County Commission Continues Work On Zoning Ordinance

The Yankton County Commission is continuing to try and come to a consensus with its Planning Commission counterparts over proposed changes to Article 5 of the county’s zoning ordinance.

During Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Yankton County Commission, the board once again held a discussion, informally inviting members of the Planning Commission, to go over previous feedback from planning commissioners and decide what language to move forward with.

Due to the length of Tuesday’s discussion, not all elements were covered before press time.

One of the main pints discussed was a proposal to keep the minimum lot size at 20 acres with the option for agribusinesses to buy at a 5 acre minimum.

Commission chairperson Cheri Loest said that the Planning Commission proposed striking the agribusiness definition.

“They cautioned about what happens if someone builds an agri-business and says, ‘Well, I’m going to start living here there,’” she said. “We have co-habitation of uses, the business fails and they say, ‘Oh well, we’re just going to keep living here, we’ve got 5 acres and we’re happy.’ That’s kind of the concern.”

Commissioner Joseph Healy said that he’s for adding language forbidding this.

“I think it would be fairly simple,” he said. “Any plat under 20 acres approved after the adoption of this ordinance shall not be suitable for a home.”

He said that leaving it at 20 acres with no exception for a 5-acre agribusiness exception could prove problematic down the road.

“I will guarantee you if we leave it at 20, there’s going to be someone within five years that’s  going to be here for a variance or an agribusiness and we’re either going to not abide by our ordinance — aka, break the law — or someone’s going to vote against it and they’re going to be the a-hole because they’re the ones following the ordinance,” he said.

Commissioner Wanda Howey-Fox said it’s ultimately impossible to fend off all litigation.

“We cannot legislate away every possible thing or every possible lawsuit,” she said. “We will be frozen in time much like the last three years.”

Commissioners ultimately decided to keep the definition of agribusiness as is and decided that language shall be added forbidding the construction of a residence on agribusiness land.

No formal action was taken regarding Tuesday’s discussion on Article 5 and the matter will be discussed once again at the May 18 County Commission meeting.

“At the next County Commission meeting, we’re going to review the final document and make sure everything we discussed tonight is in there how we want it,” Loest said. “Then it’s going to the Planning Commission.”

No public comment was taken on the matter during the discussion but Loest did ask the audience if anyone wanted to speak on Article 5 during the first public comment period. There were no comments on the matter.

The board expects to formally consider the proposed changes sometime this summer.

In other business Tuesday, the board:

• Rejected a variance.

• Approved a new health plan for county employees.

• Held a discussion on the county’s marijuana policy.

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