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Appreciation for horses could lead to code change PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOHN MORTON   
Wednesday, 14 June 2017 17:26

Plan Commission ready to take on issue of outbuilding size limits for Town Board consideration

Saukville’s town planners have taken stringent strides to maintain a rural atmosphere, and their 2,500-square-foot limit on the size outbuildings demonstates that.
They regularly reject requests to exceed that amount, but they keep coming. In fact, at Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting another resident indicated he’d be looking for a conditional-use permit to do just that.
But one rejection last month got them thinking: What about outbuildings that house horses? Should an exception be made for them?
The commission voted to ask the Town Board next week for guidance as to whether or not investigate the issue, with a likely recommendation to follow. Only a board vote can change a code, and commission member Mike Denzien suggested the town be very specific in its approach if given the green light.
“If we change it, we need to make this as narrow as possible,” said Denzien, who is also a supervisor. “It would be a change to allow horse-riding arenas, and that’s it. And we’d have to still limit the size as well.
“So how big do we want them? Three-thousand (square feet)? Larger? We want to avoid becoming “warehouses are us” so this does make me nervous.”
The discussion stems from a letter of petition for a code change from Highway I resident Mike Elsila, who wants to build a 6,000-square-foot riding barn. He argues that between his house, an existing 1,200-square-foot barn and his proposed arena, he still would have only 3% of his land covered by structures. Town ordinance limits it to 5%.
Still, he was denied his request for a conditional use permit last month. Elsila said he has spoken with other residents who want the same and are frustrated, while others have moved from the town because of the strict limits.
“Again, I wouldn’t be using the structure as a business or anything like that,” he said.
Commission member Kevin Kimmes agreed that horses are part of the town’s makeup.
“A rural atmosphere supoorts raising horses,” he said.
But Elsila’s seven-acre lot falls into A-4 zoning, and while the “A’ stands for agricultural, the designations for A-4 and A-5 more acurately represent a residential designation.
Commission member Tom Ravn noted that horses may not be the right fit for a residential setting.
“To state that owning horses is an agricultural activity — unless it’s plowing your land — is not accurate,” he said. “Owning a horse to ride it is recreational.”
Currently, the ordinance includes both the 5% ratio and the 2,500-square-foot limit. Commission member Todd Korb wondered if the size limit be dropped, using just the ratio, while Kimmes noted the Town of Grafton has no size limit at all.
Denzien even wondered “do we want residential zoning at all?”
He suggested that the horse issue not get in the way of the intent of the ratio limits, initially designed to prevent large houses covering the majority of a five-acre lot — the smallest lot size allowed in the town.
“This isn’t about horse arenas, it’s about big buildings being everywhere,” he said. “It’s not about being the bad guy, it’s about the next-door neighbor.”
Ravn said he would like the town to mail a survey to all its residents, asking for feedback. Kimmes said he’d support a referendum on the issue, if need be.



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