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Planning Commission approves two new subdivisions


Fri, Aug 22nd, 2003
Posted in Features

The Fillmore County Planning Commission approved two new housing subdivisions at its meeting last week, one in Amherst Township and one in Chatfield Township.The Secluded Land Company, DeSoto, Wisconsin, is developing the Amherst subdivision, located in section 25 in the area known as the Big Woods. This subdivision will contain four lots, three of which are about 10 acres each, the fourth about six acres.The subdivision was approved without any public opposition, but a discussion by the members of the planning commission led to the application of several conditions on the developer. The permit will state that future owners cannot further subdivide the lots into smaller lots, and the lot owners will be required to have garbage collection services and maintain their septic systems.The Chatfield subdivision, called Rivers Bend and located in section 14 of Chatfield Township, brought more opposition and a lot of questions from the planning board.Apparently, the subdivision slipped through the new Chatfield Township zoning process because the township did not respond to the applicant within the 10 days required by law. The subdivision may not have been approved by the township because it contains over 40 percent soils with greater than a 65 crop equivalency rating, as well as bluffs and shoreline restrictions. One Chatfield township board supervisor, Ross Goldsmith, explained to the planning commission that the township clerk had failed to bring the application before the board in time for it to respond. The township is required to respond to the applicant within 10 days on whether the application is in order, but the board only meets monthly. Mr. Goldsmith pointed out to the Fillmore County planners that the subdivision plat as presented by Mr. Geoffrey Griffin, the engineer representing the developers, would not have passed the township’s subdivision requirements because of the soil restrictions, the bluff requirements, and the shoreline restrictions. The property fronts the Root River. The Fillmore County zoning ordinance requires subdivisions that contain a bluff impact area to follow Planned Unit Development requirements, a stricter process. Mr. Griffin agreed to remove the bluff and shoreline areas from within the subdivision boundaries, making them un-platted areas that the lot buyers will purchase separately.But the planning commission was unsympathetic to Mr. Goldsmith’s request that the county enforce the soils requirements, noting that the township had missed its opportunity to reject the subdivision when it failed to respond, and that the less strict Fillmore County ordinance would allow the subdivision on the soils because the site was wooded for more than 10 years.Despite the fact that Mr. Goldsmith pointed out language in the Fillmore County ordinance that states that stricter requirements of a township ordinance would prevail over the county’s ordinance, planning commission members Duane Bakke, Keith Culver, and Gordon Gullickson, along with the zoning administrator, Norm Craig, argued strongly that it was too late to apply that language because the township had their chance and failed to act. The subdivision application was approved with one dissenting vote from planning commission member Rod Humble. County Water Coordinator Donna Rasmussen made yet another presentation to the planning commission on a proposed Decorah Shale District. This new district would define the areas of the county where groundwater flows over the Decorah Shale and is recharged and cleaned before entering the lower aquifers.Ms. Rasmussen has been working on this special district proposal for many months and has made several presentations to the planning commission. The proposed language for the district would not prohibit development in the Decorah shale areas, but would require individual site investigations for homes proposed in those areas to prevent contamination of the water table from septic systems and to prevent potential foundation problems from intruding ground water.The commission took no action on the proposed district and, at Commissioner Duane Bakke’s request, postponed scheduling a public hearing on the proposed district until October. Mr. Bakke stated that he didn’t have a problem with the intent of the rules proposed, but that he didn’t really want to see the creation of another special district in the county, noting that there already is a Bluff District and a Shoreline District.

Commercial ATV track proposed in Carrolton Twp.

The Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance prohibits commercial racetracks, ATV, and motorbike courses in the agricultural district, but that may soon change.Last Thursday, County Commissioner Randy Dahl introduced one of his constituents, Dave Clement, to the Fillmore County Planning Commission, requesting that the commissioners consider changing the zoning ordinance to allow Mr. Clement to build a commercial ATV course on 495 acres in Carrolton Township. Commissioner Dahl, who will ultimately have a vote on any ordinance changes, has been advocating the building of off-the-road vehicle tracks in rural Fillmore County for several years. Lately, Mr. Dahl has made regular appearances before the planning commission to comment on, or propose issues to the planners.Mr. Clement and members of his family addressed the planning commission about their plans, stating that the off-road, four-wheeler track and a possible campground would contribute to tourism in the Lanesboro area. The project would be located on property owned by the Clement family in sections four, five and eight.After a discussion by the planning commission, Chairman Mike Tuohy and Commissioner Duane Bakke asked Zoning Administrator Norm Craig to draft language for an ordinance change that would allow ATV and motorbike courses in rural areas, but continue to prohibit racetracks.

Board of Adjustment denies building site on prime soils

At its meeting last Thursday evening, the Fillmore County Board of Adjustment denied a variance request by Steve Storhoff to build a home in Amherst Township on soils with a crop equivalency rating of greater than 65. Mr. Storhoff explained that his first choices for a home site on the family farm were also restricted by the county’s setback requirement from a neighboring quarry, but also admitted that there may be other home sites on the family farm, though they would require a longer driveway.Board of Adjustment member Jim Keune did not believe that Mr. Storhoff had a hardship as the family farm is comprised of hundreds of acres. "I’m having trouble finding a true hardship here," Keune stated."We’ve turned down several of these requests, even an Amish man from that township. We have to stand by the ordinance…don’t open a can of worms," continued Mr. Keune. Board members Rod Humble and Gene Horseman agreed with Mr. Keune, and on a motion by Mr. Humble the variance request was denied on a three to one vote. Board member Gordon Gullickson, a farming neighbor of the Storhoff farm and a member of the Amherst Township board, cast the dissenting vote.



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