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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission approves help to update zoning regulations

MOUND CITY – Linn County Planning and Zoning Administrator Darin Wilson and county Planning Board Chair Richard Morrell met with the Linn County Commissioners to update them on the progress of the comprehensive plan and to ask that a request for proposal (RFP) be put out for a consultant to help the planning commission update the zoning regulations.

On Tuesday, July 5, Wilson told the commissioners that it was the consensus of the zoning and planning board to put the zoning regulations out to bid to have them updated.

Commissioner Rick James asked what guidance was going to be provided to this company?

“What are we telling them we want? Do we want Johnson County regulations?” asked James.

Wilson said that he and the planning commission were just looking for somebody to come in and help go through the present regulations and bring them more up to date.

“That’s my point, are we requiring that everybody turn in everything for a permit every time they fix their house or repair their house?” James asked.

Wilson pointed out that there was a lot of land uses being missed under the current system. The county does not charge for an agricultural-use building, but if a permit is not filled out the county doesn’t know it has been built.

He said the county needs to start having permits filled out so the county at least knows what is going on.

If permits are not filled out, said Wilson, by the time the appraisers make their rounds, tax money has been missed for three or four years.

James asked what happens when people don’t apply for a permit.

Keep in mind, this is a request for proposal, not a bid, said County Counselor Gary Thompson. So what the counties is saying to companies is look at our county and propose what we need in terms of an update, and tell us what it would cost.

Commission Chair Jim Johnson asked how far the county was going to take that. What if they come back for regulations for Johnson County, he asked.

Wilson said that it was something that everyone needed to sit down and discuss and come to a consensus of where the county wants to go.

Wilson said there was some things that the county does, like inspect foundations for mobile homes but not for houses. The county needs to get regulations that apply across the board for everything.

James asked who was qualified to do that. Wilson said he knew what foundations required.

Thompson said there were courses Wilson could take to get certified.

James said he did not have a problem with it, but he wasn’t going to be there in the future and he hoped that either Johnson or Commissioner Danny McCullough could sit with the planning commission and the company to talk about this.

Wilson said the planning commission was not going to hold up the comprehensive plan to do this. He said that the planning commission had put some questions together for Jennifer Reinhardt of IBTS but she has been unavailable because of illness.

“We are waiting to see when she can come back and speak to us,” Wilson said.

Wilson said that Reinhardt had given the planning commission a generic zoning regulations sample on a couple of areas. Wilson said he had talked to other counties and got some names of other companies that do this.

Morrell told the commissioners that the regulations had not been updated since 1997. He said the planning board needed somebody to work that could answer questions. And then the planning commission and commissioners could decide if the county should do option A, B or C.

Morrell said that the planning commission needed direction to control solar and wind energy in the county. He said that was an issue.

He told the commissioners that he went through the draft that Reinhardt had given to the planning commission, and it was just full of holes. He said there were too many issues that were not even addressed. It needs to be more comprehensive.

Johnson said he did not have a problem going out for bids to see what it would take to get some ideas.

Mainly, just some consulting, said Wilson.

McCullough and James agreed that they were okay with it.

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