There seems to be much general agreement amongst most residents who have spoken up about the new land use plan from the Powell portion of Park County that prime ag land, and the farms that occupy …
There seems to be much general agreement amongst most residents who have spoken up about the new land use plan from the Powell portion of Park County that prime ag land, and the farms that occupy them, should be preserved.
It’s how best to do that that still seems to be debated.
As Park County Planning and Zoning Director Joy Hill reiterated Wednesday at the first public hearing on the plan at a special county planning and zoning commission meeting, one of the new plan’s main pushes in that regard is to encourage rezoning large portions of the area to 20 acre minimum lot size averages in future subdivisions.
It’s to address, she said, an issue in the prior plan developed in the 90s that claimed to want to preserve ag land, but left large swathes of the area around Powell and between Powell and Cody zoned for 1 acre minimum lots.
So, the plan is recommending switching much of that to a 20-acre minimum designation. Hill called that a compromise between what she would recommend — 35-acre minimum average like in more rural areas — and people who might not like such a big change. She did note that some areas would still be seen as right for smaller lots.
As someone who lives in a roughly 4 acre lot in a subdivision along the Powell Highway, I think rezoning to preserve more of the ag land around us is a great idea. I love that we have our land — we couldn’t have afforded a big lot in the area when we bought it — but I know there has to be a balance between allowing rural subdivisions and allowing the area to otherwise stay quite rural. After all, most people don’t move outside town to sill live amongst rows of subdivisions, which is what the U.S. Highway 14A corridor between Cody and Powell could become years down the road — work on Buck Creek Estates near Heart Mountain Interpretive Center is underway — if the area is still awash with 1-acre minimum zoning.
I think a 20 acre minimum is a nice happy medium — Hill said in a committee farmers agreed that would be the bare minimum lot size for a working farm — and that still leaves options. The 20 acre size is an average minimum, after all, meaning someone with a 40 acre farm looking to free up some cash could still subdivide and sell off a few smaller lots while keeping a large lot to themselves, as long as the barrage size of the lots is 20-plus acres.
I’d say that’s quite flexible, allowing landowners to sell off lots while still preserving our prime ag land. But maybe that’s not the best plan. After all, I’m no ag expert. But we have plenty of those around, so if you haven’t yet spoken up it’s time to do so. Visit parkcounty-wy.gov/PlanParkCounty/ for more information and to find out when you can next attend a public meeting or otherwise make a comment. This plan still needs to be certified by county planning and zoning, which allows for more time for a public hearing at that level and then planned public input sessions afterward ahead of final adoption.
This plan will guide the county’s regulation changes going forward and will set the plan for how the county will work to preserve the remaining prime agricultural land in Park County. Around here, I can’t think of many things more important than ensuring that happens the best way it can.