Archive for Thursday, September 24, 2009

Agricultural zoning clears planning commission hurdle

September 24, 2009

The De Soto Planning Commission ended a 14-month effort Tuesday with adoption of a rural zoning classification it recommended the De Soto City Council approve.

The planning commissioners' lengthy consideration of the new rural zoning wasn’t entirely its choice. The city council first instructed planning commissioners to create a rural zoning classification, then decided against such a measure out of fear that could encourage more agricultural land use in the city and finally reversing that decision again once numerous rural residents spoke in favor of a rural zoning classification during a March public hearing.

The rural zoning has been a work in progress since a joint council/planning commission in June and its discussion consumed much of the August planning commission meeting. The document with its supporting definitions and appendixes regulates and defines uses in the city's rural agricultural, or RA, zoning. State law forbids cities from preventing existing agricultural uses on properties in incorporated areas unless there has been a 12-month interruption of the uses.

The rural agricultural or RA zoning would define those uses that would be allowed, which would require a special use permit and those that would be prohibited on RA properties. Regularly allowed uses include crop and animal production. Among the prohibited activities would be large-scale livestock production involving feedlots or enclosed pig or poultry operations.

It appeared for a time Tuesday that planning commissioners would have to tackle the zoning again next month. The problem was planning commissioners concerns with the 30 new definitions city planner Linda Bohnsack included. They expressed concern the definitions weren't in the text of the core document and were therefore unneeded, were inconsistent with wording in that text or were unenforceable.

Planning commissioner marked up the definitions or were unable to come to an agreement on such definitions as that for "feed lot," causing Planning Commissioner Kevin Honomichl to wonder if the measure could be approved this month.

The solution, also suggested by Honomichl, was to approve the text of the zoning classification without the definitions, which the planning commission will address at a later date.

City engineer Mike Brungardt said the solution shouldn't concern the city council, at least in the short term. The text in other city zoning classifications don't define traditional economic activities but just refer to them.

Bohnsack applied many of the regulation on such things as setbacks and accessory buildings of the city's rural residential zoning — its least restrictive — to the RA zoning. However at planning commissioners' suggestion last month, those restrictions on RA properties of 10 or more acres were further relaxed.


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