Planners approve two CUP requests despite opposition

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Twice citizens protested plans at the Mower County Planning Commission meeting.

One was a commercial mini-storage facility in eastern Mower County, the other a high-density residential housing development in Lansing Township.

Both times, the county planning commission members said the requests conformed to the county zoning ordinance and recommended approval.

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Both recommendations will be considered Tuesday, May 7, when the Mower County Board of Commissioners holds public hearings beginning at 1:30 p.m.

The county commissioners can accept the planning commission's recommendations and approve conditional use permits or it can deny the requests.

James and Kelli Venkze received the planning commission's endorsement for a commercial mini-storage facility in Section 6, Racine Township.

Diane Benson, rural Grand Meadow, and Bev Weness, rural LeRoy, cast the only "Nay" votes.

In addition to "Aye" votes from McAlister and Bendtsen, Vance Larson, Sargeant, Sheldon Lukes, rural Austin, and Harold Boverhuis, Lansing, all voted to recommend approval of the CUP request.

County planner and zoning administrator Daryl W. Franklin read several letters of opposition and e-mails into the record.

Also, opponents submitted a petition expressing their opposition to the request, citing its alleged intrusion into an agricultural area, traffic safety, security and hours of operation and the fear it would attract other commercial businesses.

Weness said the citizens' concerns were "valid."

"I feel it would be a detriment to the value of their property," he added.

But Bendtsen said, "We do not base our decisions on personal feelings. As far as I can see, this property conforms to the requirements."

Petitioner Jon Olson received the commission's endorsement to develop a 96-acre tract of land in portions of Austin and Lansing townships.

Olson plans to build 48 homes in the $250,000 or more price range on 2-acres lots.

His request was met with even more opposition than the mini-storage petition.

Olson and attorney Craig Johnson argued the proposed development was a natural progression of the city of Austin's residential development and satisfied the requirements for a CUP.

Again several citizens spoke against the request. Among them was Darwin Viker, who said it would despoil the character of the area where residents live on lots ranging from 5-40 acres.

Viker pointed out other area residential development plans, such as that of Lance and Snow Pogones and Dr. and Mrs. James and Kathryn Colescott-Burke, have not been successful

He also echoed other concerns about traffic on narrow township gravel roads and flooding from Turtle Creek. In addition, the presence of a wildlife management area would be threatened, according to Viker.

Again Bendtsen led the commissioners' responses. "I have always been against urban sprawl," Bendtsen said, "but I think this request conforms to the law."

Bendtsen said the current land owners "moved out into the country and now they want to prevent others from moving out there."

Larson made the motion to recommend approval and Benson seconded it before a unanimous 7-0 vote of approval.

Call Lee Bonorden at 434-2232 or e-mail him at