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Walworth County to request rezone from itself

---Changes never occurred after mining operations

Ann Marie Ames /The Janesville Gazette

(Published August 1, 2007, 2:27 p.m.)

Walworth County has learned its lesson when it comes to requiring rezoning.

But it still needs to deal with the two that got away.

Two farm fields in Darien Township were zoned from prime agriculture to allow mining for clay:

-- A 26-acre field owned by MCHA on Highway 11 between Turtle Creek and Old Highway 89 was rezoned in 1989.

-- A field on County Line Road just south of Highway 11/14 owned by town Supervisor Daniel Boss was rezoned in 1999.

On the conditional-use permits for both properties, Walworth County required the properties be zoned back to prime agriculture once the clay was extracted.

The clay now lines the Mallard Ridge Landfill on Highway 11, and corn is growing in one field. But neither property owner has applied for the A-1 rezone.

Because the property has been zoned for mining for so long, it's no longer appropriate to turn it back into prime agricultural property, said Kevin Armstrong, one of three MCHA owners. A "C" zoning that could include conservation practices or low-density homes would be more appropriate, he said.

MCHA has owned the property on Highway 11 for three years, Armstrong said. The Greidanus family formerly owned the land.

"I've never seen the agreement between the county and Greidanus related to the M-3 zoning rezone," Armstrong said. "What I can tell you is it would have been zoned underneath an ordinance that's no longer in place."

The county has no way to retaliate against the unheeded rezoning conditions because the property is no longer being mined, county planner Matt Weidensee said. So the Walworth County Zoning Agency applied for the rezones itself.

"The deal was they would get it rezoned back," said Michael Cotter, planning and zoning director. "That's the part that rubs the agency the wrong way."

The county learned its lesson and has recently changed the rules. If a rezone is a condition, applicants file the paperwork and pay for the rezone before the permit is granted, Cotter said.

But that doesn't help with the MCHA and Boss properties.

The Town of Darien Plan Commission planned to hear the county's rezone applications Tuesday night. But in the 11th hour, MCHA asked the county to grant a meeting to discuss a compromise, Cotter said.

The county agreed, and the meeting will likely be later this week.

The plan commission still will eventually discuss the application and make a recommendation to the town board.

The Walworth County Planning and Zoning Agency will make a recommendation to the county board. The town and the county must agree for a rezone to take place.

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