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New land use legislation to bring change

Recently passed House Bill 3326 has some restrictions and requirements, but should make it easier for some landowners to partition their property
When the state legislature passed House Bill 3326 it brought a lot of interest to local landowners. The county planning department has been receiving numerous phone calls about the results of the bill.
   HB 3326 changes the ability of local residents to make application to develop some of their property. Prior to this legislation, a person had to own at least 160 acres in order to divide off a parcel. That has changed, according to county planning director Bill Zelenka.
   First, Zelenka explained, the bill eliminates the requirement that a newly created parcel in an EFU (exclusive farm use) zone must be at least 80 acres in size. Most importantly, Zelenka stressed, the bill does not become effective until Jan. 1, 2002. But that hasn)t stopped a lot of people from wanting to know about it.
   HB 3326 establishes two separate conditions for an application to partition for non-farm dwellings. First, it allows two additional parcels with the remaining existing parcel having at least 80 acres in size. Also, those parcels that are equal to or larger than 40 acres and equal or smaller than the minimum parcel size (80 acres) with a land division resulting in a total of two parcels.
   All applications, according to the bill, must address the existing farm criteria plus meet additional criteria. The parcel or lot being divided must have been lawfully created prior to July 1 of this year. It must be composed of at least 90 percent Class VII and VIII soils or made up of at least 90 percent Class VI Through VIII soils and not capable of producing adequate herbaceous forage for livestock grazing.
   The bill allows the Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to establish a rule that contains objective criteria for identifying units of land not capable of producing adequate herbaceous forage. Zelenka said he believes the state is going to wait to see how the county will deal with that.
   "I expect to look for help from the Extension Service and others to give us advice on defining exactly what that means," Zelenka said.
   The county is, under the bill, capable of adopting its own standards and amending its zoning ordinances to allow for the processing of these land partitions.
   Zelenka wanted to make it clear that the county will not accept applications until its criteria is established. The requirements of identifying grazing capability is a crucial requirement, he explained, of the applicant)s burden of proof and a requirement to receive county approval.
   The bill will mean making changes to county ordinances. The county planning commission will hold public hearings on proposed changes, probably in December before the issue is turned over to the county court. The court has tentatively scheduled a public hearing on the matter at its Jan. 16 meeting.