Cuming County’s new comprehensive plan could be finalized before the end of the year, those attending a public meeting last Wednesday night in West Point found out. Then the real work begins.
Once work on updating the current plan is wrapped up, attention then will shift to the county’s zoning laws.
When the current laws were written 13 years ago, there was much discussion about what’s become known as the “40-acre rule.”
It’s that part of the county’s zoning law that says any new home that’s built in the county’s “agricultural intense” district be built on 40 or more acres. The law actually required 160 acres for a new home to be built in ag intense areas of the county, but a conditional use permit can be applied for to build on 40 acres.
As noted at last week’s meeting, held at the Nielsen Community Center, the 40-acre rule will likely remain when new zoning laws are written.
But the public’s input will be important, those drafting the comprehensive plan said last week. Attendance at last week’s meeting was low. Other than the members of the steering committee who helped draft the proposed comprehensive plan, only about a 10 other citizens showed up to provide input.
Leading the discussion last week was Amy Haase, Senior Partner with RDg Planning & Design, the firm Cuming County has hired to complete a housing study and help update the comprehensive plan and zoning laws.
Much of last week’s focus was on the county’s land use plan. That’s because, Hasse said, the comprehensive plan is the guiding policy document for all land use and development regulations in those parts of the county not governed by municipalities.
She said the plan that was written in 2000 is good, but that changes are needed because the county has changed. The same will be true when it comes time to upgrade zoning laws.
“What initiated this process is that the county has had these in place for 12 or more years and we’ve learned from it,” she said.
The current comprehensive plan was written to protect the county’s agricultural base. Haase said 95 percent of the rural area still falls into an ag intense or general agricultural districts, but that there are still opportunities for residential development outside of city and village limits.
To that end, one of the plan’s land use principles, the steering committee has decided, should direct community development within and adjacent to municipalities while supporting agriculture.
See full story in the Oct. 16 West Point News