A1 standards go unchanged for now

Friday, April 12, 2019

The development standards for the Agriculture 1 district will wait another month, probably at least two, until a change comes.

The Putnam County Plan Commission has been talking for close to a year about possibly changing the minimum lot size in A1 from five acres and 350 feet of frontage to three acres and 200 feet.

With strong feelings on both sides of the issue, the commission looked at it from a different perspective on Thursday.

What if standards don’t change but the willingness of the Board of Zoning Appeals to grant variances does?

“What can we do to make the zoning board a bit more lenient?” commission member and County Surveyor David Penturf asked.

While the answer isn’t clear, it seems that some of it comes down to the power of words.

As currently written, to get a development standard variance, petitioners must prove that keeping the land at a larger parcel size and in ag production would place an “unnecessary hardship” on them.

County Attorney Jim Ensley noted that in other counties the word choice is instead “practical difficulties.” While both are subjective standards, “practical difficulties” nonetheless seems easier to prove.

In this light, the commission chose to again table the matter of development standards on Thursday.

Rather than focusing on acres and feet, the members asked Ensley to look into language that can open up the BZA’s interpretation.

“We need some guidelines,” BZA President Ray McCloud said. “We’re not going to stick completely to that. Each case, we look at individually and lay it out.”

Ensley will look into the wording options and bring it before the commission for approval in May.

Even if members like the new wording, changes to the ordinance would have to be advertised for public hearing, making approval no earlier than June.

The commission unanimously approved tabling the matter and asking Ensley to open up the language of the ordinance.

The Putnam County Plan Commission will next meet on Thursday, May 9 at the Putnam County Courthouse.

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  • Rural growth and development will happen as our population increases. If the goal is to preserve productive land for farming uses, the commission should not want to require too large of a lot size. In the past, productive farming land was included in sell offs to individuals wanting a place in the country to build a home because of the lot size requirement. Due to varying nature of different parcels, the commission should maintain a policy that allows for case by case determinations whenever possible.

    -- Posted by rawinger on Sat, Apr 13, 2019, at 9:03 AM
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