensed land surveyors can locate established OHWLs or our department can locate OHWLs for a site visit fee.
How do I know if my property lies within the shoreland jurisdiction?
Please see the Hubbard County Link parcel data mapping program that is accessible on the County website (www.co.hubbard.mn.us) which provides a shoreland zoning map layer for your assistance. Or contact the Department to speak with a staff person who can look up your property and assist you with this determination.
What items require a permit?
Permits are required for all structures including but not limited to homes, additions, garages, storage buildings, guest cabins, decks, platforms, etc. Permits are also required for septic systems, erection of signs, vegetative alteration in the shore impact zone, and any shoreland alteration. Permits are valid for a period of one year from the date of issue. Building contractor license numbers are required for all land use permits.
The following structures do not require a permit provided that all setback requirements are met: satellite dishes, propane tanks, outdoor wood stoves, sidewalks, underground sprinkler and/or irrigation systems, hot tubs, tents no larger than 15' wide x 15' long x 15' high, swing sets no larger than 6' deep x 8' wide 6' high, playground equipment no larger than 10' wide x 15' long x 8' high, currently licensed fish housed/dark houses, and pump houses no larger than 4' x 4' x 4'.
If in doubt, please contact us before you start!
Does a pre-built shed or a structure without a foundation require a permit?
Yes. Both types of structures require a land use permit in order to be placed on a property.
Can a fish house be left along the shore?
No. A fish house is a structure and therefore must be stored at a location that meets all setback requirements - including the ordinary high water mark setback - during the portion of a calendar year when it isn't placed on the ice. As long as a fish house is currently licensed, a land use permit is not required to seasonally store it on a property.
How are setbacks measured?
Setbacks are measured as the shortest horizontal distance between the nearest points of two items. On structures, the nearest point is typically the eave overhang.
What are the structure and onsite sewage treatment system setbacks?
Structure setbacks from the ordinary high water mark differ depending on the lake or river/stream classification.
- General Development: 75 feet.
- Recreational Development: 100 feet.
- Natural Environment: 150 feet.
- Tributary: 150 feet.
- Forested: 150 feet.
- Special Protection: 200 feet.
- Remote: 300 feet.
- Side lot line: 10 feet.
- Unplatted cemetery: 50 feet.
- Federal, State or County highway right-of-way: 50 feet.
- Other public road right-of-ways: 20 feet.
- Top of bluff: 30 feet (also must meet or exceed lake or river setback)
Watertight septic tank or pump tank:
- Well: 50 feet.
- Occupied building: 10 feet.
- Property line: 10 feet.
- Well: 50 feet (double if shallow well <50 feet of casing).
- Lake, river or stream: 150 feet.
- Occupied building: 20 feet.
- Bottom of drainfield to water table: 3 feet.
- Property line: 10 feet.
Can I place a temporary structure on my property?
A temporary structure is defined as any structure which has been erected or moved onto a lot in order to be utilized for any purpose for a limited period of time not to exceed 120 consecutive days in a calendar year. Temporary structures may be placed on a property as long as they meet all structure setback requirements. Temporary structures left on a property for more than 120 consecutive days shall be considered a permanent structure and thus must have a permit.
What can I do to a structure without having to obtain a permit?
Repairs and maintenance are allowed to be done without a permit. Section 111 of the Shoreland Management Ordinance defines "repairs and maintenance" as:
What is a non-conforming structure?
Structures that were legally constructed prior to the adoption of shoreland controls, but that do not meet the provisions of the current shoreland ordinance.
Can I make an addition to a nonconforming structure?
No additions are allowed to nonconforming structures located in shore or bluff impact zones.
Aside from a few specific exceptions listed in Section 702 of the shoreland ordinance, additions to legal nonconforming structures located outside of shore or bluff impact zones are allowed by permit so long as the following criteria are met:
- The expansion, enlargement or intensification does not violate any other standards of this Ordinance other than regulation(s) that made the structure nonconforming in the first place.
- An onsite sewage treatment system can be installed in accordance with Hubbard County Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Ordinance No. 41 or the nonconforming structure is connected to a public sewer.
- The expansion, enlargement, or intensification does not occur within a bluff or shore impact zone.
- Should such structure be moved for any reason for any distance whatsoever other than in a manner that brings the structure more into compliance with this Ordinance, it shall thereafter conform to this Ordinance in its entirety after the structure is moved.
