Ponsford will search for majority on Lot of Record

News Editor
   April 16, 2003 — Jefferson County Commission Chairman Walt Ponsford said Thursday he is committed to finding where the majority of farmers stand on the controversial Lot of Record statute.
    And although the retired school teacher and Agency Plains farmer opposes Lot of Record dwellings, he said he would vote to include them in Jefferson County’s zoning ordinances if that’s what a majority of farmers and ranchers want.
    The Lot of Record statute allows property owners to bypass acreage and farm income requirements to establish farmland homes if they have owned their property prior to 1985.
    Jefferson County is one of three counties in the state that has not adopted the provision. “This one single issue has already split the farming community and it’s already too small to be split,” Ponsford said.
    “Both sides of the issue believe the other side is a minority and we’re going to find out.”
    Ponsford said he is going to organize a group of high school students to conduct a poll of the county’s farmers to determine the true majority on the issue. The ordinances he voted to adopt Thursday removed the Lot of Record provision from the ordinances the prior county commission had approved twice.
    Ponsford said he will organize crews of high school students to go door to door in the farmland if need be. He said they will record the sentiments of farmers to determine the “plebiscite.”
    The surveys will be limited to those in exclusive farm use zones and not city dwellers, Ponsford said. He hopes to initiate the polling near the end of this month or in early May.
    For the high school participants, it will be a scholastic exercise in government, Ponsford said.
    If a majority of farmers say they favor Lot of Record dwellings, Ponsford said he will take steps to put it back in the recently adopted zoning ordinances.
    “As far as I’m concerned, the book is not closed on this,” Ponsford said.