Chris LeClair of Richville has been director of Otter Tail County Land and Resource Management for the past couple of years. An avid outdoorsman, LeClair’s love for the outdoors is reflected in his work with the shoreland district in Otter Tail County.
Q: How long have you been at the job?
A: A little over two and a half years.
Q: What are your job duties?
A: I am the head of the department that regulates all activities within the shoreland district (within 1,000 feet of a lake or 300 feet of a river) of the county. The department issues permits for the construction of dwellings and accessory structures in the shoreland district. The department also oversees the county’s planning commission, which holds public hearings for conditional-use permits, and the county’s board of adjustment, which holds public hearings for variances to various ordinances that the department administers.
In addition to shoreland management regulation, the department is also the regulatory authority for septic system installation, design, and maintenance. The department is the regulatory authority for the Minnesota Wetland Conservation Act. Finally, the department has an aquatic invasive species program, in which we hire 25 temporary watercraft inspectors each summer that staff various public access sites across the county to prevent the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species.
Q: What is your daily routine?
A: I don’t have a daily routine. No one day is like another. I prepare for and present at county board meetings. I issue conditional-use permits. I review preliminary plats and final plats. I also serve on several state and national boards. I am a member of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Subsurface Sewage Treatment System Advisory Committee, which advises the MPCA on the interpretation of the statewide septic code. I am on the board of directors of the National Onsite Wastewater Recycling Association, which is the national septic system organization. I served on the board of directors for the Minnesota Onsite Wastewater Association from 2009-2019. I am also heavily involved in the county’s ‘One Watershed, One Plan’ planning process, which is a watershed planning process that establishes goals and priorities to protect the county’s surface water and groundwater.
Q: What is the most difficult part of your job?
A: I really have a hard time with this question because I love my job so much!
Q: What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
A: Helping people. One of the initiatives I have put into place is establishing a grant and loan program for homeowners that need to replace their septic system. The comments that I have received from homeowners receiving grant and loan money is so rewarding.
Q: What are your hobbies outside of work?
A: I like fishing and boating and hiking. I like reading books and going to local breweries with friends. I love sitting on the front porch with a book in one hand, and a tasty IPA in the other. And I’m actually a pretty big online gamer, too. Kinda geeky.