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Planning Commission amends zoning ordinance; deals with variances, sawmills

Fri, Jun 29th, 2001
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Monday, July 2, 2001

After considerable debate, the Fillmore County Planning Commission voted unanimously to amend the Zoning Ordinance to deal with splitting off a second farm home from a farm site to be classified as a non-farm home.

The matter came up specifically in regard to a proposed split by Cleon Heusinkveld of rural Spring Valley who wanted to split off one farm home and five acres. His grandson is joining the dairy operation and wishes to purchase the house and five acres. But the split was denied because the zoning ordinance prevented a non-farm home from being within 1000 feet of a feedlot.

This led to a discussion about what is a farm. Commissioner Duane Bakke argued that the two homes on the site have always been farm home.

The ordinance forces the home to become a non-farm home, Bakke said.

Heusinkveld, who called the bureaucratic snafu stupid, told the commission that there have been two houses on the farm for more than 51 years.

You just have to require that the farm buy the home back. Thats all you need, Heusinkveld said, in defense that the home might be sold off in the future to someone who doesnt work on the farm.

County Attorney Matt Opat raised a number of questions about the legal wording of the the amendment and defended the purpose of the original ordinance.

The ordinance is here for a reason, Opat said to criticism that the process has taken too long to deal with the problem.

We are not zoning for one family here.

Zoning Administrator Norm Craig agreed, noting that the wording of the ordinance was originally intended to protect farmers.

It was done for a purpose, Craig said.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend the amendment change to the Fillmore County Board.

In other action, the Board of Adjustment dealt with three variances.

Approved a 20 foot variance for Sumner Township to build a rock, sand and salt shed near their Township Hall.
The shed would abut to a church parking lot.

Approved a 25 foot variance for Reagan Miller of Sumner Township to build a grain bin within 75 feet of the center of the township road.

Denied, by a 2-1 vote, a 90 foot variance to Gregory Jensen of Preble Township to build a cabin within a protected trout stream. Jensen presently has a trailer on the site, 50 feet from the stream, and argued that it would be a hardship to move septic systems and other infrastructure. Jensen supported his case with a letter from DNR hydrologist Bob Bezek who said that the DNR would not object to the variance if the commission found hardship.

The commission approved conditional use permits for three sawmills: Jacob R. Hershberger, Canton Township; Jacob Schwartzentruber, Canton Township; and Perry Glick, Preston Township.

The commission raised some concerns about stockpiling of sawdust on the Glick operation. They placed a condition that would give the sawmill one year to eliminate the present sawdust pile and would limit future piles to no larger than 40 feet wide and 20 feet high.

The commission also approved a conditional use permit for Ulland Brothers to operate a sandpit in Beaver Township.

All four conditional use permits will be referred to the Fillmore County Board for approval.

The next meeting of the Planning Commission will be Thursday, July 26.

John Torgrimson

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