Proposed hobby farm in Wascott gets a second hearing
The Douglas County Board split 11-8 to refer the zoning change back to committee.
A zoning change that would allow the development of a hobby farm near Person Lake in Wascott will get a second hearing.
The Douglas County Board on Thursday, Oct. 21 referred the denial of the zoning change from residential recreation to residential back to committee for further consideration.
Craig and Christine McNeil requested the zoning change to develop a hobby farm with plans to own up to four horses and six to 10 chickens.
“The McNeils met all of the requirements for zone change and the conditional-use permit,” said Mary Lou Bergman, chair of the zoning committee. “Their proposed barn and composting system are state of the art.”
After the zoning change was denied, the committee never acted on the conditional-use permit.
Bergman said the zoning committee denied the zoning change without evidence to do so and the committee’s action didn’t allow the McNeils to be heard, despite the county collecting $570 in permit fees, denying the couple due process. She made the motion to refer it back to committee, which was seconded by Supervisor Sue Hendrickson.
Neighbors of the proposed hobby farm challenged the permit when it appeared before the zoning committee, and they urged the county board Thursday to accept the committee’s 4-1 recommendation to deny the zoning change.
The zoning change and conditional-use permit were unanimously approved by the Wascott Town Board.
The board split 11-8 Thursday to send it back to committee for reconsideration. Zoning committee members Nick Baker, Charlie Glazman and Jim Borgeson voted against the referral.
Supervisor Pat Ryan, who voted in favor of the zoning change, but later voted to deny it after the motion to approve failed, voted in favor of referring it back to committee.
Supervisor Joe Moen said he supported giving the zoning change a second hearing.
“I really have an issue with going against the town board,” Moen said. “It looks like they did their due diligence, and they are the ones that are the frontline local people that have a choice.”
Hendrickson said when the committee chair wants to review a decision that should carry some weight.
“Our committees are the place where most information and truth comes from,” Hendrickson said. “These are people who deal with these issues over and over.”
The zoning committee’s next regularly scheduled meeting is Nov. 10.