Please see Section 702 of the shoreland ordinance for the complete list of regulations affecting nonconforming structures.
Can I put a deck or platform on a nonconforming structure?
One deck/platform may be constructed by permit onto a nonconforming dwelling unit structure that was constructed before July 12, 1971 if the Environmental Services Department determines that no reasonable location for such meeting or exceeding the ordinary high water mark structure setback exists. Deck/platform encroachment toward the ordinary high water must not exceed 15% of the dwelling's existing setback from the ordinary high water level or encroach closer than 30 feet from the ordinary high water level, whichever is more restrictive. Deck or platforms shall not be roofed or screened and must be constructed of environmentally friendly materials.
Deck/platforms cannot be constructed onto nonconforming accessory structures.
Please see Section 703 of the shoreland ordinance for additional regulations.
What vegetation may be legally altered on my lakeshore property?
Vegetative alteration are covered in Section 901 of the shoreland ordinance.
No clearing is allowed in the Shore Impact Zone (SIZ) (which is 1/2 of the structure setback), the Bluff Impact Zone (BIZ), or on steep slopes except for access paths and shoreline recreation use areas as stated in Section 901. Pruning and limbing of trees and shrubs is allowed in the SIZ, but the tree/shrub itself cannot be cut down. A vegetative alteration permit is required for any vegetative alteration in the SIZ except for dead, dying, or diseased vegetation removal. One 6-foot wide walking acess path may be cleared to the lake per 200' of lot width as measured at the OHW. One shoreline recreation use area is also allowed per lot. Clear cutting is not allowed. Any structures or facilities on a property must remain at least 50 percent screened as viewed from the water during summer leaf-on conditions.
In the area between the SIZ and OHW structure setback, removal of trees and shrubs is allowed, provided that a well-distributed stand of trees and shrubs are maintained. A well-distributed stand of trees and shrubs means that a tree and shrub canopy covers at least 50% of the area. A ground layer of predominantly perennial vegetation, such as grass, flowers, forbs, or preferably native plants, shall be preserved, established or maintained in this area.
Outside the OHW structure setback, BIZ, or steep slopes, there are no vegetative alteration regulations.
Can I move any dirt on my property without a permit?
Please reference Section 902 of the shoreland ordinance for ALL the grading and filling regulations.
On steep slopes or within shore impact zones, up to five cubic yards of material may be moved per year without a permit. However, any vegetated area must remain vegetated after any material is moved. No new non-vegetated areas (e.g. sand beaches) can be created.
In the area between the shore impact zone and the structure setback line, and outside of steep slopes, shore impact zones, and bluff impact zones, up to ten cubic yards of material may be moved per year without a permit.
Beyond the structure setback line, permits are not required for material movement so long as the project area does not impact a wetland, steep slope, or bluff impact zone (BIZ).
Can I put rock rip-rap on my shoreline to address an erosion problem?
Yes, if a legitimate shoreline erosion problem is confirmed by the Environmental Services Department. A permit is required and the specifications listed in Section 902, Item 5.K of the shoreland ordinance (shown below) along with DNR requirements must be followed.
- Finished slope does not exceed three feet horizontal to one foot vertical.
- The rip-rap doesn't extend more than ten feet landward from the OHWL.
- The rip-rap doesn't exceed more than three feet in height above the OHWL.
- The Environmental Services Department determines there is a legitimate erosion problem.
Can I put in my driveway without a permit?
Yes. Driveways or access roads into your property can be installed provided they meet the 10 foot property line setback (this setback does not apply to recorded driveway easements that describe a specific easement location) and do not encroach any closer than the required lake, river or stream setback. They must also not impact any wetlands or bluff impact zones.
Check with State, County, or Township officials for road approach permit requirements.
Can I construct stairs going down to the lake?
Stairways, lifts, and landings are the preferred alternative to major topographic alterations for achieving access up and down bluffs and steep slopes to shore areas. Stairways, lifts, and landings are allowed without a permit provided that the maximum width is 4 feet and each landing does not exceed 32 sq. ft. Construction materials must be environmentally friendly. Only one access path to a water body is allowed per 200' of lot width as measured at the OHW. Canopies or roofs are not allowed. Mechanized lifts require a permit and both a pre and post-inspection by the Department. Please see Section 507.2 of the shoreland ordinance for all the applicable regulations.
What kind of sign requires a permit?
