Supervisors approve interim Zoning Administrator, discuss changes to cropland portion of County Farm lease and Allamakee County Comprehensive Plan as it nears approval

by Joe Moses

The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors met in regular session Monday, November 30 to address a full agenda of items including consideration of the 2020 Allamakee County Comprehensive Plan, the appointment of an interim Planning and Zoning Administrator and discussion of the cropland portion of the County Farm lease for years 2021 to 2023.

During Public Comment, Executive Director Val Reinke of Allamakee County Economic Development (ACED) reported that she has seen several positive comments on social media from business owners relating to the busy weekend within the county with recent weather conditions being a positive. Reinke discussed ongoing promotions in Lansing and Waukon encouraging the public to shop and dine locally. Reinke also said that the Allamakee Energy District is planning for its next meeting to include information relating to the potential of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Lansing to benefit tourism and that a video relating to solar panels in West Union will be viewed which may be of interest from the city, hospital and school perspective in Allamakee County.

The Supervisors moved into the consideration of adopting the County’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan. On behalf of the Board of Supervisors, Chairperson Larry Schellhammer thanked Allamakee County Zoning Administrator Tom Blake for his years of service to the County with Blake retiring as of that same day of the meeting, November 30.
Schellhammer discussed the review of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan, which was on the agenda the previous week and scheduled to be on the agenda two additional weeks to allow for public input. Blake advised that he has not received any feedback relating to the 2020 Comprehensive Plan other than a recent phone call from Nancy Walleser, formerly on the Board of Adjustment, with a few suggested changes.

Schellhammer and Supervisors Dan Byrnes and Dennis Koenig discussed the suggested text changes proposed by Walleser. Schellhammer announced that the 2020 Comprehensive Plan will be included on the December 7 Board of Supervisors meeting agenda to allow for additional public comment with final approval to take place at that meeting.

The Supervisors discussed the appointment of an interim Planning and Zoning Administrator. Schellhammer suggested that an interim person in this position would be advisable to assume these duties during the time used to advertise the position and for the interview process. Blake discussed the advertisement to be placed in local newspapers and that urban newspapers may be cost prohibitive with Reinke suggesting that online options also be pursued including those available at colleges and universities offering degrees in urban planning and listings with professional resources including the Iowa League of Cities.

Blake said that the appointment of an interim person would be advisable with the Planning and Zoning Commission required to meet monthly by State Code. Blake added that Administrative Assistant Mandy O’Neill will be attending those meetings in his place. Blake provided an overview of Zoning Administrator responsibilities, public hearings and various applications that will need to be addressed in the coming months.

Blake suggested that O’Neill and Environmental Health Director Laurie Moody could be appointed as interim Zoning Administrators. Byrnes recommended that Moody be appointed for the interim position with O’Neill designated to receive emails serving the clerical portion of this role. Following discussion, the Supervisors approved Moody as the interim Planning and Zoning Administrator with O’Neill to receive emails associated with the Zoning Administrator position.

The Supervisors discussed a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission relating to a change in zoning districts requested by Nicholas Palmer for 429 and 433 Big Foot Road, Monona and to establish a public hearing relating to this change. Blake indicated that Palmer owns three parcels, all currently zoned as R1 single family residential, which are being requested for a change to R3 to allow multi-family residences. Blake provided an overview of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation to change two parcels to R3 allowing a house to be converted to a duplex for short-term rental and a storage building to be converted to a four-plex with the third parcel to remain as R1.

Blake advised that Palmer has suggested the third parcel could be used as a cabin site in the future, which would be allowed as R1 single family residential. Blake added that Palmer has withdrawn a request to develop the third parcel as a campground after negative feedback was received from neighboring property owners. The Supervisors approved setting 9:40 a.m. Monday, December 14 as the Public Hearing for this zoning change request.

The County Farm lease for 2021 to 2023 was reviewed by the Supervisors with Byrnes clarifying that only the cropland portion of the lease was being discussed at Monday’s meeting with the pasture portion of the lease remaining unchanged. Schellhammer and Byrnes discussed the specific changes to the text of the cropland portion of the lease relating to rental payment methods and schedules. The Supervisors approved the cropland lease with changes.

Under Department Head Updates, Moody provided an overview of a permit renewal for the Allamakee County Public Safety Center relating to water discharge. Moody also discussed brush control planning used by the Secondary Roads Department and further discussed the Zoning Administrator vacancy and recommended posting the employment opportunity online with college job boards and that advertising the position in southwest Wisconsin newspapers may be beneficial as well.

Prior to adjournment, Allamakee County Auditor Denise Beyer indicated that her office is preparing to do valuations and preparing to send out budget worksheets to all County department heads.

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