Change to zoning ordinance proposed for residential growth within the county

WILLMAR -- A minor change in the Kandiyohi County zoning ordinance could help bring balance to the issue of where people want to build homes and how the land is currently zoned in the county.

WILLMAR -- A minor change in the Kandiyohi County zoning ordinance could help bring balance to the issue of where people want to build homes and how the land is currently zoned in the county.

The Kandiyohi County Planning Commission agreed Monday to recommend that new wording be added to the ordinance that could increase residential development opportunities two miles west of New London.

The action was taken in response to a task the commission was given by the Kandiyohi County board to review residential growth patterns and current zoning ordinances. The planning commission discussed a variety of issues with the county's growth patterns during the last two months and determined that most of the county's comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance was good and should be left alone.

But the commission found one flaw in the flow of residential growth and corresponding zoning standards in the county.

The commission "finds that there is not an appropriate balance between residential development allowances and the need for available land that is appropriately zoned for residential development," wrote Zoning Administrator Gary Geer, in the proposed recommended ordinance change.


As a rule, county residential development is encouraged in areas that are identified as the urban growth boundaries, which is a wide loop that goes around Willmar, New London, Spicer and the lakes surrounding those towns.

Urban growth boundaries are the areas the cities foresee for possible annexation and growth for the future.

The county planning commission encourages growth, and is more inclined to approve requests to rezone property that is currently marked as agriculture or resource management, in those urban growth areas or in areas that are or will soon be supplied with municipal (sewage) services.

Based on current building permit trends, however, New London's urban growth boundary isn't big enough to include areas where residential development is likely to occur. The area the commission targeted is west of New London, on the north and south sides of County Road 40, extending to U.S. Highway 71.

"It's one little area with a lot of little lakes," said Bruce Reuss, who pin-pointed the area on a large county map that was in the board room.

Reuss "hit the nail on the head," said Geer. Much of the land is zoned for agriculture but it's in an area where people expect residential development to occur because of the current development trends and county comprehensive plan.

The city already controls the building permits for that area because of action the City Council took several years ago to extend city building codes within a two-mile radius of the town. The city was able to do that at the time because the county didn't have its own building codes.

Although they control building permits for two miles, the city's identified urban growth boundary doesn't extend for the full two miles to the west and the city doesn't intend to increase it now, Geer said.


The planning commission proposed a change to the zoning ordinance that says residential growth should be encouraged to occur in areas where municipal services are -- or will be -- available, "or within the two mile statutory limits of the city of New London."

The recommendation will be presented to the county board next week. If it's approved there, a public hearing will be held.

If approved, Commissioner Harlan Madsen said it doesn't automatically mean the land will be rezoned for residential development, but it provides the opportunity for it to happen.

Commissioner Dennis Peterson said there needs to be flexibility in the zoning ordinance to allow residential development in areas that "make sense."

The planning commission also approved a conditional use permit for Ron and Kimberly Wothe to operate a winery at their business, Jimmy Appleseed, near Spicer. The couple intends to make and sell wine, initially using grapes grown elsewhere. They will eventually use grapes grown at the orchard.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at or 320-894-9750
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