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New Pierce County land plan adds clarity to zoning process

ELLWORTH -- After a procedure that took four years, the Pierce County Board adopted a new comprehensive land use plan during its Aug. 25 meeting.

As of Jan. 1, 2010, all land-use decisions made by a town, village, city or county must be consistent with its comprehensive plan, said Land Management Director Andy Pichotta.

"It's going to take a lot of the politics out of the decision because it's either consistent (with the plan) or it's not," said Pichotta.

He said the changes relate primarily to rezoning requests and to requests for conditional use permits.

After Jan. 1 the county will determine whether to accept a proposed rezoning based on consistency with the town plan.

If a town doesn't have a plan, the rezoning must be consistent with the county plan. Town recommendations will be required, but they will be advisory and non-binding.

Persons asking for conditional-use permits -- which apply to a range of uses from home businesses to gravel pits -- will also be required to get a recommendation from the town board.

But consistency with the town's plan does not guarantee approval by the county if the Land Management Committee decides the proposed use at the proposed location would be detrimental to public health or safety, said Pichotta.

He said the relationship between towns with a plan and the county will be somewhat more formal than in the past because applications for rezoning won't be approved by the county unless the plan is consistent with the town's plan.

The recommendation required from the town board must refer to the part of the town's plan that supports the proposed rezoning or provide a text amendment to show consistency with the town's plan.

Sixteen of the county's 17 towns have developed or are developing their own comprehensive plan, said Pichotta. ...

Read more in the print edition of the Aug. 27 River Falls Journal

For more information about the county plan, go to the county's website (, click on "Departments" on the left side of the page and then click on "Land Management/ Zoning."