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Dunn County considering zoning changes for utilities, R1, agri-tourism

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Board is considering changes to the county’s comprehensive zoning code related to utilities, residential, and agri-tourism.

The Dunn County Board accepted the proposed changes for a first reading at the board’s May 20 meeting.

Changes to the zoning code for utilities involve land owned by Xcel Energy and solar panels for Dunn Energy, said Bob Walter, county board supervisor from Menomonie and chair of the Planning, Resources and Development Committee.

Xcel Energy owns land in the Town of Peru in the Tyrone area. The Town of Peru has zoned all of the Xcel land as conservancy. The Town of Peru and Xcel representatives have met and have agreed to zone some of the Xcel land as General Agriculture, Walter explained.

The county’s new zoning code does not adequately deal with public utilities, he said.

The Dunn Energy Cooperative is working with members on developing a field of solar panels. The cooperative members will have the opportunity to buy portions of the solar panels, but there is no provision in the zoning ordinance, Walter said.

In the Residential 1 district in the Town of Menomonie, residents would like to keep animals, such as horses and chickens. The number of allowable animal units from the state statutes will be added to the county’s zoning ordinance, Walter said.

According to a chart in the proposed change to the zoning ordinance, milking and dry cows will be considered 1.4 animal units each; ducks, per bird, will be .2 animal units; sheep, goats and llamas will be .1 animal unit each; a horse or a pony will be 1 animal unit each.

Paddocks where animals are kept in a residential area must be fenced, and the fences will be required to be two feet off the property line so the fences are not a line fence for which half the cost must be shared by the neighbor, Walter said.

As for agri-tourism, under the current zoning code, people wishing to run an agri-tourism business must seek a rezone to commercial, Walter said.

Under the proposed change, agri-tourism will be allowed without a zoning change to commercial, he said.

The proposed changes to the Intensive Agriculture (IA) and Primary Agriculture (PA) zones are technical changes in the language to line up with state requirements after the state reviewed the zoning code, Walter said.

Shoreland zoning

The Dunn County Board also accepted for a first reading a new version of the county’s shoreland zoning ordinance.

The shoreland zoning ordinance was rewritten to align with state statutes, Walter said.

The new proposed ordinance includes rule changes related to impervious surfaces, he said.

The rules in the proposed ordinance also are relaxed regarding the ability of property owners to maintain and upgrade non-conforming cabins, he said.

The new shoreland zoning ordinance includes a provision for land owners to request adjacent lots owned by the same person to be combined into one tax parcel, Walter said.

The shoreland zoning ordinance also includes language changes that make it more readable, he noted.

Wilson and Menomonie

The third comprehensive zoning ordinance change taken up by the Dunn County Board involved requests from the Town of Wilson to change certain parcels from Primary Agriculture (PA) to General Agriculture (GA), and from the Town of Menomonie to change certain parcels from Residential 1 to General Agriculture.

The PR&D Committee recommended all of the changes except an R1 parcel owned by Robert Hulbert.

Hulbert spoke to the county board during the public comments portion of the meeting and said he was requesting that his R1 property also be changed to GA.

The Menomonie Town Board had approved all of the R1 parcels to be rezoned to GA.

At the PR&D Committee’s April 28 meeting, committee members questioned rezoning the Hulbert property to GA because it would be surrounded on three sides by R1 zoning and would not be consistent with the county’s land use plan.

State law stipulates that zoning must be consistent with a land use plan.

The Dunn County Board voted 16 “yes” to 13 “no” to send the Hulbert rezone back to the PR&D committee for approval, which means the committee has no choice but to approve the zoning change.

The zoning ordinance changes will come back to the Dunn County Board for approval as a second reading at the June meeting.

Other business

In other business, the Dunn County Board:

• Amended the Dunn County ordinances to include additional ATV/UTV routes: Town of Tiffany, 171st Street to 1070th Avenue; Town of Sand Creek, 1390th Avenue to 860th Street.

• Approved a resolution opposing the proposed reduction in the state budget for recycling grant funding and opposing the proposal to eliminate funding for UW-Extension SHWEC and the UW-System Solid Waste Research program and supporting the full use of the recycling fee as the source of funding for financial assistance to municipalities. The source for the grants is a $7 per ton recycling fee, which generates an average of $34 million per year. The recycling fee is still $7 per ton, but the funding available for grants has gone from $30 million in 2008 to $15 million in the proposed budget. County board members noted that it is not clear where the state is spending the additional $15 million generated by recycling fees.

• Denied a claim for $225,000 from Suzanne Falter that alleges transfer station staff at the Elk Mound facility were helping her put a sofa into a dumpster in September of 2012 when the sofa fell on her and allegedly caused injury.