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Sumner Township subdivision denied variance


Fri, Dec 20th, 2002
Posted in Features

Last Thursday evening, in a hearing room filled to capacity with over 75 citizens, the Fillmore County Board of Adjustment denied a variance to Bruce and Linda Bucknell to develop a subdivision within 600 feet of a feedlot.Chairman Gene Horseman opened the hearing to receive comments from the public on the variance request. The Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance prohibits new dwellings from being constructed within 1000 feet of a feedlot, unless the dwelling to be built is owned by the feedlot owner, or his next of kin. During his opening testimony, the developer, Mr. Bucknell, who just purchased the property last summer, spoke about a neighbor’s house that was recently built within 1,000 feet of the feedlot. That neighbor, Earl Berg, told the board that he was never informed by the zoning administrator that his home had to be 1,000 feet from the feedlot, or he would have moved it.Most of the input from the public was in opposition to the subdivision itself, although some comments focused on the need to keep new homes outside of the 1000-foot radius of the feedlot. Several farmers in the audience stated that the county’s feedlot operators were cooperating with the new feedlot compliance program and expected that all rules pertaining to feedlots would be enforced—including the setback for new homes."Many cattleman have spent thousands of dollars to get into compliance," noted Doug Ward of Newburg Township. Mr. Ward also noted that it was important for the county to enforce the ordinance to support agriculture in Fillmore County. "Each dollar spent by a farmer is turned over seven times in the county," added Mr. Ward.Matt Snyder, chairman of the Sumner Township board, noted that if the situation were reversed, if the applicant wanted to build a feedlot within 1,000 feet of a subdivision, the variance wouldn’t be given.Myron Schmidt, who lives near the proposed subdivision, predicted that a "big clash of lifestyles" would occur if the subdivision were approved. Future owners of $300,000 homes and Volvos would soon request paved roads, eventually leading to higher taxes, Mr. Schmidt predicted. According to state law, an applicant for a variance must show a hardship created by the zoning ordinance in order to receive a variance. Economics cannot be the reason for the hardship, and one cannot create their own hardship by proposing a use that is not in compliance with the ordinance. An applicant for a variance must show that the enactment of a zoning law would deny rights that are allowed to others. Apparently, the proposal of a new subdivision on land purchased after the law went into effect is not a legitimate hardship. After Mr. Horseman closed the public hearing, the board quickly voted unanimously to deny the variance. After the vote, the board heard the petition of Lowell Holtegaard to construct a new home on soils with a crop equivalency rating (CER) of greater than 65. Mr. Holtegaard had sold parts of his land over the past several years, and his only remaining parcel is comprised of only tillable land with the high rating. On a unanimous vote, Mr. Holtegaard’s variance request was also denied.Planning CommissionFollowing the Board of Adjustment meeting, the Planning Commission met to review language changes on three amendments regarding abandoned mobile homes, blasting notice requirements for rock quarry operators, and building site restrictions on soils with a CER of greater than 65.The group painstakingly worked through new and old language on these items, and at the end of the evening, and with the assistance of both the outgoing and incoming county attorneys, the commission approved all three amendments to be sent on to the county board for approval.•On the new blasting notice rule: quarry operators will have to give a "within 10-day" blasting notice to all dwelling occupiers within one-half mile of a surveyed boundary of a quarry. The notice will be given only to those who respond to an annual request for notification that the quarry operator will send to all the neighbors in that one-half mile radius. •On the abandoned mobile homes: an abandoned mobile home will be a mobile home that is no longer listed on the tax rolls. Abandoned mobile homes will have to be removed. •On the building sites: new dwellings must be sited on an existing building site, or on land that has been classified by the Fillmore County Assessor for more than ten years as pasture, wasteland, or woodland. Also, land not in one of the above categories that has a CER of 65 or less is considered eligible as a building site. The term "existing building sites" refers to historical building sites considered as such by the Fillmore County Assessor.

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