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Multiple Services From One Office

By Staff | Jun 4, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles highlighting some of the services provided for the taxpayers by various departments and employees of Palo Alto County

Look up the phrase, “Man of Many Hats” in a dictionary, and the odds are Joe Neary’s photo will be next to the definition.

Neary is a man who wears many hats as he serves the citizens of Palo Alto County. To be exact, Neary is the Palo Alto County Zoning Administrator; Palo Alto County Environmental Health Officer; Palo Alto County Solid Waste Administrator; Palo Alto County Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management director and Palo Alto County Floodplain Manager.

So what does each one of those jobs entail? It may seem far-fetched, but most of the services actually do tie together. Neary’s office is located in the Brink Building, at 2103 Main Street in Emmetsburg and is pretty much a one-person operation.

As Zoning Administrator, Neary is responsible for issuance of all types of building permits in the unincorporated areas of the county. As Palo Alto County’s unincorporated, or rural areas were zoned in 1995, permits for all types of building construction are required, along with the required fees. Agricultural buildings, however, are exempt from permit fees.

Once an application is filed for a building permit, Neary will make a site visit for any permit applicant prior to construction. The applications then go before the county’s Planning and Zoning Board for consideration, and upon its recommendation, are submitted to the Board of Supervisors for final approval or rejection. Once a permit is granted, Neary will also visit the site after construction, to see that the permit has been complied with. Should violations be found, Neary is also authorized to enforce penalties for zoning violations as set forth by the county’s zoning ordinance.

The position of Environmental Health Administrator is a new name for the position of Sanitarian. In that capacity, Neary issues permits for wells, well closures and septic systems in the county. The aspect of working with septic systems has increased in the past two years when the State passed the Time and Transfer laws, which affect sales of property serviced by private septic systems. Under the law, before title on a property can be transferred, the system must be inspected and the buyer made aware of what is included in the septic system, before the transfer of title can be completed. According to Neary, the law requires a septic system to be designed according to standards. Through his office, Neary is able to design those systems.

Neary is also responsible to inspect and approve any well that is dug for private use, or reconstructed. Through grant funding, Neary’s office can conduct water testing of wells to insure the water is safe for human consumption. Additionally, old wells must be closed in accordance with state standards, and Neary also utilizes grant funding to assist landowners with the proper closing of wells. Working closely with well drilling contractors, old wells can be closed properly to protect groundwater sources from outside contamination. Plus, all wells that are closed in the county are mapped via GPS systems as a safeguard against possible future contamination from development.

As Environmental Health Administrator, Neary also receives calls from residents about a variety of other issues, including mold problems in buildings, mosquito problems and thing such as bat bites. Services such as the inspection of restaurants, lodging establishments and tattoo parlors are contracted to the Siouxland District Health Office in Sioux City.

The Solid Waste Administrator is responsible for the operations of the county transfer station, where solid waste is collected and loaded into a compactor before being hauled to the Northern Plains Landfill at Graettinger, which is owned and operated by the City of Spencer. To operate the Transfer Station, which is located north of Emmetsburg, Neary has two full-time employees, Steve Malm and Jim Frambach, who operate the facility six days a week from 9 a,m, to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays during the winter months.

As part of the transfer station, a Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off site is being completed and will be open to the public, by appointment only, in the very near future.

Part of the duties of Solid Waste Administrator includes ongoing education of the public on recycling and waste reduction. To accomplish those aspects of the position, Neary works closely with Horizons Unlimited’s recycling programs in Emmetsburg, as well as the Palo Alto County Conservation Board’s Naturalist, Miriam Patton, to educate school students on the importance of recycling as a way of reducing the amount of solid waste going into the landfill, along with proper disposal of hazardous materials.

One of the newer services Neary oversees is the county’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program, which concentrates on establishing and maintaining proper growth of native grasses and flowers in the county’s road ditches, as well as noxious weed control. Kent Malm serves as the IRVM coordinator, along with part-time assistance during the growing seasons. IRVM works closely with the Secondary Road Department to establish new growth cover in ditches to control erosion and also works with landowners who might have specific requests for seedings in front of a residence following road work such as grading or reconstruction.

The IRVM department can provide hydro seeding, and can also perform noxious weed control through spraying and also through mowing.

Neary also serves as the county’s Flood Plain Manager, a position that once fell under the auspices of Emergency Management, but due to the close relationship of floodplains and zoning, Neary has assumed those duties. The position has become more active as development of areas for residential and commercial properties increase with time in areas deemed to be in flood plains. According to Neary, regulations addressing such development and insurance requirements to build in floodplains are becoming more and more restrictive.

In the past, floodplains were based on the idea of a 100-year flood, but state officials are moving towards the idea of a 500-year flood, which creates more problems for those wishing to build in a flood plain. As the flood plain manager, Neary is required to verify all elevations in any constructions have been determined by a certified engineer in order to comply with flood plain regulations. In all cases, permits to construct in a flood plain must be obtained from both the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.

To reach Joe Neary in any of his official capacities for Palo Alto County, contact his office at 712-852-3058.

