Thursday, April 8, 2010

Residential Building in Agriculture Zone...

It sounds like Houston County, Minnesota has a fairly strong restriction on building residences in agriculture.  Strong enough that it may get them sued according to this article:

The Houston County battle primarily stems from zoning regulations that require single-family homes built in agricultural areas be on at least 40 acres, unless it's a farming-related residence. The group of "500 or so" landowners are willing to work with county officials to alleviate their concerns, she said. But Budd-Falen also served notice that unless the "serious violations" are addressed within 30 days, the county will be sued.

Apparently, the conflict began when a resident purchased 8 acres and wanted to build a house.

The problem?

That land was located in the 40 acre minimum ag zone:

The clash over the zoning laws dates back to 2005, when Matthew Solum bought a Spring Grove, Minn., home on about 8 acres from his cousin in an area with the 40-acre requirement. County commissioners in October 2007 denied Solum's request for a conditional-use permit to allow the home. Solum then sued the county but lost both in district court and in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. He requested the Minnesota Supreme Court consider the case, with eight Republican lawmakers filing briefs in support, but the high court declined in April 2009.

Apparently, the citizens group feels as if it would have better results than Mr. Solum. While the 40 acre minimum may sound high, there is a caveat: a house can be built on less than 40 acres in that ag zone if the house is a farm-residence.

Meaning that, you can have farms (with a homestead) that are smaller than 40 acres in the zone but you cannot have residences-only on smaller than 40 acres. That actually seems to make some sense, unless the ag zone is overly-expansive in its total scope.

--Chad Emerson, Faulkner U.

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Interesting. I wonder what the standards are for what counts as a "farm." I assume there must be some definitional standard preventing these would-be residents from getting around the zoning by simply planting a vegetable garden.

Posted by: Matt Festa | Apr 8, 2010 2:09:08 PM