Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 22, 2018

Supervisors deny subdivision plot

By Xiomara Levsen | Aug 03, 2017



There were several questions about a minor subdivision application being reviewed at the supervisors meeting Tuesday morning.

The application was an application from Spence Family Trust to subdivide 2.44 acres located at 1930 170th Street in Wellman into two lots, so another residence could be added on the property, said Washington County subdivision coordinator Kelly Dougall.

During the public hearing, supervisor Jack Seward Jr. said in his experience dealing with septic systems he understood an acre and a half was needed for a private septic system.

“Now, we’re talking about 2.44 acres for the two lots together, but yet this application states that they’re each going to have their own separate septic system,” Seward said.

Dougall said this was correct. The area was inspected by Washington County’s environmental health director Jennine Wolf, who signed off on the application before giving the application to the supervisors to review.

Seward also asked about the application, stating the present land use being agricultural and the proposed land use being agricultural.

“That’s a little confusing,” Seward said.

“I would agree,” Dougall said, “and I would also say that the proposed use would not be agricultural because they’re going to putting a residence on there, but I think when they filled that out they’re saying at the time this would be approved this is what it’s going to be. He does not plan on building anything for well over a year, so when we are doing the proposed application — the residence won’t be there in any near future, so it will in fact be ag. I don’t think it’s trying to be misleading. That’s how it will be for quite a while.”

Mike Freel owns the hog buildings adjacent to the property. He was concerned about having a new residence built by his hog buildings and what could happen in the future.

“I guess I’m just concerned of legal issues in the future with a new residence being put up that close to my buildings,” Freel said.

Supervisor Abe Miller asked Freel if the Spence family lived in the area. Freel replied no. They’re from Cedar Rapids.

“Obviously, they have to be aware,” Miller said. “I would think you were existing prior to them building a house there. I don’t know the legal issue with that, but I would think they surely do not have much of a case.”

Washington county attorney John Gish said he wouldn’t be able to comment because any legal issues would be considered a civil matter.

Dougall said she shared Miller’s thoughts about Freel being OK because he was already there. The applicants are aware the hog lot is there and still wanted to have the new residence built there.

“Well, as long as you’re talking about what the concerns would be in the future,” Seward said, “how about in the future the Freel hog facility there was going to be either improved, added to or expanded?”

“Then we would review it,” Dougall said. “I can’t say — anything could happen in the future, so I can’t speculate on that, but if he was going to add and put an additional hog lot [in] he would go through the same process Spence subdivision is going through. Just meet our requirements.”

Seward said he didn’t think Freel could do that with a residence so close.

“We have nothing that says we can’t,” Dougall said.

Without zoning, there is only a subdivision ordinance that dictates how much a person can split a property up, she added.

“As far as building hog lots, that’s strictly up to the DNR,” Miller said. “They’re regulating all of that; that’s got nothing to do with the county whatsoever.”

After the public hearing was closed, Seward said he was still concerned about the use and the requirements.

“I know you said it was the DNR’s rules and regulations but still I have a concern about a plan to put houses next to a hog facility on ag use — that’s my concern,” Seward said. “They come to us now with an application that says this is dividing up an ag lot, but we know because of the application and the statements that have been made that they’re planning on putting houses there. That’s a little misleading and I don’t know whether it’s a misrepresentation and something we need to worry about or not.”

Seward also noted representatives from the Spence Family Trust weren’t at the meeting to answer his questions. He also said this subdivision would be in an agricultural area, and he was concerned what impacts this could have in the future.

“Until I talk with the environmental department and maybe get some of these other questions answered that’s where I’m at right now,” Seward added. “I have some questions about this and whether I would support it or not.”

Supervisor Stan Stoops asked Dougall if the proposed subdivision would be on the property already there.

“Yes,” Dougall answered, “so it’s taking land he already had and just splitting it in half.”

Stoops said they weren’t looking at other subdivisions in the county that were close to hog lots. He said if Seward felt uncomfortable moving forward with the subdivision he wouldn’t mind tabling it for a week.

“It’s on the agenda for us to approve or disapprove and I guess I’d be willing to go with the vote,” Seward replied.

Supervisor Bob Yoder said he wanted to table it for a week because he had a hard time approving an application when the applicant wasn’t present.

Stoops asked Seward who he would speak to with to get answers to the questions he raised about the application.

“I guess I’d have to have some conversations with the county attorney’s office, for one, and No. 2, probably with the DNR,” Seward said. “I don’t know if we can table it at this point because a motion has been made and there was a second.”

Miller called for a roll call vote on a resolution to approve the subdivision application since board chairman Richard Young was absent. The resolution failed. Seward and Yoder were the dissenting votes.

“I guess we’ll table it,” Miller said. “We don’t have a majority vote. Is that correct?”

“It takes a majority vote to pass a resolution,” Seward said. “Since it’s a tie, it’s not an approved resolution, so we’ll have to put it on the agenda again in the future.”






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