County land use ordinance amended for animal units

by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer


The Morrison County Board approved a resolution amending portions of the Land Use Control Ordinance that affect the number of animal units allowed on certain sizes of land parcels, July 23.

Animal units are based on a 1,000-pound scale. A cow is one animal unit if less than 1,000 pounds and 1.4 units if more than 1,000 pounds. A horse is one unit. A pig is .4 units if more than 300 pounds and .3 units if between 55 and 300 pounds. Chickens are .005 units if more than 5 pounds and .003 if less than 5 pounds.

“We try to do an amendment a couple times a year,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber. “New circumstances come up that no one thought of.”

Section 301 adds language specifying that any intensification, enlargement or expansion of an already-approved use will be allowed only as a conditional use. That would require residents to apply for a conditional use permit.

Changes to Section 1205 include the separation of agricultural districts from being grouped with urban fringe (UF) and rural residential (RR) districts.

For the UF and RR parcels that are between five and 10 acres, two animal units are permitted.

Now, agricultural parcels between five and 10 acres are allowed to have no more than two animal units, with an additional .5 animal unit for each additional acre owned above five acres. That would allow for a maximum of four animal units.

No changes were made to other size parcel requirements. Currently, on agricultural land parcels more than 2.5 acres in size and less than five acres, no more than one animal unit will be allowed. For the UF and RR parcels that size, no more than 1.5 animal units will be allowed.

All districts allow for .3 animal units on parcels smaller than 2.5 acres and one animal unit per acre for parcels from 10.1 to 19.99 acres.

“The Section 300 amendment was adopted to allow the county a more reasonable approach to dealing with legally existing commercial uses that wish to expand,” said Planning and Zoning Administrator Amy Kowalzek. “Rezones don’t always make sense and sometimes aren’t compatible with our comprehensive plan. Now we can offer another option for controlled commercial expansion when it makes sense.”

“The section 1200 amendment was made in response to violations of our previous standard addressing animals on small acreage within the agriculture zoning district. After considering the general purpose of the agriculture zoning district and how our standard compared to surrounding counties, the decision was made to expand the number of animal units allowed on small acreage, just within agriculture zoning districts,” Kowalzek said.

The public hearing process in place for ordinance changes was followed.

“We’ve pondered this thing to death,” said Commissioner Don Meyer.

“The Land Use Control Ordinance is a document designed to change as various issues arise or as policy makers change viewpoints based in constituent feedback,” Gruber said. “We generally plan to bring ordinance revision suggestions to the Board for consideration at least two times per year. This was one of those typical ordinance revision cycles, only minimal changes were proposed.”