During their meeting last week, the Butler County Commissioners heard from Daniel Bacon, a property owner who had requested a homestead lot split with agricultural preservation overlay (APO) in order to build a house on 10 acres he wants to separate from a parcel containing approximately 161.2 acres.
Bacon, whose property is at the corner of 170th and Grant Road, expressed his objection to the county receiving 40-foot right-of-way dedications from his property along both roads.
At that time, the commissioners decided to table the issue. During their meeting Tuesday, they held a work session to discuss right-of-way policy and the APO.
“What exactly all goes with an APO?” asked Commissioner Ed Myers. “We’re already in an AG-80. That already restricts the use.”
County Administrator Will Johnson replied with an APO, which would be utilized in either an AG-40 or AG-80 zoning district, a parcel of around 5-10 acres can be split from the bigger parcel and sold or transferred.
The remaining property would be placed under an APO, which stipulates the only allowable use is agricultural until such time as public utilities become available.
In the AG-40 and AG-80 zoning districts, property owners have the ability to request property splits that would be able to accommodate a subdivision with multiple lots. However, once the property is placed under an APO, it cannot be further divided and can only be used for agricultural purposes.
“The real issue is do you want to keep with current policy requesting right-of-way over the whole property or only the part split off,” said Johnson.
Right now, any time a property is placed under an APO, the county requires road right-of-way dedications.
The minimum for township roads is 80 feet, or 40 feet on each side of the road.
“This easement cannot be enforced until a road expansion plan is in place,” said Commissioner Dan Woydziak. “They can’t go to that 80 foot or 40 foot until there’s a road improvement plan in place.”
According to Director of Public Works Darryl Lutz, there are hundreds of such right-of-way dedications in the county. He reiterated the county does not take possession of these rights-of-way until there is a road plan.
Myers pointed out since a property with an APO could not be developed, there might not be much need for an improved road to accommodate more traffic.
“The county is kind of saying this is going to be (agricultural) forever and ever,” said Myers. “At the same time we’re sort of hedging our bets.”
“If there is an opportunity for road improvement,” replied Johnson, “then this is taken care of in advance.”
Page 2 of 3 - “When you look back at historically how land developed in the 1800s as the frontier was moving westward, everything we have as far as how the land is has evolved from an unbroken tract of land,” added Lutz. “The roads were never even intended to carry a car when they laid out the roads in the late 1800s.”
Lutz also said it could be another 100 years before some of the roads experience a higher usage than they do now.
“It’s not that there’s a plan to go out and build a major highway,” he said.
According to Lutz, the 40 feet of right-of-way is required in case the roads ever need to be improved, even if there isn’t a significant traffic increase.
Commissioner Peggy Palmer discussed property rights and asked if the county has a specific policy that states how much road right-of-way the county gets.
“It’s not really that clear in the policy” replied Rod Compton, director of Planning and Development.
“We have treated it consistently,” added Lutz. “Normally these types of actions are the result of someone wanting to build a home, adding new traffic. The only recourse you have to deal with the traffic is to improve the road.”
The commissioners discussed the ramifications of changing the right-of-way requirements, uniformity across the county and what kind of precedent would be set if they changed the requirement for Bacon’s property.
“I’m a fan of uniformity,” said Commissioner Jeff Masterson.
“I’m sympathetic to this individual,” added Commissioner Mike Wheeler. “I don’t see how to change this without going through all the process with planning and zoning.”
In order for the policy to be officially changed, the Butler County Planning Commission would have to review any suggested revisions. That process could take around three months.
“I’m not going to arbitrarily change up here without going through the process,” said Woydziak.
Toward the end of their work session, the commissioners noted they will again discuss Bacon’s request next week.
In other business, the commissioners:
• received Lonnie Currier of ICI Insurance to give a worker’s compensation update. The county’s claims have been lower over the past three years since the implementation of an employee safety program.
• approved the repair of a 2009 Ford ambulance with Farmer’s Repair in Whitewater in the amount of $18,000. The motion passed 4-0 with Myers abstaining because he knows the owner of Farmer’s Repair.
Page 3 of 3 - • tabled contracts for services for the EMS Medical director and EMS chaplain services until next week because Myers requested a more specific outline of the chaplain’s duties.
• approved the EMS Department Standard Operation Policy 7.4 with several wording changes suggested by Myers.
• authorized Emergency Communications Director Chris Davis to make a payment of $11,913 for software maintenance for the calendar year of 2013.
• approved payment of $7,547 for 2013/2014 maintenance and support for the county’s IBM AS/400 computer.
• approved an agreement with Engineering Solutions and Design to provide professional engineering consulting services to develop the five-year update to the Butler County Solid Waste Management Plan.
• held a work session to discuss capital improvement projects in the county.
• accepted the resignation of Pleasant Township Clerk Sondra Taylor and appointed Julie Winslow to take her place.