In our area the influence on
agriculture, roads, sewage and preventing potential water
contamination are some of the major components considered with a
request to change an agricultural holding to residential. The Logan
County Board updated these regulations just over a year ago. In the
months that followed, numerous ag-to-residential rezoning requests
came in, but the revision created too much confusion.
In September of 2003 the county board
chairman, Dale Voyles, called a moratorium on further requests until
the parameters of definition could be redefined. The original
committee was asked to make the revisions. However the 14-member
Regional Planning and Zoning Commission was unable to reach any
agreements. So a subcommittee was appointed that included Walter
"Bud" Miller, Phil Mahler, Dick Logan, Tom Hickman, Bill Glaze and
The subcommittee met more than once,
tossing increments of one-, two-, three- and five-acre private lot
sizes against five-, 10-, 15- and 20-acre farm sizes, and still
could not find any clear regulations that would fit every situation.
"We just couldn't agree," Miller said.
"We realize we need to provide homes in
the rural area and we need a mechanism to do that," board member
Dick Logan said.
Miller said they finally approached it
as, "What can we live with?" And they came up with the following
Do away with "country homes"
Go back to the original ordinance, and
where it addresses minimum lot sizes get rid of the words "all
farms" and insert "all lots." The reason behind the change in
wording is that "farm" indicates that only farmers could live out in
Section C stipulates that if a parcel
is not well-suited for agriculture and will not adversely affect
adjoining agriculture use, then it may be considered for other use.
A request for this type of zoning
change, ag to residential, constitutes a conditional use. The
approval will still be made one case at a time by the county board.
A request will still go before the zoning board and the board of
appeals, but they serve only as advisory committees. The Logan
County Board remains the deciding body.
conditional use procedure on agricultural land
1. According to the new terms, land
deemed appropriate to rezone must fit the parameters of "not suited
for agriculture and will not adversely affect adjoining agricultural
use." An example was given of having a corner that is cut off by a
ditch. It might be prime farm ground, but it's really not suited for
agriculture because it might be difficult to farm. This land could
be seen as "not well-suited for agriculture." Wooded lots also fit
2. One-acre requests can still be made
to the board. "Nothing has really changed outside of the wording,"
board member Dick Logan said.
3. Any farmer can sell off five acres
of land. But to build on it you have to have 200 feet of frontage
access to a public road.
Farmers still have the right to sell
parcels of one or two acres but will need to come to the county
board for approval of smaller lots that are intended to be built on
The county board heard opinions from a
number of individuals who attended last Thursday evening's work
session. It was mostly farmers and realtors who turned out to
address the issue.
Dorothy Gleason: Gleason asked if there
were specific dimensions on the five-acre lot size.
Answer: No, it's just five acres. But
to build a home on it, it must have 200 feet frontage on a road.
Gordon Johnson, from Johnson Real
Estate, past president of Logan County Board of Realtors: "We are
not concerned about us listing and selling real estate for the
country homes. That's not the reason we're here tonight. Nor are we
here to debate the five-acre parcel issues. We're here to debate and
discuss the ‘country homes district' and the deletion of that
Johnson said removing the "country
homes district" eliminates the option for landowners to sell any
parcel they might want to sell, any one- to five-acre parcel of
ground that they would like to sell.
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Johnson pointed out that there will
always be people with an interest in moving to the country, citing
privacy, raising a family without the stigma of the city and
atmosphere. Yes, there are subdivisions available with one-acre
sites. But not everyone wants that, he said.
Susan Tibbs: Wanted to know how to know
when someone has asked for a rezoning.
Answer: When a petitioner has requested
rezoning, a public notice is posted in the paper and letters are
sent to all adjoining property owners.
John Tibbs, Middletown: Would like to
do away with the "country home" completely and make five acres
mandatory. However, if less is allowed, he suggests that there be
some mandates added.
He felt that the new subdivision
building that is going on west of Lincoln on Route 10 was not
adequately researched before approval. He says that the clay hills
of that subdivision will not support the septic systems. Spring
rains may lead to sewage contamination in the creek at the bottom of
"There's some real issues that we
really need to stop and take a look at. We're increasing the load on
our township roads. They're not designed for that," Tibbs said.
Tibbs said he has worked in agriculture
and done spraying in the fields. "I know the issues that get caught
up in that because I've actually been involved with some of it."
Linda Barrick, president of Logan
County Board of Realtors: We don't want the landowners to lose their
rights. There are a lot of small farmers out there that may want to
sell one or two acres of farm ground.
She also asked if there could be a
stipulation that the ground has to be built on within a certain
amount of time.
Jim Drew, Logan County Farm Bureau:
Drew said zoning's purpose is to put like industry together and
protect people who already live there. When you start putting homes
out in a rural area it doesn't necessarily mean that it's like
industry. There are 15 country homes available now.
An unidentified gentleman who came in
late said that he has had two lots approved for sale for country
homes in the last two years. His opinion is that the regulations for
the property were sufficiently addressed. He felt he was able to
choose his neighbors, and he questioned if there is sufficient
concern about lawsuits in Logan County. He concluded by saying that
there are hundreds of places in Logan County that can't be farmed
that would be suitable for country homes.
Various members of the board responded.
There have been two or three lawsuits threatened that county board
members have known about and 15 agriculture complaints to the EPA in
When there is a complaint, the farm is
inspected, taking a day's time, and typically no legal basis is
found to pursue the complaint.
Illinois farmers are protected from
most complaints by the "right to farm" law. But, it was pointed out
that with less than a 3 percent margin in the hog industry in the
last six years, farmers can't take more than one or two lawsuits.
Dr. David Hepler, the board's planning
and zoning chairman, said that he does not necessarily agree with
the subcommittee's feeling in recommending farm size not be
increased in the foreseeable future, that it stay at five acres. But
in the time that he has sat on the board he says that the issue of
compatibility of city versus rural people keeps coming up. "I have a
hard time with any type of public body trying to keep a certain type
of person out, whether it is a city person or some other
classification. I don't think that's a proper role of zoning," he
said. Procedurally, there have been some he has voted for and some
he has not. "I trust this board to make a judgment. Really what it
is, is procedural questions," he said.
the board, "Does this board trust itself to receive these and look
at them individually?" By and large the board has done a good job,
passing some, deferring others. Others proceeded in a different
course and not always the way that he thought that they should go.
"I think we should continue to trust the board," he said. "That's
what the people put us here for. Look at them (requests)