On Thursday, the Winona County Planning Commission will continue its discussion of a host of proposed changes to the zoning ordinance. This meeting follows a public hearing last month that drew dozens who voiced concern or support for the major regulatory overhaul currently under consideration.
The most substantial change to the county land use rules would expand the current Rural Heritage district to include homes and farm structures that were legal when they were constructed, but labeled "nonconforming" under the new ordinance. The nonconforming title would be removed, and the homes or barns would be allowed to expand within a 300-foot radius around the structure. If a barn were allowed to be expanded under the proposed zoning change language, a special permit would not be required; however, any increase of animal units would still trigger feedlot permit requirements.
Buildings that are only in conflict with the current bluff and steep slope setbacks are already contained within the Rural Heritage district, and the current ordinance does allow the expansion of those structures within the district under certain conditions.
Another amendment under consideration would allow property owners to build homes on parcels under 40 acres in size that were recorded prior to the new ordinance taking effect in 2011. Homes destroyed by fire or other natural disaster could be rebuilt, and road access to a new home would be allowed through an easement on neighboring property. Additionally, the current ordinance states that all land uses that are not specifically listed in the zoning ordinance are unlawful; one of the amendments would reword the section to allow the Planning Director to decide whether a land use is appropriate if it is not specifically addressed in the ordinance.
Last month, commissioners listened to dozens of comments from citizens on the proposed changes, then made a few revisions and tabled the issues. The meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the county office on Main Street will not include a public comment session, although it is open to the public.