A group of Pleasant Dale residents and former land owners are pushing the Pleasant Dale Planning and Zoning Board to amend a recently revised ordinance the residents say just doesn’t make sense.
The board is expected to make a decision on the amendment at a 4 p.m. meeting July 18 at the fire hall.
The issue arose more than a year ago when Talli Kratochvil and her family moved to an acreage near Pleasant Dale they purchased from Emil and Dianne Turek.
The Kratochvils got a permit to build a corral and lean-to for their two horses, then received a notice from the village stating that they could have the structures on their property but no horses because of an amendment made to the zoning ordinance.
The amendment changed the minimum lot requirements to house livestock from 5 acres to 20 acres.
Kratochvil said she worked with the county to put together a proposed change to the ordinance and collected dozens of signatures, but the board chose not to adopt the change.
At its June 20 meeting, the board heard a request from the Tureks, who submitted an application to change portions of the ordinance to allow up to three animal units on the first five acres, and more animal units as the size of property increased.
The submitted application, though, because of a misunderstanding, didn’t reflect what the residents actually wanted to change. In order to take action on a new request, the village had to republish notice.
The board will hear the new request July 18.
Maureen Freeman-Caddy, the village’s attorney, said the initial change came about when she and the board reviewed its policies.
Previously, she said, a resident could own an unlimited number of animals on property zoned as Large Lot Residential, which could be less than 20 acres.
In order for property to be zoned as Agricultural Residential, it has to be at least 20 acres.
The Tureks and the Kratochvils said five acres is plenty of land for a couple horses.
Freeman-Caddy said most communities allow a couple animals on five acres, generally for 4-H or FFA projects.
“You don’t want a house of 500 turkeys on five acres. That was the goal with the change,” Freeman-Caddy said.
“Sometimes it’s not five acres for usable space,” she said, adding that some properties are restricted by nature, such as if a river runs across it.
“A football field is one acre. That’s generally the rule of thumb. It’s a lot of space,” Freeman-Caddy said.
Scott Pekarek also spoke in favor of amending the ordinance to allow animals on five acres.
“The village has decided to change things as they see fit, which they have the right to do that. However, that does affect our property that does border Pleasant Dale and any future growth,” he said.
Pekarek lives near Garland and has animals on his 37 acres there, but he owns property around Pleasant Dale that he would like to split up and sell as five-acre lots.
“We’re going to be limited to who we can sell to. A lot of people that have five acres would like to have an animal or two,” he said. If I can’t develop it into five-acre lots, the village isn’t going to grow. It’s going to stay farm ground forever. Maybe the village doesn’t want to grow, I don’t know.”
Pekarek also expressed his concern about the board being “in disarray” over the past year, at times not having enough members on the board to meet legal quorum requirements, and village officials whose families have land in the areas in question.
“I think there’s been some shenanigans here. Somebody needs to be held responsible for this and straighten this out,” Pekarek said. “I would hope our voice has a little bit of value.”
Kratochvil echoed Pekarek’s words to the board.
“I think Scott probably is right. I think there’s some bias going on in the community and this board,” she said.
Kevin Cline, a member of the Planning and Zoning Board, said he thought the Kratochvils and others should be able to keep horses on their land.
“I think it’s...harsh you can’t have a horse on five acres,” Cline said, adding that he would support allowing up to three animal units on five acres of land.
If the proposed change is made, Kratochvil would then have to request to have her land rezoned to Large Lot Residential. She asked if the village board would approve that if it got to that point.
“Can we count on that?” Kratochvil asked.
“Historically, Planning and Zoning has made recommendations that have gone completely the other way,” Janice Trease, a member of the zoning board, said.
Roger Michaelis, who’s also on the zoning board, said five acres might not be enough land for animals.
“One horse on five acres. You have a house, a lagoon, a well, a building. Now you have a horse on one acre. Your chances of contaminating your well...That’s why we put that at 20 acres,” Michaelis said.
Discussion, among other topics, also focused on upkeep and maintaining properties to keep them free of manure and other nuisances, which Kratochvil and Pekarek said could be regulated by other laws.
Michaelis moved to deny the request as presented but asked Kratochvil and the Tureks to submit a new request that would allow two animal units on five acres and one additional animal unit on each of the next two acres.
“I would back that 100%,” he said.
The board will consider the new request at its July 18 meeting.