Meeting Minutes, Zoning Committee, August 27, 2019



  1. Call Meeting to order

-Nicole Rakobitsch called the meeting to order at 7:02 pm. Present: Jason Vidas, Wayde Lawler, Elizabeth Tigan, Joel Johnson, Kyle Prorok, Nicole Rakobitsch, George Wilbur (Town of Whitestown). Absent: Susan Mueller.

  1. Read and approve minutes from July meeting

-Lawler moved to approve July minutes. Tigan seconded. Motion carried voice vote.

  1. Discuss Town of Whitestown zoning ordinance

-Wilbur discussed Smart Growth/Comprehensive Plan goal required by state. Town of Whitestown planning committee sent out a survey to town residents. Good response. High priority on maintaining “rural character” of town. Developed comprehensive plan. Spent multiple years considering question of whether or not to adopt zoning and how zoning would look in a rural area. Reached conclusion that multiple districts was more appropriate in urban area. Developed a single district for entire town, allowing three uses: residences, small businesses (fewer than 25 employees), and small farms. All other uses would require variance. Process took approximately four years. Since adoption in 2014 to 2019 no variances were requested. Cell phone company requested variance in 2019. Town board held public hearing in August of 2019 and then denied application for variance. (Board had to create application for variance). Haven’t been any issues with a single district. Held public hearing before adopting zoning or “land use” ordinance. Do not have minimum acreage or setback requirements. Have considered subdivision ordinance, which are sometimes stand-alone ordinances. Town of Whitestown has made effort to respect landowner rights. Haven’t had any notable pushback from town residents. Wanted to include rights of nature even though they acknowledge they may not be enforceable. Right of towns to deny variances for cell towers have thus far stood up in court.

- Johnson asked if rights of nature could come into conflict with effort to support agriculture. Wilbur acknowledged this potential but stated it hasn’t come up to date.

- Vidas asked where we should look for best model ordinances. Wilbur stated that some of Whitestown ordinance would probably not stand up if challenged in court, but the ordinances have a deterrent effect nonetheless.

- Johnson asked about public hearing with cell phone representative. Wilbur stated that company representatives have made misleading statements about what powers municipalities have to regulate cell towers. State statute does allow municipalities some regulatory authority over cell towers.

- Whitestown town ordinance grants certain rights to residents of town, e.g. to bring suit, to designate environmentally sensitive areas, etc.

- Rakobitsch asked if single district would stand up in court. Wilbur stated that nothing in statute prohibits a single district. Things that might not stand up in court are more related to preemption (CAFOs, etc.)

- Committee is unsure if Liberty Comprehensive Plan set any mission or goal. Zoning ordinance in clear violation of CP could lead to lawsuits.

- Wilbur stated that state statute has been amended so that comprehensive plans are no longer required.

- Whitestown recently adopted ATV ordinance. Haven’t had any problems with it.

- Wilbur stated that Towns Association is valuable resource for town board supervisors, clerks, and potentially the members of this zoning committee.

  1. Review and discuss Town of Liberty parcel data

- Johnson obtained data from Vernon County GIS Coordinator and Land Information Office Planner. Lots of data, a bit overwhelming.

- 786 parcels in Liberty

- 54 parcels fewer than 1 acre

- Committee needs to know what information we’re trying to extract from the data provided

- Town Assessor states that there are approximately 1250 parcels. Not sure where the discrepancy between this and Vernon County information comes from.

- Rakobitsch suggested reviewing online parcel map to find where small parcels with houses exist

- Wilbur stated that Whitestown decided not impose minimum acreage primarily because of concerns about taking land out of agricultural production

- Lawler suggested that we reserve entire next meeting for discussion of minimum acreage issues

- Prorok asked if other ordinances like a subdivision ordinance, for example, might be a better approach to preserving rural character

  1. Period of Public Comment

- No public comments were heard.

  1. Future agenda items and next meeting date

- Minimum lot size

- Subdivision ordinance - Rakobitsch will check with Towns Association for model

  1. Adjourn

- Meeting adjourned at 8:30 pm.

Minutes respectfully submitted by Wayde Lawler