May 21, 2024

Supervisors rezone 16.72-acre parcel east of Baxter to agricultural

County says neighbors’ concerns at initial p&z meeting did not pertain to rezoning

A 16.72-acre parcel that was initially supposed to be a subdivision has been consolidated into one and rezoned from rural residential to agricultural.

Land that was originally planned to become a Jasper County subdivision with a number of homes built on it has since been consolidated into a single parcel, and now, following board action last week, it has been rezoned from rural residential to agricultural to better accommodate the owner’s farming prospects.

The 16.72-acre parcel is owned by Matthew Allen of Kellogg, and it is located east of Baxter and north of Newton. The lot has an unusual, 10-sided shape to it. Kevin Luetters, director of community development, said the lot used to be subdivided and there were possibly going to be houses built there.

“Nothing ever really happened,” Luetters said to the board of supervisors on April 16. “The road never got built. So it was kind of a floundering subdivision. Mr. Allen bought the property and had (an auditor’s office employee) consolidate the parcel to remove the subdivided lines and make it into one parcel.”

Currently, the parcel is zoned rural residential but Allen wants to rezone it to agricultural. Allen said he purchased the property some years ago, but he did not realize “somebody had been in there and scalped the property down” and removed a lot of the soil. His dream is to build a home and shop on the land.

Allen wants a more private residence but he also wants to farm the land. While it is not a substantially large lot, he does want to grow corn and hay, and he wants to raise one calf and one hog every year or year-and-a-half. Since it is so few livestock, he argued it would not cause too bad a smell for his neighbors.

“I don’t think we’re asking much at all for getting this rezoned,” Allen said. “…From what I hear from Kevin, I cannot go in there and put corn in, I cannot put hay in, I cannot have a pig, a cow or whatever for butcher. I’m limited. This is one of the main reasons why I’m wanting to do this.”

Luetters said for Allen to have a lot of animals on his property he would need a conditional use permit. Supervisor Brandon Talsma said that just because it is zoned rural residential does not stop Allen from seeding it into a hay field or pasture, suggesting the rezone may not be needed.

“I’m just not seeing the benefit between residential to agriculture in this situation. Just because it’s zoned residential doesn’t mean it can’t — I mean I know that piece isn’t fit for it but if you want to farm all 17 acres of it just because it’s zoned residential doesn’t mean you wouldn’t be able to farm all 17 acres,” Talsma said.

Supervisor Denny Stevenson asked if Allen would encounter any problems if he decided to build a house on a parcel with agricultural zoning.

Luetters said Allen would be able to build a house with that zoning designation.

During the supervisors meeting there was no opposition from neighbors. But they did attend the initial planning and zoning commission meeting. Since then no one has reached out to the county for further comment or concern. But supervisor Doug Cupples at first suggested the board not waive the subsequent readings.

Supervisor Denny Stevenson consulted Luetters about the comments from neighbors. Luetters said a lot of concerns were expressed that did not pertain to the rezone; he was not sure if the concerns had been resolved with Allen, particularly an issue that involved the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.

“(The DNR) will send me a letter clarifying there was no violations in any shape or form,” Allen said. “The east neighbor accused me of letting a bunch of water run down into their pond, which I claimed at the zoning meeting that I tried to get a tiling person to come in … he never got over to get it done.”

Since the supervisors felt the neighbors’ concerns were not relevant to the rezone, they went ahead and waived the second and third readings in a 3-0. Then they approved the proposed rezone in a 2-1 vote, with only Talsma voting no.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.