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New country dwellers worry some regional farmers

WILLMAR -- Mike Vosika doesn't oppose plans for a small housing development on Dovre Township's Long Lake, but he wants to make sure the future residents realize they'll be building their new homes in farm country.

Vosika has cattle in the pasture that abuts the proposed Rolling Meadows housing development.

He told the Kandiyohi County Planning Commission he's worried the new country dwellers could object to his agricultural livelihood.

"I know what they're going to say: 'We smell something,'" Vosika said.

A similar concern was expressed by Alvin Ledeboer about a different proposal for a home-based massage therapy and scrapbooking business to be located in an area zoned for agriculture in Holland Township. He wanted to make sure the applicant, Merri Sue Swart, was aware farmers would be actively working around her, which could create dust, odors and noise.

Ledeboer was also seeking assurances that his business of farming wouldn't be affected because a non-farming business was moving next door.

"They were legitimate concerns," said Zoning Administrator Gary Geer during Monday's regular meeting of the Planning Commission.

But Geer said land that's zoned for agriculture is not affected when neighboring land has a different use.

The conditional use permits the applicants sought were for their specific sites and will not affect the neighboring land zone or farm uses, said Geer.

"As long as they know there's going to be cattle there," Vosika said, he had no objections to the plans Ryan Koosman has for building four houses in a 17-acre conservation subdivision near Long Lake.

Ed Huseby, chairman of the Planning Commission, said Vosika's land that's zoned for agriculture would not change with the new housing development. "Your cattle are OK," he said.

Although they are not handed out when building permits are sought, Geer said the county has fliers advising people about the facts of moving to the country and living in areas zoned for agriculture.

Complaints about agricultural odor, noise and traffic are common during public hearings when, for example, a farmer wants to expand a hog operation. But Geer said his office rarely hears complaints about specific farming operations from non-farmers who live in the country.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously Monday to recommend approval of Koosman's housing proposal to create a conservation subdivision, which requires 75 percent of the land to be open space commonly owned by the four homeowners. A preliminary plat of the development was also approved.

Vosika and several other residents from the area, said they liked Koosman's idea of a conservation subdivision because it would preserve a large green space that's currently being farmed.

Pat Roberts had another concern. She asked Geer if the large stand of trees in the proposing housing development would be left alone or cut down.

Geer said certain shoreland alterations would be allowed and some wouldn't and that his staff would try to monitor it. He asked for Robert's help in watching that part of the project to make sure everything remained in compliance.

The commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for Swart for an extended home business for a massage therapy and scrapbooking retreat center.

A request to rezone land from A-2 general agriculture to commercial industrial was also approved for land in New London Township.

The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners will take final action on the zoning issues at its meeting Tuesday.