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In April, Piatt County Voters will see an advisory referendum regarding rural zoning minimum acreage on their ballots. The current Piatt County Zoning Ordinance requires that a single family dwelling in an agricultural zone be on a minimum 20 acre tract. Voters will answer yes or no to whether the acreage required should be reduced. The ballot question is advisory-only.
Although there was a unanimous vote during the January County Board Meeting to approve the referendum’s placement on the ballot, there is no consensus among Board Members regarding the issue.
During the meeting, Zoning Board Chairman Lloyd Wax spoke to the board and audience members about the ordinance.
“I’m in the middle,” began Wax. He explained that the current ordinance was decided on by a committee. One of the methods used by the committee was examining the practices of other counties in regards to agricultural districts. In some Northern Counties, allowing smaller tracts of land to be purchased cost the counties more in the long run.
Wax stated that the Farm Bureau supports larger acreage tracts to save prime farmland. There is also concern about the placement of roads and mailboxes because farmers need to move equipment safely.
Wax did acknowledge that it was more difficult for people to get a loan for such a large piece of property. Bill Blickhan from First State Bank confirmed that it was easier to obtain a loan for small acreage rather than large acreage, however, the primary problem is the secondary mortgage market and appraisers finding a comparable property.
For those wanting to construct a new house, the value of the house must be 30 percent more than the value of the land.
County Board Chairman John Lyons is in favor of a decrease in the acreage. “There has not been any building in Unity Township,” says Lyons.
Board Member Randy Keith stated that he would “never vote against the people having a say,” but questioned whether the people or the county board were raising the question of the ordinance. Keith said that during his tenure on the board no citizen had come before the County Board or the Zoning Board with a complaint.
In other news, the Sheriff, County Clerk, Circuit Clerk and Treasurer gave their annual reports. Sheriff David Hunt reported more than $300,000 in revenue from the housing of Cook County inmates. While the Circuit Clerk saw a decrease in their traffic violation income due to a lack of construction on Interstate 72, the County Clerk reported $50,000 in revenue thanks to an improving housing market.
The Board also approved several appointments. Kathy Lattz, Bill Schable and Marilyn Benedino were named to the Nursing Home Foundation. Scott Wilkin was named to the Joint Fiber Optic Network Committee. Randy Keith was named to the 911 Board and Kathleen Piatt to the Community Action Board.
The next meeting the Piatt County Board will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb . 13 in room 104 of the Courthouse.
Agendas and past meeting minutes can now be found on the County’s website piattcounty.org