From: Jean Kalmes
What is the rush? There was a huge rush in March 2011 when the admittedly flawed zoning ordinance was passed. They assured us that it needed more work and the two rooms full of attendees were told that much could very easily be changed later, and they rushed it through. I had read the ordinance which, is longer than 300 pages. Now the Winona County Planning Commission is suggesting that five rules be changed. Those who attended the meeting on August 15 were forced to listen to many bluff preservers, mainly Winona residents, speaking about the need to save the bluffs. I invite you to take a drive through Winona County and you will see many, many acres of bluffs preserved by landowners whose taxes have been raised recently on those bluffs. Green Acres, which provided a tax break for those preserving the bluffs, was eliminated a few years ago. Bluff advocates could help in that matter. Get the tax break reinstated. Editor Voerding of the Daily News and others have recently written long opinion pieces asking that no changes be made in the 2011 document. They obviously have not read the ordinance. I cannot believe they would be so uncaring about the fate of those of us in the country. We were there August 15 for three hours while an attempt was made to reword just one of the suggested rulings. All five changes were tabled until the October meeting, which will allow time for more specific wording. I would like to commend Bob Peterson and the commissioners for their patience in what proved to be a long and difficult, but well-conducted meeting. The ruling that was worked on at the meeting states that ”if a calamity occurred and a non-conforming home was destroyed as much as 50 percent, it could not be rebuilt.” And it adds, “The goal is to eliminate all non-conforming homes in the county eventually.” This category describes a large number of farm homes in the county. Added restrictions state residences must be 1,000 feet from animals, farther from the road, and farther from a waterway. Many of these ideas seem to come from the U of M and are advocated by people who think natural prairie and rattlesnakes are preferable to a green field of corn or alfalfa. No one has bothered to count the many non-conforming homes and notify the people involved, and as with Obamacare, few have read the ordinance. Administrator Hebert was receptive to rushing the process with his rubberstamp board members in 2011, that is, with the exception of Marcia Ward who is known for thoughtfully considering proposed legislation.
I admire the present members who serve on the Planning Commission and Winona County Board who are actually working to protect the taxpayers of this area. I know some of them. They are thoughtful and intelligent and have worked for years to protect property rights. My suggestion is to thank them and get a copy of the entire ordinance and read it. You will be appalled. All five of the suggested changes should be passed if you care about the citizens of Winona County. Is your home non-conforming? You will probably be surprised. I am a preserver of a personal 200 acres of bluffs for 65 years, and one who pays high taxes, and who lives in a non-conforming farm home.