Staff has collected some of the most commonly asked questions from citizens that they encounter on a daily basis regarding planning issues. These questions and associated answers are below.

Disclaimer: This section is to be only used as a guide, some of the following information may differ on a case by case basis, or as regulations change. City Staff will gladly meet with you to discuss any additional questions or concerns.

Q: What type of permit do I need?

A: If your structure is under 120 square feet you will only need to apply for a zoning permit, which is $35.00. If the structure is over a 120 square feet you will be required to apply for a building permit.

Q: What are the setbacks for accessory structures?

A: Detached garages, sheds, dog kennels, playhouses, etc can not be forward of the principal structure, and must be ten (10) feet away from the side and rear property lines, and ten (10) feet from any other buildings. There are exceptions when the property is located on a lake.

Q: I have an empty lot, can I build a garage or shed on it?

A: No, the house, principal structure must be completed prior or at the same time as the accessory structure.

Q: Are the steel shelters or the vinyl tarp structures allowed as a shed?

A: No, in 2003 an ordinance was passed not allowing them, even though stores do sell them in Baxter, they are not allowed in Baxter.

Q: What does my accessory structure have to look like?

A: All accessory structures shall be compatible in design, color, materials, and construction type of the principal structure, or the house.

Q: I live on a lake, where can I put my garage, or shed?

A: When you live on a lake the front yard is the lakeside. Therefore your backyard relating to accessory structures is considered to be the roadside. The rear setback for accessory structures is a minimum of 40 feet from the road right of way; the 10 foot setback applies for side lot lines and from any other building.

Q: How big of a garage can I build?

A: Detached accessory structures can be a maximum of 1,000 square feet. If you have an attached garage it can be equal to or less than the ground coverage of the principal structure, but can not exceed 1,800 square feet. It also cannot be higher than the principal structure and cannot exceed 25 feet in height in any case.

Q: How many accessory structures can I have on my lot?

A: The total ground coverage (footprint) of all attached and unattached accessory structures cannot exceed 1,800 square feet. There is an exception if you live on a lot over 2.5 acres. To build over that you need a Conditional Use Permit from the City.

Q: Can I live in my garage, or rent a room out in my garage?

A: Under no circumstance is using a garage as a dwelling unit allowed. Renting is only allowed if it is within the principal structure (house). All rental housing needs to be registered with the City of Baxter through the Building Department.

Q: Do I need a permit to install a fence?

A: A fence requires a zoning permit, which is $35.00. These permits are available at Baxter City Hall.

Q: Is there a limit on the height of a fence that I can put up on my property?

A: Fences may be located on any lot line as long as it is not disturbing any neighboring property. Allowable fence height is based on location and type of fence. The following information relates to residential fences. Fences in front of the house may be up to a height of four feet (4′) if the are over 50% opaque (chain link), or up to a max height of forty inches (40″) if more than 50% opaque. Fences behind the front of the house are allowed to be up to a height of six feet (6′).

Q: My house is setback further than the minimum required front setback how high can I have a fence?

A: On a case by case basis after an analysis of the property, Staff can make an administrative exception for fence height if the house is setback further than the required setback, for a fence height of six feet (6′) to extend to the required minimum yard front setback, or behind the nearest front corner of the adjacent house, whichever distance is shorter.

Q: Are there setbacks for my fence on property lines?

A: Fences may be placed along property lines provided no damage of any kind results to abutting property.

Q: I have a commercial/industrial lot what kind of fence is allowed?

A: Commercial fencing is similar to residential standards: A fence can be up to four feet (4′) if over 50% opaque (chain link) or up to a height of thirty-six inches if over 50% opaque. If a higher fence is required a commercial property may apply for a Conditional Use Permit.

Q: What side of the fence can face outward?

A: City Code requires that the finished face of the fence must face outward.

Q: What is my property zoned?

A: Baxter has a number of zoning districts. You can check the zoning map here on the website, or search the GIS map for your property.

Q: What are the setbacks for my property?

A: In all zoning districts the standards setbacks are as follows:
Front: 40 feet from the right of way/property line.
Rear: 30 feet from property line
Sides: 10 feet from the property line
Corner lots: If you have a corner lot there are two 40 foot setbacks from both road right of ways.

Reductions in setbacks are allowed in Commercial, Office, and Industrial Districts if certain height and right-of-way criteria are met to a minimum of thirty feet (30′).

