Agricultural buildings now allowed on vacant land in Polk

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 25, 2018

COLUMBUS — Owners of vacant land in Polk County can now build agricultural buildings outright if they have 10 acres or more, and with approval of a conditional use permit on less than 10 acres.

Polk County Commissioners approved an amendment to its zoning ordinance last week after holding a public hearing.

Commissioners approved the amendment unanimously.

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A resident with 32 acres requested the amendment because he wanted to build a building on his vacant land to store a tractor and was not able to do so.

“I think the man should be allowed to build the building,” resident Grey Lancaster told the commissioners. “If you don’t allow him to have a barn, you should help him till it.”

County planner Cathy Ruth explained that the county currently does not have a use for any type of accessory building, with a main residence on the property.

“It’s allowed if there is a residence on there, but can’t without,” Ruth said.

The Polk County Planning Board recommended agricultural buildings to be allowed on properties with 10 acres or more, or allowed as a conditional use for less than 10 acres.

The county approved amending the ordinance to add a new category to its permitted use table in all zoned districts to include Agricultural Building for 10 acres or more, and as a conditional use for less than 10 acres, as well as adding a definition for agricultural building and a definition for building height.

The definition for agricultural building is, “a structure on agricultural land designed, constructed, and used to house farm implements, livestock, or agricultural produce or products used by the owner, lessee, or sub-lessee or their immediate families, their employees, and persons engaged in the pick up or delivery of agricultural produce or products grown or raised on the premises. The term ‘agricultural building’ shall not include dwellings.”

The definition for building height is, “in measuring a building/structure, or part thereof, to determine compliance with the maximum height provisions, measurement will be taken from the level of the highest point, or part thereof, and shall not include ornamental cupolas, weathervanes, belfries, chimneys, flag or radio poles, unless otherwise defined.”