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Olivia, Renville County zoning split now up to County Board

OLIVIA -- A dispute between the city of Olivia and Renville County over a landowner's request to rezone land in the city's urban expansion zone is now in the hands of the County Board of Commissioners.

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Submitted map of proposed rezoning

OLIVIA - A dispute between the city of Olivia and Renville County over a landowner's request to rezone land in the city's urban expansion zone is now in the hands of the County Board of Commissioners.

At their meeting Tuesday, the commissioners took up discussions over a recent recommendation by the county's Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone an 11Β½-acre parcel in the city's urban expansion zone to agricultural use. The zoning change would allow Sawyer Tersteeg to apply for a conditional use permit to operate a commercial seed storage operation on his land along U.S. Highway 212 east of Olivia. He previously moved the former Palmer School Bus garage to the site.

Olivia is not opposed to Tersteeg having a commercial seed operation there, City Attorney Aaron Walton told the commissioners on Tuesday. But the city is "disappointed" that the Planning Commission recommended rezoning the site to make it possible, according to Walton.

"We don't think this is the right way,'' he said.

Rezoning would start the erosion of the city's urban expansion district, which the city and county jointly created in 2016 as a means to manage growth in the area immediately east of the city limits on the south side of U.S. Highway 212.

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The city would prefer to see the land annexed into the city, in which case it would be possible to operate the commercial seed business under city zoning for a highway/commercial area, he told the commissioners.

Since the landowner is not interested in annexation, Walton said the city's second preferred outcome would be for the county to revise the text of the urban expansion zone ordinance to allow commercial seed operations.

County Board Chairman Randy Kramer expressed his interest in pursuing a change to the urban expansion zone text as well.

"It's a better outcome than doing the rezoning,'' he said.

Rezoning the area opens up the possibility that other piecemeal requests for zoning changes could be made by other landowners in the future, it was noted during discussions.

Sawyer Tersteeg and his father, Randy, told the commissioners they prefer to see the land rezoned. Discussions that included five attorneys at a previous Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the issue left them concerned that revising the text for the urban expansion zone would be very difficult and time-consuming.

Sawyer Tersteeg said he's been working for about 1Β½ years at this point to launch his business and wants to get going on it.

The commissioners have until Nov. 29 to take action on the rezoning recommendation. They could take an up or down vote on the Planning Commission's recommendation at their Oct. 23 meeting. Or, they could delay a vote and launch the process of revising the text of the urban expansion district.

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The city and county are looking to resolve the rift.

Mary Jo Halliday, planning and zoning administrator for the city, said the city would like to be part of the discussions at the onset when proposals come to the county involving the urban expansion zone. The city found itself in the position of reacting to the rezoning request after it moved to the level of a public hearing, she said.

Randy Tersteeg said that he and his son had initially contacted city representatives about commercial uses for the site, but no one met with them and they felt they were being turned away.

Shelby Lindrud / Tribune Renville County is considering a request by Sawyer Tersteeg to rezone his property east of Olivia to allow him to rent out space in the former Palmer bus garage to seed corn companies for seed storage. The city of Olivia opposes the change as spot zoning in the area designated as an urban expansion zone.
Shelby Lindrud / Tribune file photo Renville County is considering a request by Sawyer Tersteeg to rezone his property east of Olivia to allow him to rent out space in the former Palmer bus garage to seed corn companies for seed storage. The city of Olivia opposes the rezoning.

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