PRESS EDITORIAL: Don’t weaken ag zoning that protects rural land

Farmers feed the world. Agriculture protects the countryside.

In Ozaukee County, agricultural zoning is the first line of defense against development that could consume vast areas of open green space.

In serving its primary purpose of ensuring land is available for farming, agricultural zoning prevents dense development that replaces green space with brick, mortar and pavement to the detriment of the rural character that gives northern Ozaukee County much of its appeal.

The town governments that control agricultural zoning are frequently challenged by pressure to make exceptions to its requirements.

The Town of Grafton Plan Commission was recently petitioned to allow a commercial entertainment venue on land zoned for agriculture. After some wavering, it refused, to its credit.

The Town of Saukville Plan Commission is considering a proposal to allow construction of a complex of steel sheds that could be used for various commercial purposes on land zoned for agriculture.

The project developer seeks to have land rezoned for virtually unlimited business uses in 30 or more shed-type buildings to be sold to individual owners.

In an initial consideration of the potential rezoning, commission members expressed concern over allowing unrestricted business activities in the town and the impact it would have on its homeowners and rural character.

The rezoning should be rejected on both counts.

Shed subdivisions like this are quite popular and certainly have a place in the mix of urban land uses. The developer now seeking Town of Saukville rezoning found a perfect place for one he recently built in the City of Port Washington—on land between a recycling operation and the city’s industrial park, a far cry from the Saukville site.

The chairman of the Town of Saukville Plan Commission, Kevin Kimmes, described the shed development there as “very dense for what the town has historically been.”

True, and that is what agricultural zoning is meant to prevent, while encouraging open land uses. On the open land it protects, besides farm fields, are untillable natural areas, forests and wetlands that are environmentally and aesthetically important but vulnerable to development.

Conservation easements and nature preserves, such as the planned Cedar Gorge Clay Bluffs preserve in a splendid piece of nature at the far edge of Port Washington that is coveted by a developer, are the most effective means of land conservation, but can only protect relatively small areas.

Agricultural zoning is essential to preserve the open green spaces of Ozaukee County and should not be compromised by allowing inroads of commercial development.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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