[Planning & Zoning]

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need a Building Setback Permit?

A Building Setback Permit is required to erect, expand, or relocate any building or part therof, thereby certifying that the proposed work will comply with the Zoning Ordinance.  

What is the Cost of the different Permits?

Setback Permit:

Cost of Construction                 Fee

$1.00 to $1,000.00                    $10.00

$1,001.00 to $25,000.00           $20.00

$25,001.00 and Up                    $30.00

Condition Use Hearing Fee:


Varience Hearing Fee:


Rezoning Hearing Fee:



$5,000.00 minimum+ $1,000.00/acre if over 5 acres

County Recorder Fee:

$46.00 (filing of permits)

 Late or Deliquent Applications -All fees double


What is the process to obtain a Building Setback Permit?

First Step,Contact the Planning and Zoning Technician either at 507-831-1153 Ext. 3 or at jared.morrill(at)co.cottonwood.mn.us .

Second Step, Before you arrive at the office be prepared for questions that he may ask you. Some of the following are common questions that he may ask you.

  • What do you want to build?
  • Where do you want to build it? (Address, Township/Section/Range, or Parcel # is sufficient)
  • Have you started building?
  • What is the estimated cost of the construction?
  • What is the purpose of the building?
  • Do you have a building plan?

Third Step, Come on into the Office, We're located in the Soil and Water Conservation Office, on the block south of the Court House.



Do I need a Setback Permit if I am replacing shingles, windows or siding?

If you are just replacing the above items and not changing the dimensions of the structure, you do not need a Setback Permit.

Do I need a Setback Permit to put up a fence on my property?

No, there is no setback requirements in the Ordinance requiring a Setback Permit

What is the size regulations required to split a parcel of land to construct a house?

Irrespective and independent of lot width and depth regulations, every lot or tract that has or will have a structure located on it shall contain an area of not less than two and a half (2.5) acres or 108,900 square feet.

What are the Penalties for not aquiring a permit? Who will enforce it?
  • All building construction without having secured a Building Seback Permit shall result in the Permit costing double the Permit fee, and double the Variance and /or Conditional Use Fee should one be required.
  • When any work shall have been stopped by the County Zoning Administrator, County Building Inspector, County Sanitarian or Pipleine Inspector for any reason whatsoever, it shall not again be resumed until the reason for work stoppage has been completely removed.
  • It shall be the duty of the County Attorney and the Sheriff of Cottonwood County when called upon by the Board of County Commissioners, County Zoning Administrator, County Building Inspector, County Sanitarian or Pipeline Inspector or County Planning Commissioner to perform such duties as may be neccessary to enforce the provisions of Zoning Ordinance.
What is the Field Windbreaks and Wildlife Block Planting Regulations?

There shall be a minimum setback of one hundred (100) feet from all county and township right-of-ways.

What are the Feedlot Setback Requirements?

Please refer to the Cottonwood County Ordinance #28, Section 11-Feedlot Setback Requirements

What are the setback yard regulations for construction?

There shall be a minimum front yard setback of sixty-five (65) feet from the right-of-way of any public road or highway; except that; There shall be a minimum front yard of one hundred (100) feet provided from the right-of-way line of all expressways and four lane highways. Where a lot is located at the intersection of two or more roads or highway, there shall be a front yard setback on each road or highway side of each corner lot.

Side Yard regulations: There shall be a side yard having a width of not less than ten (10) feet on each side of a building.

What is a Variance?

A variance is a modification of a spcific permitted development standard required in an official control, including this ordinance, to allow an alternative development standard not stated as acceptable in the official control, but only as applied to a particular property for the purpose of alleviating a hardship, practical difficulty or unique circumstance as defined and elaborated upon in a municipality's respective planning and zoning enabling legislation.

What is a Condition Use?

A Conditional Use is a land use or development as defined by this Ordinanace that is generally not appropriate but may be allowed with the appropriate restrictions upon finding that: (1) certain conditions as detailed in this Ordinance exist; (2) the use or development conforms to the comprehensive land use plan of the County; and (3) is compatible with the existing neighborhood.  

What are the Shoreland Ordinary High Water (OHW) regulations?

Cottonwood County Ordinance #28, Section 17-Shoreland Regulations

The boundaries of the shoreland district are lands located within the following distances from public waters: One thousand (1,000) feet from the ordinary high water level of a lake, pond, or flowage greater than twenty-five (25) acres in size in unincorporated areas, and three hundred (300) feet from a river or stream or the landward extent of a floodplain designated by this Ordinance on a river or stream, whichever is greater.

Where Do I apply for a Septic Permit?

You can apply for a Septic Permit at the Soil and Water Coservation District Office located at 339 9th Street, Windom, MN.

Who do I call if I suspect that my septic system is failing?

Contact Cottonwood County Soil & Water at (507) 831-1153 for a listing of licensed contractors who are registered with the county or you can print a contractor listing under the Septic Inspector section located on this website.

What are the Steps to obtaining a Septic Permit for a new Septic System?

Step 1, Contact the Soil and Water Office to let us know what you plan on doing. You can get a list of licensed septic installers/designers.

Step 2, Choose a licensed designer and installer, you will need both, contact them to set up a Initial Inspection. This usually consists of three or four parties (the designer, the installer, the County Septic Inspector, and the home owner).

Step 3, The Initial Inspection: What this consists of is taking soil borings at the proposed site to see what level the Redox (reoxidation) reactions take place at. The elevations are also taken to determine the slope on the land which the drainfield will sit.

Step 4, The septic designer will submit plans to the County Septic Inspector. The Inspector will then inturn review the plans and will approve/deny the plans.

Step 5, The County Inspector will contact the designer when the decision is made. The designer will contact the landowner and the installer. The installer then can start the installation process. Once the tank is installed but before it is covered, the County Septic Inspector will do an inspection. The same process will happen with the drainfield.

How Long is a Permit/Varience Good For?

The Setback Permit is valid for 24 months or to the end of the building project.

A varience is valid indefinately on the land that they were applied to.

Conditional Use Permits may have different shelf lives depending on what they are for. Ex. Mining and Extraction have a 5 year life, while others run as long as the conditions are being met.

What Permits do I need to Build a Hog or Cattle Confinement Operation?

First thing that you will need is to sit down with the feedlot Officer and the Planning and Zoning Technician, and discuss your plans with them. They will help establish what permits that you will need to construct the buildings. You may possibly need to register a feedlot, get a short form for construction, and a setback permit.