An off-premises sign requires a permit and must comply with the ordinance regulations concerning
height, dimensions, lighting, and spacing from existing off-premises signs. “Off-premises” means a sign
structure which pertains to an establishment, merchandise, service, or entertainment that is not sold, produced,
manufactured, or furnished at the property on which the sign is located, e.g. "billboards" or "outdoor advertising.".
An on-premise sign does NOT require a permit. “On-premise” means a sign that pertains to the use of
the premises and/or property on which the sign is located. However, on-premise signs MUST comply with
regulations concerning height, dimensions, lighting, etc.
What are "Scenic Byways"?
Scenic Byways are roadways with special scenic qualities that the County seeks to protect. Two such
byways exist in the County: the Lake Country Scenic Byway and the Great River Road. Roads
comprising these byways are T.H. 34, T.H. 71 from T.H. 34 to T.H. 200, T.H. 200 from T.H. 71 to the
Clearwater Co. line, and C.S.A.H. 2.
On-premise signs are allowed in scenic byways. Off-premises signs are only allowed within certain distances of
municipalities and specific roadway intersections.
Is there an approval process required in order to subdivide property?
Yes. All property subdivisions require County approval. Subdivisions are processed in three ways: 1. administrative subdivisions, 2. minor subdivisions,
and 3. plats.
What subdivision types require a plat?
A plat is required for the following four subdivision types:
- all new subdivisions in an existing plat of record except for common boundary line adjustments;
- if five or more lots that are each 2.5 acres or less in size are being created in a shoreland area;
- to further subdivide a property that has already been subdivided as much as the Subdivision Ordinance allows by administrative and/or minor subdivision; and
- to create more than two tracts smaller than five acres in size, but at least 2.25 acres in size (or at least 1 acre in size in a commercial district within a township that has a land use ordinance) in a non-shoreland area.
What subdivision types are processed as administrative subdivisions?
- Property line adjustments, exchanges of abutting land between owners, and additions of land to an existing lot.
- Shoreland area subdivisions that do not require a minor subdivision or plat.
- Non-shoreland area subdivisions that do not require a minor subdivision or plat.
What is the minimum platted lot size?
In shoreland areas, the minimum lot size requirements are the same for plats and administrative
subdivisions and vary depending on the lake or river/stream classification. The lot size requirements are
listed in Article V of the shoreland ordinance.
Outside shoreland areas, the minimum platted lot size is 2.25 acres except for commercial use lots
created in townships with land use ordinances that allow commercial lot sizes smaller than 2.25 acres – in
which case the township’s commercial minimum lot size is allowed.
What is the minimum administrative subdivision lot size?
In shoreland areas, the minimum lot size requirements vary depending on the lake or river/stream
classification and if the lot is riparian (abutting a lake or river/stream) or non-riparian (not abutting a lake or
river/stream). The lot size requirements are listed in Article V of the shoreland ordinance.
Outside shoreland areas, the minimum lot size requirement is 2.25 acres which cannot include road right-of way, 49,000 sq. ft. of contiguous residential lot suitable area, and a 150' average width.
What is the minimum minor subdivision lot size?
The minimum minor subdivision lot size is five acres.
Can a landlocked piece of property be created?
No. Any new lot being created must either: 1. abut an existing public road or 2. have a contiguous,
minimum 33’ width ingress and egress easement connecting it to a public road.
Where can I get my well water tested?
Water test kits are available at the Environmental Services Department at no charge. Once a sample is
taken, you mail it to a testing lab in the shipping box the test kit comes in. Fees must be sent in with the
sample to the testing lab. The testing fees vary depending on which water tests are requested.
Where can I find information on a well?
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) maintains an online database of drilled well records it has
received. The database is geographic information system (GIS) based and located at: http://mdhagua.
health.state.mn.us/cwi/cwiViewer.htm. If a well is not recorded in the database, it may have been
drilled prior to when MDH started collecting records, the well information may not have been submitted to
MDH, or MDH may not have inputted the well information into the database yet.
Who is the contact for wetland-related issues?
The Hubbard County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) administers the Wetland Conservation
Act (WCA) in Hubbard County. The SWCD District Manager serves as the WCA Administrator. The
SWCD is located in the USDA Service Center at 603 North Central Avenue, Suite 100, Park Rapids, MN 56470, 218-732-0121, www.hubbardswcd.org