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Commission deals with sawmill permits, tower


Fri, Jan 26th, 2001
Posted in

Monday, January 29, 2001

Mike Tuohy’s first act as newly elected chairman of the Fillmore County Planning Commission was to implement a sign up system for the public to give input at public hearings.

"We need to register the speakers and make sure all have the opportunity to speak," Tuohy said. "But at the same time, we need to keep the nonsense down. We are here to solve the county’s problems. And that’s the only reason we are here." With that in mind, Tuohy opened the meeting to the first of four public hearings for conditional use permits (CUP).

Dairyland Power of LaCrosse was before the commission requesting a permit to replace their existing 105 foot communication tower in Harmony with a new160 foot tower. Bob Slaback of Dairyland said that the tower will be used to maintain radio contact between Dairyland vehicles and the home base in LaCrosse. He said that it would also be used for communication with Dairyland coop partners, such as Tri-County Electric.

Dr. Frank Sattler of Harmony, whose home is adjacent to the tower, asked if the tower would use any lumination lights. Slaback said that no lights would be used on the tower as the Federal Aviation Agency does not require lights on towers less than 200 feet high. The commission recommended sending the CUP on to the county board for approval.

The commission recommended approval for a CUP for an existing sawmill for Yost Hershberger in Section 17 of Preble Township. The site is 1/2 mile off the public road. They also recommended that the county board approve a permit for Abe Swartzentruber to start a sawmill in Section 14 of Canton Township. The sawmill would be located 200 feet off of the public road.

Andy Bahl of Root River Hardwoods was before the commission requesting a permit for their sawmill outside of Preston. Bahl said that the business has been operating at that location for 50 years. He said that they plan on creating a blacktop area on their property so that trucks will not be loading on the county road. The company will continue to stockpile slabs, which are sold for fire wood.

The commission sent the permit on to the county board with one condition: Root River Hardwoods continue to work with the county to get loading of trucks off the county road.

With all new business taken care of, the commission turned its attention to a number of zoning issues that the group has been studying as of late.

• Subdivisions. The commission reached no consensus on whether to recommend changing the ordinance regarding subdivisions. The group discussed a number of possible provisions, including restricting subdivisions to within two miles of an incorporated municipality, as well as requiring a through road in each subdivision.

The commission seemed in agreement that they would not take any action on amending the subdivisions provision of the ordinance until looking at the broader question of non-farm homes in the Ag District. Chairman Tuohy said that this is only a beginning point as the commission needs to start somewhere to ensure that the county does not have a hodgepodge of development.

• Resorts. The ordinance does not allow for resorts in unincorporated areas of the county. The commission will not recommend changing the ordinance. which allows for resorts in the incorporated areas of the county as part of a Planned Unit Development.

• Sign Square Footage. The commission will not recommend changing the ordinance increasing the maximum size for outdoor signs from 250 to 300 square feet.

• Bunkhouse. The commission will not recommend that the county make provisions in its ordinance for bunkhouses, a structure used for sleeping with one large room containing multiple beds.

• Rock Quarries. Should the permitting process allow for rock quarries to be administratively reviewed every five years rather than subjected to public hearings. The consensus of the commission was not to change the ordinance because public hearings are the only way that the public can raise such issues such as dust and traffic.

• Variance notification. The commission agreed to hold public hearings in the future on changing the zoning ordinance to require notification of variance application to all residents within 350 feet of the affected property to 500 feet.

The next Planning Commission meeting will be on February 22. Scheduled on the agenda are:

• Ron Gehling Rock Quarry CUP, Carrolton Township.
• Rob Hanks Swine Feedlot CUP, Beaver Township.
• Richland Communicatons Cell-Phone Towers CUP: Section 3 Preston Township, and Section 23 CantonTownship.
• Stephen Larson & Lisa Flicker B&B CUP, Harmony Township.
• Ken Erding Sawmill CUP, the town of Fillmore.
• Jessie Buggs Subdivision CUP, Holt Township.

By John Torgrimson

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