Blaine County Commissioners approve south county subdivision
By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer
Blaine County Commissionerson a split voteapproved a south
county subdivision request on Monday.
After a lengthy public hearing process which saw the application
scrutinized twice by the Planning and Zoning Commission and three times by the
commissioners, the request was finally approved on a two to one vote.
Commissioner Leonard Harlig cast the dissenting vote on the grounds
that the proposal did not conform with the countys comprehensive plan and its zoning
and subdivision ordinances.
Voting for the measure were Mary Ann Mix, the commission chairperson,
and Commissioner Dennis Wright.
Both indicated they supported the property owners application
largely because of concessions regarding density and preserving open space.
In voting to deny the application, Harlig said the main issue was the
preservation of agricultural land and the potential detrimental impact the subdivision
might have on surrounding farming operations.
The application by William and Mary Helen Leet proposed to subdivide
104 acres into four 26 acre lots. The property is zoned A-20 Productive Agriculture and is
located on the southwest corner of Baseline Road and Schoessler Lane.
Following the previous hearing on Sept. 20, the commissioners continued
the matter with instructions to the applicant to reconfigure the building lots, mitigate
the commissions concerns over building density and address the preservation of
The basis for argument in all five hearings involved the rights of land
owners to subdivide their property versus the impact of residential development on
surrounding agricultural land.
Representing the applicant, Mike Choat of Galena Engineering read a
passage from the comprehensive plan which he said cuts to the heart of the issue.
"The continuation of the market in viable agricultural properties
is essential to the survival of the agricultural community and its lands," he said.
"Ranch and farm owners must find that their land investment is a good one..."
Choat said the Leet application was supported by other south county
property owners who realize the ability to subdivide is vital in maintaining the value of
However, attorney Ned Williamson, representing south county farmers
Dean Rogers and Judy Roger, said, "agriculture is their livelihood, farming is their
life. Their (the Rogers) concern is for the preservation of agricultural land and the
impact of development on their farming operations."
Williamson said his clients were concerned about the cumulative effect
that could result from approval of the Leet application.
"If this application is approved, other applications for
subdivision in the south county will be made."
Referring to similar subdivisions denied by the commission which have
resulted in litigation, Williamson said the county was on good legal footing in denying
previous south county subdivisions based on nonconformance with the comprehensive plan.
"This application will not preserve agriculture (as mandated by
the comp plan)," Williamson said. "Ranchettes are not the type of parcels that
will keep agriculture in perpetuity."
South county farmer Dean Rogers said the cumulative effect of
surrounding productive farmland combined with development would result in a
"straitjacket of regulations" adversely affecting farming operations and
ultimately forcing farmers out of business.