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County Board denies Moulton Rezoning Application

Fri, Nov 7th, 2008
Posted in Government

PRESTON - At their November 4 regular meeting the Fillmore County Board unanimously approved a resolution denying the rezoning request from agricultural to industrial requested by Dan Moulton of Chatfield Township. Zoning Administrator Norman Craig noted that the Planning and Zoning Committee already held a public hearing on the request at their October 16 meeting. The committee unanimously recommended that the request be denied.

Moulton lives within a half mile of the Chatfield city limits on County Road 5. He currently has a rural home based business raising chinchillas and renting semi-trailers. Craig said that the request to do light manufacturing in the recycling of wood pallets would not qualify for a rural based business because he expects to have more than one employee.

Craig insisted that the rezoning request was only for a small piece of ground including two buildings and an access driveway. Craig noted that industrial businesses including Strongwell and Tuohy Furniture and a trucking business are close by. He criticized the city of Chatfield for allowing a subdivision to be built near the industrial area. Commissioner Marc Prestby asked about the past history of the property. Craig stated that the property has been used in the past for manufacturing by Tuohy Furniture. Prestby asked if it was taxed as a commercial property at that time. Craig replied that it has always been zoned agricultural.

Commissioner Duane Bakke agreed with much of what Craig said. He called the subdivision located near the industrial area a "classical" case of poor zoning. However, Bakke cited the county ordinance and its direction for the county to cooperate with what cities want in this half mile area outside the city limits. He suggested that the county has always made zoning changes like this with the city's blessing in the past.

Bakke maintained that the idea of recycling pallets was a good idea. Moulton currently has a pallet recycling business in Rochester which employs ten people. However, the recycling business does not conform to the zoning in the area. Moulton is under a time constraint and must move the business out of Rochester by the middle of November.

At the committee public hearing, Chatfield Township represented by supervisor David Ahern supported the change in zoning. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud spoke against it at the public hearing and again at the county board meeting. He cited the lack of city support and no access to city water and services which raise safety concerns. Amunrud agreed that some of the city's planning was not well thought out.

Chairman Randy Dahl asked if there was any way to put conditions on the industrial use. Bakke replied that there wasn't with the current ordinances. He questioned whether there should be some changes made to the ordinances to address possible conditions for industrial use when a property lies within one half mile of a municipality.

Having denied Moulton's request the commissioners by consensus were in favor of working on an amendment to the ordinance to allow for conditional use. This change would require a public hearing.

Other Business

• County Assessor Cynthia Blagsvedt discussed the state's Aggregate Resource Preservation Property Tax Law. She suggested that the law would be more appropriate in the northern part of the state. The law applies to mining on ten continuous acres. She noted that she had not found any parcels in the county with mining on ten acres. She didn't think it would be worthwhile to adopt the law. The law allows counties to opt out of the law. There is a requirement for a public hearing which the board scheduled for December 2 at 10:00 a.m.

• County Coordinator Karen Brown announced that six candidates had been interviewed for Zoning Administrator to replace retiring Norman Craig. Christopher Graves has been selected and he will start in the position on December 1.

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