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Zoning board will rehash issue of on-site ag housing Monday

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Planning Commission is expected to get answers Monday night to questions members had last month about a proposal to allow on-site housing for livestock agriculture.

If the answers are sufficient, the seven-member board, which includes one county commissioner and six appointed community members, is expected to vote on a proposal to amend the county's zoning ordinance to allow -- as a conditional use -- multi-unit employee housing for animal agriculture operations. Conditional uses require a permit.

Bruce Reuss, a former member of the Planning Commission and chairman of the Agri-Business and Renewable Energy Committee of the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission, petitioned the county to amend the ordinance.

He said the change was needed to help livestock agriculture grow and be competitive in Kandiyohi County.

During the public hearing last month, developers of the proposed $60 million Meadow Star Dairy project in St. Johns Township near Pennock spoke in favor of the amendment.

They want to be allowed to build high-density housing on the farm for employees. The Planning Commission denied their request two years ago.

Several community members from St. Johns Township spoke against the proposal.

Zoning administrator Gary Geer recommended that the request be denied.

After 2½ hours of intense discussion last month, the planning commissioners determined they didn't have enough information to make a decision, even though a motion was on the table to approve the amendment.

The commission unanimously approved a motion to postpone a decision until Monday.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. on the second floor of the Health and Human Services Building in Willmar.

In the meantime, Geer was given the task of researching questions the members had about the potential ramifications of amending the ordinance.

Carolyn Lange

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

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