Q: I want to split my lot, what do I have to do?

A: Contact the Planning Department to set up a meeting to determine if a lot split is feasible. You will have to go through a public hearing process for approval from Planning and Zoning and City Council. Staff will assist you in what needs to be done and what has to be provided.

Q: I have been told I can’t do something with my property due to zoning regulations; can I apply for a Variance?

A: You may apply for a Variance, however we recommend you set up a meeting with the Planning Department. To be granted a Variance, which requires a public hearing, you must demonstrate a hardship as to why the zoning regulations are not able to be followed. That hardship can not be based on economic reasons alone.

Q: What is the Shoreland Overlay District?

A: The Shoreland Overlay District is an area extending 1000 feet from the OHWM of a lake wherein additional restrictions apply to all property within that 1000 feet.

Q: What are those additional restrictions/requirements?

A: There is an entire list, the most common are increased setbacks, and minimum lot size. Also required is a reduced maximum impervious surface coverage, which is 25% impervious. This mean that all building footprints, driveway, paved area, etc. can only equal 25% of the total square footage on the lot (A 20,000 square foot lot is only allowed 5,000 square feet of impervious surface). Feel free to contact the Planning Department for more detailed information, or consult the City Code available on this website

Q: I live on a lake, what are the setbacks from the lake?

A: The setback on lakes is actually measured from the Ordinary High Water Level/Mark, this is actually an elevation assigned by the DNR. Ordinary High Water Level (OHWL): An elevation delineating the highest water level which has been maintained for a sufficient period of time to leave evidence upon the landscape. The ordinary high water mark is commonly that point where the natural vegetation changes from predominantly aquatic to predominantly terrestrial. Each lake is classified differently and has a different OHWL. The waters edge is not necessarily the OHWL.

The following Lakes are classified as General Development:

White Sand Lake: The OHWL is 1198.4 and the building setback is 75 feet from that elevation.

Baxter Lake: The OHWL is 1191.3 and the building setback is 75 feet from that elevation.

The following Lakes are classified as Recreational Development:

Whipple Lake: The OHWL is 1194.9 and the building setback is 100 feet from that elevation.

Red Sand Lake: The OHWL is 1199.9 and the building setback is 100 feet from that elevation.

Moberg Lake: The OHWL is 1194.9 and the building setback is 100 feet from that elevation.

Perch Lake: The OHWL is 1190.4 and the building setback is 100 feet from that elevation.

Bass Lake: The OHWL is 1168.1 and the building setback is 100 feet from that elevation.

Hardy Lake: The OHWL is 1166.1 and the building setback is 100 feet from that elevation.

The following Lakes are classified as Natural Environment:

Mile Lake: The OHWL is 1187.3 and the building setback is 150 feet from that elevation at this time.

Rush Lake: The OHWL is 1190.7 and the building setback is 150 feet from that elevation.

Wetland known as Island Lake (North of Mapleton Rd): The OHWL is 1179.6 and the building setback is 150 feet from that elevation.

Island Lake: The OHWL is 1175.9 and the building setback is 150 feet from that elevation.

Unnamed Lake (between Bass and Hardy Lake ID 18-385): The OHWL is 1168.1 and the building setback is 150 feet from that elevation.

Q: The OHWL on my property is further than the actual edge of the water, what can
I do in that area.

A: Any work done between the OHWL elevation and the water fall under the jurisdiction of the DNR. The City of Baxter will not issue any permits to do work in that area.

Q: I want to move some soil around in my property, do I need a special permit?

A: Yes, and No. If you are disturbing less than 10 yards of dirt you do not need any permit. If you are disturbing more than 10 yards, but less than an acre you need to get a Shoreland Alteration Permit from the City of Baxter. For more than an acre you will need a grading permit which requires a NPDES permit from the MPCA. The City does ask that before any work is done you consult with Staff to establish proper erosion controls, and such.

Q: I plan on remodeling my lake home or building a new home are there any special requirements?

A: Staff will have to evaluate your request, a general rule of thumb is that if you are required to do excavation within the minimum building setback from the lake you are required to get a Conditional Use Permit prior to beginning any construction. You will need to factor in the time it takes for those approvals in your building process, and it may take approximately sixty (60) days for that approval. You will be required to provide at a minimum with your CUP application a certificate of survey showing the proposed building location, and an engineered storm water plan.