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Planning commission reviews proposed ordinance revisions

WILLMAR -- Proposed revisions to Kandiyohi County's zoning and subdivision ordinances would increase the size of the board of adjustment and change how members of the planning commission are appointed.

The long list of proposed changes, which were reviewed Monday night, recommend that the board of adjustment be increased from three members to five members, and that the members of the planning commission are appointed from each of the county board districts with staggering terms.

The current ordinance doesn't require one Planning Commission member to come from each district.

The proposed changes also include new definitions for residential developments, like a planned unit development, and more specific language for different dwelling units, including twin homes and duplexes.

A public hearing will be held in January.

The purpose of the revisions was to clean up existing language and put the county ordinances more in line with state statutes, said County Zoning Administrator Gary Geer.

Many of the changes are administrative, he said, and won't affect the hot-button zoning issues of gravel mining, feedlots or rural residential developments.

The only time the planning commission raised an eye-brow during the hour-long presentation was during the reading of a proposed change to the animal agriculture section that said all application of liquid hog manure shall be incorporated into the soil immediately.

That generated a discussion on what is worse, hog manure or dairy cow manure.

Chairman Dennis Goehring said he thought the proposal would be unfair to hog farmers if they were required under the county ordinance to immediately incorporate the liquid manure. Tilling the manure into the soil soon after it's applied reduces the odor.

Geer said the proposed wording came at the recommendation of the county feedlot officer on the premise that most people find hog manure odors more objectionable than dairy cow manure. He also said the statute could be a hardship on small dairy farmers. Goehring asked if it wouldn't also be a hardship for small hog farmers.

"I think it's unfair to single out hog producers," said Goehring, who suggested the provision be extended to other livestock producers. "I don't see why the species makes the difference."

Eric Van Dyken, assistant zoning administrator, said there are few, if any, small hog farmers left in the county. He said it would be very restrictive to require small dairy farmers to meet the standard.

The Planning Commission agreed to remove the proposed revision. The requirement can, however, be included as a condition when livestock producers seek a conditional use permit.

In other action the Planning Commission:

- Tabled action on a request by Willmar Poultry Company Inc. for a planned unit development in an R-1 shoreland residential management district on Long Lake, in Dovre Township. The Commission agreed there was inadequate information about road access and septic system capabilities on the site to move ahead with the request. The Commission agreed to address the planned unit development request and preliminary plat at the same time, instead of addressing them separately.

- Approved a request by Randall Ryan for a planned unit development in an R-1 shoreland residential management district on Woodcock Lake.

- Approved rezoning land on County Road 9 Northeast in Kandiyohi Township from agriculture preservation to an R-2 community residence district. The land is in the Willmar urban growth area. One resident questioned if neighbors with livestock would have their rights limited if the hobby farms were surrounded by houses. She also questioned if people with wells and septic systems would be required to hook into the Willmar municipal system if the utilities are extended to the new housing development. Geer said only the land in question would have its zoning changed, and not area farms. He also said the new development would also have private wells and septic systems.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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