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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee plans to hold a public hearing in April on a proposed revision to the land division ordinance to manage residential density by ratio in unzoned townships.
The language in the revision is consistent with the language in the zoning ordinance under general agricultural zoning dealing with density, said Tom Carlson, county surveyor, at the Planning, Resources and Development Committee’s February 23 meeting.
According to the proposed revision, “for contiguous tracts subject to county zoning, the maximum residential density shall be determined in accordance with the Dunn County Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance.”
The remainder of the proposed revision would apply to contiguous tracts of land not subject to county zoning.
According to the proposed revision, “The maximum residential density shall be 1 lot per 8 acres (1:8).”
“It is inevitable that we will have rounding,” Carlson said, noting that property ownership in the county is not all neatly divided into 40-acre parcels.
As an example, a 31-acre parcel divided by the density of 8 acres equals 3.875.
In situations where the fraction is .8 or higher, the number of parcels would be rounded up one, Carlson said.
A 31-acre parcel, under the proposed revision, could be divided into four lots total, although each lot would not have to be eight acres.
The minimum lot size in the proposed revision is one acre, so the 31-acre parcel could be divided into three one-acre lots and one 28-acre lot — or three two-acre lots and one 25-acre lot — or three five-acre lots and one 16-acre lot.
After the 31-acre lot is divided into four lots, however, no matter the number of acres per lot, no more land divisions would be available. If the parcel were divided into three two-acre lots and one 25-acre lot, for example, the 25-acre lot could not be divided into another three lots.
A residence that already exists on a parcel that is going to be subdivided counts toward the residential density, Carlson said.
According to the proposed revision, “Any dwelling unit existing on a contiguous tract shall count as a parcel in determining the maximum residential density allowed under this subsection.”
The proposed revision also defines a dwelling as, “A residential structure or portion thereof, containing separate and complete living area, for one family, not including boarding houses, camping trailers, hotels, motor homes, or motels.”
The proposed revision also does not allow parcels to be created that would not allow at least one residence.
According to the proposed revision, “No parcel shall be created which does not carry with it the allowance for at least one dwelling unit under the density calculation unless such parcel is permanently deed-restricted to nonresidential use.”
At the last PR&D meeting, Gary Bjork, county board supervisor from Colfax and a member of the PR&D committee, had asked about creating a parcel for a nonresidential use, such as grain storage bins, for example.
Parcels created for non-residential purposes could be deed restricted for no dwelling units under this section of the proposed ordinance, Carlson said.
Less than 8
The proposed ordinance revision also addresses those parcels that are less than eight acres and parcels that are between eight acres and 16 acres.
Any parcels under eight acres are not eligible to be subdivided under the proposed ordinance revision, Carlson said.
In addition, if someone sold a 10-acre parcel out of a 40-acre parcel, the 10 acres also could not be subdivided, he said.
For parcels that are greater than eight acres but smaller than 16 acres existing at the time the revised ordinance was adopted, then those parcels could be divided into one additional parcel, Carlson said.
“There are many, many of them (greater than eight and smaller than 16 acres) in Dunn County,” he said.
For example, a 12-acre parcel could be divided into two lots. Since the minimum lot size is one acre, the division could be one acre and 11 acres, or could be two acres and 10 acres, or three acres and nine acres, or could be four acres and eight acres or two six-acre parcels.
The proposed revision to the land division ordinance does not allow any variances.
If someone owns six acres, for example, that person could not ask for a variance to divide the parcel into two three-acre parcels or one one-acre parcel and one five-acre parcel.
If the standard outlined in the revised land division ordinance is the standard that PR&D committee members are comfortable with, then there is no reason to grant variances, Carlson said.
Under the minor subdivision section of the proposed revision, “creation of a lot smaller than 20 acres from a contiguous tract shall require a certified survey map. A maximum of 5 lots smaller than 20 acres may be created within a contiguous tract in a 5-year-period.”
The previous draft of the land division ordinance revision referred to four lots smaller than 20 acres in a five-year period, Carlson said.
If a landowner wanted to create all of the lots available for a contiguous tract of land in one year, “the lots must be created by county plat or state plat,” according to the ordinance revision.
Mike Kneer, county board supervisor from Menomonie and a member of the PR&D committee, noted that he owns five acres but would never want to subdivide his acreage and wondered how many other landowners in Dunn County with smaller acreage, even if it were eligible for subdivision, would not want to subdivide.
The PR&D committee must find out what people think about the proposed revision, and the public hearing will be an opportunity to hear from county residents, he said.
Tom Quinn, county board supervisor from Downing and chair of the PR&D committee, noted that there are alternative options for land division, but the proposed revision will work to control density.
Although PR&D committee members had initially believed the public hearing on the proposed revisions to the land division ordinance could be held at the second meeting in March, Carlson and Bob Colson, Dunn County zoning administrator, pointed out there are other public hearings that must be held as well and that it would be better to plan on holding the public hearing for the revision to the land division ordinance in April.
Townships that have adopted county zoning in Dunn County include the Towns of Sheridan, Wilson (exclusive agriculture), Tiffany, Hay River, Otter Creek, Grant (exclusive agriculture), Sherman, Tainter, Colfax, Lucas (exclusive agriculture), Menomonie, Red Cedar, Weston, Dunn, Peru and Stanton.
Townships that have not adopted county zoning in Dunn County include the Towns of New Haven, Sand Creek, Elk Mound, Spring Brook, Eau Galle and Rock Creek.