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Town of Platteville board vs. plan commission: The tie goes to ...
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The Grant County Board had to settle a tie between the Town of Platteville’s board and its Plan Commission over a rezoning request.

George Lazarus requested to take 8.23 acres out of farmland preservation to develop new residential lots in his subdivision.

The town’s plan commission recommended the approval of the request, while the town board recommended it be denied.

Sup. Pat Schroeder of Lancaster said when the county first looked at the item at its zoning committee meeting, the committee went through a checklist, prepared by Corporation Counsel Ben Wood, to make sure the request complied with the county’s own ordinances on farmland preservation.

The committee recommended approving the item, with one person against and one abstaining.

Wood said he prepared the checklist to make sure there was a record of the process the county went through to approve, or deny a request like this, justifying any decision.

“It is important to have these rules so everything is the same for everyone all the time,” he said.

The proper way to preserve farmland was part of the debate at the meeting.

Town of Platteville board member Dan Smith said his board felt the proposal did not preserve farmland. On why they disagreed with the plan commission, he said, “Our plan commission got sidetracked on road issues,” adding there would not need to be any additional road construction for the development.

Smith explained the town board’s vote as saying “This is agricultural crop land that is being taken out of production.”

Aaron Austin, the surveyor who was working with Lazarus, said the addition was part of the plan when the initial development was proposed a dozen years ago. Austin said the roadway was only being half-utilized, and added this request completed the development cluster, and no future requests would be made.

Rocky Skemp also addressed the county board, saying he was in favor of the development and wanted to make sure the rules were consistently applied for every land owner.

Sup. John Patcle of Potosi said the property reminded him of the land recently acquired by the county to build a highway department shop in the Town of Platteville. He said the land seemed very much like the land Lazarus looks to develop, being crop ground, and the town board had no issue approving that development.

“We are trying to shut the gate after the cattle got out,” said Sup. Carol Beals of Platteville. “If you didn’t want the property there, you shouldn’t have allowed the first group.”

“I am not sure about taking farmland out of production,” countered Sup. Larry Wolf of Lancaster.

Sup. Gary Ranum of Boscobel said after going to the proposed site, it appeared to him as if the development was designed to be two phases, with the proposal fulfilling that design.

Sup. Vern Lewison of Fennimore wondered about the implications of the county going against the town board’s wishes on a zoning matter. Typically, the county follows the recommendation the town board would make.

Wood noted that was a sign of respect, but there was no formal policy for the county to follow the recommendation of the town board.

In the end, the board approved the measure 13–3, with Sup. Dale Hood, who sits on the Town of Platteville Board, abstaining. Voting against were Wolf, Lewison and Sup. Lester Jantzen of Potosi, who voted against the proposal at the zoning committee level.