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Stark Co. Zoning Board supports land size, animal number changes: County Commission to consider ordinance recommendations Tuesday

Stark County Zoning Board members unanimously agreed to recommend several ordinance changes to the County Commission regarding land size and number of animals allowed on a property.

The County Commission will consider the recommendations at its 8 a.m. meeting Tuesday at the Stark County Courthouse.

Gene Buresh, community development coordinator for the Roosevelt Custer Council for Development, who worked with Steve Josephson, city and county planner, to draft the code changes, said at a public hearing Thursday at the courthouse that the biggest change is how residential lots would be identified.

Instead of low-, medium- and high-density lot sizes, Buresh said it was recommended that the county look to move to 5-, 10- and 40-acre lot sizes.

"The minimum lot size out in the country would be 5 acres," he said. "There would be a 10-acre rural residential, agricultural residential and agricultural. Agricultural will be 40 acres with conditional uses we had before. The difference in the 5 and 10 (acres) is a difference in the numbers of permitted and conditional uses."

As a conditional use, Buresh said it is recommended that 40-acre farms have the ability to store oil and equipment related to oil exploration and production.

"We did that as a conditional use, so you can put a timer on it," he said. "They do this in the oil counties to the north, but they would have to come in for a conditional use permit and could only be on the 40 acres."

The board also agreed to recommend limiting the number of animals on 5- and 10-acre lots to two animals per 5 acres.

To exceed that amount, individuals would have to go before the board for a conditional use permit.

"People could come in and ask for a conditional use permit and explain their reasoning for it if they want more than two animals per 5 acres," said county commissioner and zoning board member Jay Elkin. "Sometimes it would just depend on where they are situated in the county. If they're closer to the city, it would have to be a call of the board."

There would be no restrictions to the number of animals on a 40-acre lot, Buresh said, because that would be a regular farm.

Kurt Froelich, zoning board member and the North Dakota State University extension agent for Stark County, said having smaller, 5- to 10-acre properties that allow for people to have animals is a benefit.

As the demographics in the county change, Froelich said he expects to see more small acreage farms coming, and the proposed change to lot sizes would help.

Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission members discussed a similar change to lot sizes for land zoned agricultural and residential at its Sept. 19 meeting, but no action was taken.

City Planner Ed Courton proposed that land not within the urban services area be changed from 1 acre to a minimum of 5 or 10 acres for rural residential and agricultural land should go from a 5-acre minimum to a 40-acre minimum.