Multiple Services From One Office

By Staff | Jun 4, 2013

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles highlighting some of the services provided for the taxpayers by various departments and employees of Palo Alto County

Look up the phrase, “Man of Many Hats” in a dictionary, and the odds are Joe Neary’s photo will be next to the definition.

Neary is a man who wears many hats as he serves the citizens of Palo Alto County. To be exact, Neary is the Palo Alto County Zoning Administrator; Palo Alto County Environmental Health Officer; Palo Alto County Solid Waste Administrator; Palo Alto County Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management director and Palo Alto County Floodplain Manager.

So what does each one of those jobs entail? It may seem far-fetched, but most of the services actually do tie together. Neary’s office is located in the Brink Building, at 2103 Main Street in Emmetsburg and is pretty much a one-person operation.

As Zoning Administrator, Neary is responsible for issuance of all types of building permits in the unincorporated areas of the county. As Palo Alto County’s unincorporated, or rural areas were zoned in 1995, permits for all types of building construction are required, along with the required fees. Agricultural buildings, however, are exempt from permit fees.

Once an application is filed for a building permit, Neary will make a site visit for any permit applicant prior to construction. The applications then go before the county’s Planning and Zoning Board for consideration, and upon its recommendation, are submitted to the Board of Supervisors for final approval or rejection. Once a permit is granted, Neary will also visit the site after construction, to see that the permit has been complied with. Should violations be found, Neary is also authorized to enforce penalties for zoning violations as set forth by the county’s zoning ordinance.

The position of Environmental Health Administrator is a new name for the position of Sanitarian. In that capacity, Neary issues permits for wells, well closures and septic systems in the county. The aspect of working with septic systems has increased in the past two years when the State passed the Time and Transfer laws, which affect sales of property serviced by private septic systems. Under the law, before title on a property can be transferred, the system must be inspected and the buyer made aware of what is included in the septic system, before the transfer of title can be completed. According to Neary, the law requires a septic system to be designed according to standards. Through his office, Neary is able to design those systems.

Neary is also responsible to inspect and approve any well that is dug for private use, or reconstructed. Through grant funding, Neary’s office can conduct water testing of wells to insure the water is safe for human consumption. Additionally, old wells must be closed in accordance with state standards, and Neary also utilizes grant funding to assist landowners with the proper closing of wells. Working closely with well drilling contractors, old wells can be closed properly to protect groundwater sources from outside contamination. Plus, all wells that are closed in the county are mapped via GPS systems as a safeguard against possible future contamination from development.

As Environmental Health Administrator, Neary also receives calls from residents about a variety of other issues, including mold problems in buildings, mosquito problems and thing such as bat bites. Services such as the inspection of restaurants, lodging establishments and tattoo parlors are contracted to the Siouxland District Health Office in Sioux City.

The Solid Waste Administrator is responsible for the operations of the county transfer station, where solid waste is collected and loaded into a compactor before being hauled to the Northern Plains Landfill at Graettinger, which is owned and operated by the City of Spencer. To operate the Transfer Station, which is located north of Emmetsburg, Neary has two full-time employees, Steve Malm and Jim Frambach, who operate the facility six days a week from 9 a,m, to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays during the winter months.

As part of the transfer station, a Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off site is being completed and will be open to the public, by appointment only, in the very near future.

Part of the duties of Solid Waste Administrator includes ongoing education of the public on recycling and waste reduction. To accomplish those aspects of the position, Neary works closely with Horizons Unlimited’s recycling programs in Emmetsburg, as well as the Palo Alto County Conservation Board’s Naturalist, Miriam Patton, to educate school students on the importance of recycling as a way of reducing the amount of solid waste going into the landfill, along with proper disposal of hazardous materials.

One of the newer services Neary oversees is the county’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program, which concentrates on establishing and maintaining proper growth of native grasses and flowers in the county’s road ditches, as well as noxious weed control. Kent Malm serves as the IRVM coordinator, along with part-time assistance during the growing seasons. IRVM works closely with the Secondary Road Department to establish new growth cover in ditches to control erosion and also works with landowners who might have specific requests for seedings in front of a residence following road work such as grading or reconstruction.

The IRVM department can provide hydro seeding, and can also perform noxious weed control through spraying and also through mowing.

Neary also serves as the county’s Flood Plain Manager, a position that once fell under the auspices of Emergency Management, but due to the close relationship of floodplains and zoning, Neary has assumed those duties. The position has become more active as development of areas for residential and commercial properties increase with time in areas deemed to be in flood plains. According to Neary, regulations addressing such development and insurance requirements to build in floodplains are becoming more and more restrictive.

In the past, floodplains were based on the idea of a 100-year flood, but state officials are moving towards the idea of a 500-year flood, which creates more problems for those wishing to build in a flood plain. As the flood plain manager, Neary is required to verify all elevations in any constructions have been determined by a certified engineer in order to comply with flood plain regulations. In all cases, permits to construct in a flood plain must be obtained from both the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.

To reach Joe Neary in any of his official capacities for Palo Alto County, contact his office at 712-852-3058.