Zoning hearing draws crowd to view maps

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 2/9/00.

township officers Area residents and township officials were on hand Wednesday night to view the proposed zoning maps drawn up by Stearns County Environmental Services.

More than 40 people attended the Paynesville open house to view and voice their concerns about the zoning proposals.

"One of the biggest concerns the township officers had was how flexible the new zoning ordinance is and how hard would it be to change," said Chelle Benson, Stearns County Environmental Services.

Stearns County has been working on a county-wide zoning ordinance for more than a year. The meeting in Paynesville was only one of several held around the county so township officials, city officers, and residents could view the maps.

Celestine Fischbach, Gary Olmscheid, and Ray Loxtercamp, all officers for Lake Henry Township, look over the proposed zoning for the township.

A major portion of Stearns County is very agricultural. Many portions of the county are seeing housing growth. One of the major questions is how much housing density should exist, Benson said.

Stearns County has 36 townships and 30 cities. According to Benson, some of the townships and cities have planning and zoning while others do not.

Township officers helped determine the zoning designations. Through meetings with the officers, several new districts were created.

The maps identified agricultural zones, residential zones, commercial zones, industrial zones, light industrial zones, as well as municipality, protected lakes, growth boundaries, scenic corridors, and education/ecclesiastical areas.

The agricultural zones are divided into A160, A80, and A40. The residential zones are R1, R5, R10, and R20. The A40 means lots cannot be sold that are smaller than 40 acres. R1 means lots must be one acre in size; R5, five acres; R10, 10 acres; and R20, nothing less than 20 acres.

Over half of Paynesville Township is zoned residential with only eight sections zoned for agriculture (A40). The southern half of Paynesville township around Lake Koronis is zoned R5 and R1. This means lots must be one and five acres in size. The eastern portion of the township is zoned R5 and R10, meaning lots can only be sold in five- and 10-acre parcels.

Lake Henry and Zion townships are zoned A80 with the exception of the cities of Lake Henry and Roscoe.

The western half of Munson Township is zoned A80 while the rest of the township has about 10 sections that are A40.

Benson said the proposed ordinance covers a lot of things. Many are concerns which have come up over the years. "We want to keep areas separate that are not compatible. For instance, keeping clusters of homes away from active farms," she said.

According to the proposed ordinance draft, its purpose is to:

• Protect the public health and safety and welfare of the people in Stearns County;

• Preserve agricultural land and animal agriculture;

• Conserve natural and scenic areas of the county, and to conserve natural resources and open space;

• Promote and provide for the orderly development of agricultural, residential, commercial, and industrial;

• Provide official control to implement the goals and policies included in the Stearns County Comprehensive Plan.

The zoning ordinance also covers shoreland management, floodway districts, and fines.

The Stearns County zoning ordinance is not intended to impair any of the township ordinances. However, where the county ordinance imposes a greater restriction, the county provisions shall prevail.

In February, the county will be holding three zoning ordinance public hearings before finalizing the proposed ordinance. Hearings will be held: Tuesday, Feb. 15: 8 p.m., Melrose High School Audit-orium; Wednesday, Feb. 16: 8 p.m., Rocori High School Auditorium, Cold Spring; and Tuesday, Feb. 22: 1 p.m., First Floor, Administration Center, St. Cloud.

For further information, contact Don Adams, director of Stearns County Environmental Services at 1-800-450-0852 or 320-656-3613.

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