GRAFTON — The
town of Grafton Plan Commission revisited its zoning code recently,
including deciding to remove some landscaping businesses from
Commission met May 2, with most of its meeting devoted to reviewing
the current zoning code. That is in response to state Act 67, passed
last November, which changes the requirements for how and why a
municipality may reject a conditional use permit application.
villages and cities employ conditional use permits to allow for a
variety of uses on a case-by-case basis; business, commercial and
residential uses can all require such permits, under which a certain
use is allowed, as long as the permit holder follows conditions set
by a municipal board.
conditional uses are three levels of landscaping businesses allowed
in residential properties. Town officials have fielded several
complaints about related businesses, including one dispute that has
been ongoing for about a year.
telling us residential and landscaping don’t mix,” Town Chairman
Lester Bartel said.
discussion, the Plan Commission decided to strike some portion of
landscaping from residential zones, though some question remains as
to how much.
“I think we
should get rid of it, we shouldn’t have it at all in residential,”
Plan Commissioner Dan Vogel said.
striking landscaping was proposed, the commission eventually
directed staff to come up with some options for a controlled version
of level one, the smallest version of landscaping, that might
continue to be allowed in residential.
The problems the
town has had included larger operations, with employees, that were
different than they represented themselves. Individuals who employ
themselves, working on other people’s lawns or gardens, would be
unlikely to cause disruption.
“Some guy has 10
acres, zoned R-3, wants to build a 24-by-24 garage and and cut
people’s lawns? I have a hard time telling him he can’t, I really
do,” Commissioner Patrick Stemper said. The town of Grafton
implemented a moratorium last month on all new conditional use
permits, until the code review is complete. For the time being, no
new permits can be applied for, ensuring residents do not try to
come in now and rush permits for things that will no longer be
allowed after the review is complete in a few months.
Under Act 67,
conditions have to “be reasonable and, to the extent practicable,
measurable” and “the town’s decision to approve or deny the permit
must be supported by substantial evidence.” The act also sets
specifications that substantial evidence includes facts and
information, not “merely personal preferences or speculation.”
“We had the
health and welfare rule, which has been a provision bodies use to
deny conditional use permits,” town attorney Sara McCartney said.
“What’s going to be required now is quantitative, measurable
said at previous meetings the Town Board should remove any
conditional uses they are not certain they want in the town or a
particular district; if the use is in the code, it will be much
harder to disallow it, even if neighboring residents strongly
Commission did not take formal action Wednesday. They are revising
the code, and once revisions are finished will take action to change
the code. Some of the other uses the Plan Commission selected to
remove during the first round of review include:
Commercial butchering of animals or the commercial raising and
breeding of mink, fox or fowl in agricultural zones.
Large-scale recreational uses such as arenas, fairgrounds,
exhibition halls and gymnasiums, previously allowed in all zones. It
was noted in discussion that some such conditional uses may remain
allowed in specific zoning types, but will be removed from the
“recreational uses” conditional use list that is allowed in all
Language was clarified or removed in some areas to simplify the code
or align it further with Act 67.