Turner County commissioners approve Peterson’s first reading to rezone to rural residential

Dawn Rye | Writer

During last week’s Turner County commissioners meeting, a motion was made to approve the first reading of ordinance #69-20 for Chris Peterson.

Turner Township residents Chris Peterson and wife Tania approached the commissioners board to have 6.67 acres rezoned to rural residential. 

Peterson said to the neighbors present at the meeting that no matter what the outcome, he hopes that one day they can move forward. He explained the information provided to the board is from concerned neighbor Josh Zimmerman prior to Mike Stevens working with him on building eligibility. He explained when he found out about the change of zoning it would be a lot “cleaner” and would not be a second party involved to build a home. Peterson said it would be a quality built home on the 6.67 acres that could potentially bring a family and a tax base. 

Chairman Lyle Vanhove asked if there are any other houses on this quarter?

Peterson said Al Schriever would be the closest one. He noted the building eligibility transfer is a conditional use permit. 

Zimmerman commented that at one of the previous zoning meetings that were held, this would have gone a different direction had the neighbors not been present. He said this is not “cleaner”, it is because this is Peterson’s last resort. 

Peterson explained he feels that this is not dragging anyone into this situation. He noted he was just trying to figure out what to do with this piece of ground. 

Zimmerman said that Peterson has had two opportunities to sell the property. 

Peterson explained that on Nov. 3, 2017, Thomas Bierly was an interested purchaser, which was the only opportunity that he has had. He said nobody else has come to the table with any real interest. 

Vanhove asked if that would violate the ordinance of four houses per quarter?

State’s Attorney Katelynn Hoffman explained that is the reason for the rezoning. She said he is requesting a rezone to rural residential, which would be more than the one house per 40 acres. Hoffman said that Peterson’s intent is to build one home on the 6.67 acres if the property is rezoned. 

Commissioner Mark Kaufman asked where do you currently live?

Peterson said the couple has a Centerville address and his tax dollars go to the Centerville School and he lives a half-mile into Lincoln County. 

Vanhove asked if Peterson bought the property or did he inherit it?

Peterson explained that he purchased the property from his great aunt in Viborg. 

Zimmerman said the expectation to build the house is the exact same thing Brad Harms had. He explained that Peterson had a problem with it so therefore Harms had to burn his old house down to have his new one exist. Zimmerman commented that he believes the exception works one-way but not the other. 

Commissioner Mick Miller asked Hoffman if the property sells to next buyer, could they potentially build another home?

Hoffman said that is correct and once it is rezoned it will stay rural residential. 

Zimmerman explained the first time this was brought up to the planning and zoning board, it was voted down so Peterson brought his attorney to the table. He said the lesson at that time was how Lincoln County was for building acreages. Peterson lives in Lincoln County and owns 17 acres. He noted Peterson’s intention is not to build one house next to his residence but he is trying to build a home around the concerned neighbors. 

“It is pretty easy to do that when you don’t have to live next door,” commented Zimmerman. 

Wife Tania said the ground located on their property is for their garden and a pasture they rent out to horse and cow owners. She commented that Zimmerman has a letter stating blackmail, bribery and lies. Tania noted that not once has the couple ever done any of those things. She explained they came to the commissioners with the intent of building one home on the 6.67 acres. Tania explained they were trying to “play nice” and have been trying to work with the neighbors. 

Hoffman explained the vote will not take place until the second reading and the board will still be able to take public comment. She said it has been the practice after the first reading is held that the board makes a motion to acknowledge the first reading. 

Neighbor Tim Austin explained that he farms directly south of the piece of property in question. He said he has lived there for 30 years and he owns 20 acres and has farmed the same ground for the last 30 years. Austin noted that his family didn’t build a home in the country to have seven homes in a half a mile. He said when his son comes back home, their plan is to expand and put up a cattle barn or bin site. 

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