Planning commission taking new look at zoning ordinance

The Brown County Area Plan Commission plans to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 19, in the County Office Building’s lower meeting room to start the process of reviewing and updating the county’s zoning ordinance.

The seven-member board, which makes recommendations to the county commissioners regarding the commissioners’ land use ordinances, was in agreement that the current ordinance is in need of revision.

APC Attorney David Schilling said some of the current land use designations are almost a half-century out of date.

Local resident Ruth Reichmann told the commission they are able to appoint citizen advisory committees to assist them. She spoke about her time on a committee that visited properties and projects and reported to the APC. Reichmann also said the League of Women Voters could assist in facilitating public input.

“Everyone who is involved in maintaining the county in some way needs to have a voice,” Reichmann said.

The APC does not currently have any committees that report to or assist it.

At suggestion of board member Mary Jo Spiegel, the board members agreed to review the current ordinance and come to the July 19 meeting with 10 priority areas — from cell towers to tourist homes — that they feel need to be better addressed in the ordinance.

Plan Commission Director Chris Ritzman said the APC has about $30,000 available in 2016 to hire a planning consultant, which may not be available in 2017. That sum includes a $10,000 grant from the national Realtor organization MIBOR.

Ritzman told the board that a consultant would not write the new ordinance for them, but would be an expert in the general process who could guide them in avoiding legal pitfalls and common mistakes.

The board decided to delay hiring a consultant until they have a better idea of what they want the ordinance to address.