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Planning Commission


Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
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Planning Commission unveils Ag District planBy John TorgrimsonMonday, July 2, 2001

A few years ago the Fillmore County Planning Commission quietly approved a motion that would amend the zoning ordinance, limiting the number of non-farm homes in the Ag District to one per quarter section, or one per 160 acres.
The action was an attempt to challenge the existing ordinance which allows for one non-farm home per 1/4 1/4 section, or one per 40 acres.

The amendment, which would have protected agricultural land and further limited development, never made it up the bureaucratic ladder to see the light of day before the Fillmore County Board of Commissioners. But since that time, the motion has spawned discussions around the feasibility of creating multiple districts within the Ag District.

It has been suggested that in the less developed western areas of the county the ordinance could be changed to further limit non-farm home development to one per 160 acres, thus promoting agriculture; conversely, in the more hilly and wooded areas of the county, development could be changed to allow for more than one non-farm per 40 acres would be allowed, further promoting non-farm development.

For the past several months, a select committee has been reviewing the zoning ordinance and considering a range of land-use options. Their recommendations were unveiled at the Fillmore County Planning Commission meeting on Thursday.

Under the plan, three Agriculture Districts would be created:

•Agriculture Preservation District A-1. To provide a district whose primary purpose is to maintain, conserve and enhance agricultural land which has a historically been tilled on a continuous basis or land that has historically been covered by forest or land containing special geographical features and to provide a limited development of farm homes.

In A-1 areas, development would be limited to six homes per section (6 per 640 acres). There is no distinction between farm and non-farm home in the A-1 District. Minimum lot size would be 40 acres.

The committee envisioned the A-1 area being in western Fillmore County and along the Root River Trail system; from the southwest corner of the county to Harmony and from Beaver Township to York Township.

• Agriculture District A-2. To provide a district whose primary purpose is to maintain, conserve and enhance agricultural land which has historically been tilled on a continuous basis and to provide for an orderly development of non-farm dwellings on non-tillable acres.

In A-2 areas, development would stay the same as it is now under the zoning ordinance, with one non-farm home per 1/4 1/4 section (1 per 40 acres). In this district, there would be no reference to A/B land, with development taking place on any land. Minimum lot size would be five acres. Subdivisions and Planned Unit Development would be restricted to within a half mile of cities.

The committee envisioned the A-2 district to be selected areas in north central and eastern Fillmore County.

• Agriculture Development District A-3. To provide a district whose primary purpose is to maintain and conserve agricultural land and provide for an orderly development of non-farm dwellings for the continued growth of local communities.

In A-3 areas, development would allow for four non-farm homes per 1/4 1/4 section (4 per 40 acres). In this district, there would be no reference to A/B land, with development taking place on any land. Minimum lot size would be 2.5 acres. Subdivisions and Planned Unit Development would be restricted to within a half mile of cities.

The committee envisioned the A-3 district to be selected areas in northeastern and southeastern Fillmore County.

• Subdivisions. Subdivisions would be restricted to within 1/2 mile of cities. There would be no limit on the number of lots. Roads within subdivisions would need to be black topped and lead to another hard surface road. There would also need to be a through-road in subdivisions.

Planning Commission Chairman Mike Tuohy, who also chaired the review committee, said that the plan is a first-start to address the land-use issues that the county faces and that all sectors within the county need to comment on the plan.

“Townships have to agree to this,” Tuohy reiterated, noting that many townships are feeling the impact of development.

Zoning Administrator Norm Craig said that he envisions a process where townships and cities can react to the plan before there is any attempt to hold public hearings.

“Right now, this plan is built in jello,” Craig said, referring to the fact that it is subject to change after public input.

John Torgrimson



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