Town of Oregon
Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
1. Call Planning Commission meeting to order.
Acting Chair Wayne Ace called the Planning Commission Regular Meeting to order at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
Present: Paul Morrison, Tom Wiedenbeck, Andy Blomstrom, Dave Hagemann, Acting Chair Wayne Ace, Brian Duffin, Sharon Christensen and Deputy Clerk Jennifer Hanson.
Also present: Town Board Supervisors Steve Root, Phil Van Kampen and Fred Clark. Residents Pat Hermsen, 5375 Netherwood Rd. and Tim Fox, 5669 Bell Brook Rd. Bill Buglass from Payne & Dolan and Jim Welsh from Heritage Land Trust.
2. Approval of minutes from the last meeting.
Duffin moved, seconded by Christensen to approve Planning Commission Regular Meeting Minutes from 03-17-15 with the following corrections: Amend the sentence under agenda item 4, last paragraph, to reflect that the Town of Oregon contributed a total of $18,000 to the Village of Oregon bike path by a unanimous decision of the town board at the November 5, 2013 meeting. Amend the sentence under agenda item 7 to read, Steve Root reported that they were successful maple tapping at the Anderson Park. Motion carried 7-0.
3. Public Comments.
a. Pat Hermsen, 5375 Netherwood Rd., conservation easement
Pat Hermsen approached the commission last month to pursue a conservation easement for his property. The commission asked Pat to invite Jim Welsh from Heritage Land Trust to discuss the town’s responsibilities for a conservation easement. Pat and his wife would like to restrict the development of their property and eventually donate the land to the town or village for a walking park. Jim Welsh explained that a conservation easement is a legal real estate tool to voluntarily and permanently restrict certain uses of land. The Heritage Land Trust organization has worked with the Town of Dunn for 15 years to protect farmland. Conservation easements are a way for land to stay open and undeveloped. The easements are flexible to achieve certain goals such as; agricultural preservation, protect scenic loss, wetlands and forestlands. A unit of government or an organization like Heritage Land Trust can hold a conservation easement. The Heritage Land Trust is a non-profit organization that works with community plans. The problem is the Village of Oregon Future Land Use Map plans for future development of the Hermsen property. Heritage Land Trust doesn’t like to get involved with easements that are in the path of logical development. The Town of Dunn has used easements to negotiate satisfactory boundary agreements with the Village of McFarland. The Hermsen property is challenging because the municipalities may have differing goals of the property. The Village of Oregon has not yet been contacted. The conservation easement would limit any future development of the property. Property in a conservation easement can be sold or willed, but it will always remain subject to the terms of the conservation easement. The landowner considering an easement would decide how many development rights they want to keep. Pat doesn’t want to keep any of the development rights attached to his property. The two homes currently on the property would be split and not included in the gift to the town. The landowner would continue to pay property taxes based upon use of the property. Conservation easements are similar to a deed restriction, except a conservation easement is permanent. Conservation easements are designed to be almost untouchable, however they are subject to condemnation. There are conservation easements in the town between the DNR and landowners around the Brooklyn State Wildlife Area. Jim explained that an easement is a private transaction, so technically the town would not need village approval. However, Heritage Land Trust wouldn’t be involved if there isn’t agreement among the parties. An easement on this property would not allow for an extensive development use like a soccer field, but rather a walking path to enjoy the beautiful views. The landowner would be responsible for management of the property until the town is gifted the land. The town will then assume the management of the property consistent with the conservation easement. Both the building rights and the mineral rights would be no longer available on the property. Heritage Land Trust requires a donation to the Madison Community Foundation endowment fund of $8,000 to $10,000 for each easement. It provides for the resources necessary to uphold the easement. This includes an annual visit to the property and insurance to defend the easement in court. The landowner or the community pays the one-time endowment fee upfront. Pat is willing to pay this fee. No one can remember what happened the last time Jim appeared with Tom Buglass when he was considering the same type of easement. The town can be a co-holder with Heritage Land Trust and there is no cost to be a co-holder. The town can hold the easement even if the village rejects, but Jim recommends checking with the town attorney. The commission discussed the next steps to be taken. Tim Fox, 5669 Bell Brook Rd., spoke in favor of reducing the housing development in the town. This agenda item will be added to the next town board meeting.
Duffin moved, seconded by Hagemann, to recommend to the town board pursuing a conservation easement with Pat Hermsen, 5375 Netherwood Rd. The plan commission would like to review easement. Motion carried 7-0.
4. Discussion and possible Action re: Review of town ordinances.
A preliminary of the Town of Oregon Fee Schedule was presented. The commission decided to postpone review of Chapter 11 unit a new plan commission member was in place.
Bill Buglass reported that the hours at the Anderson quarry are limited, but to call him if the town needs any product.
5. Discussion and possible Action re: TORC procedure.
Hagemann discussed cleaning the trees around the burn pit at the TORC. Tim Fox mentioned that recycling compactor has been full. There was discussion about burning green wood.
6. Discussion and possible Action re: Appointment of vacant position on plan commission.
Ace thanked the plan commission members for their time, knowledge, effort and hard work. Tom Wiedenbeck accepted the open position of Town Board Supervisor. Tom will also represent the town board on the plan commission. Wayne will not chair both the plan commission and the town board, but will fill in until a replacement is found. Ace asked if the plan commission members would like to open up the application process for a new plan commission member or chose an applicant that applied for town board supervisor. The applicants for supervisor were Jason Marshall, Dave Batker, Chris Johnson, Tom Wiedenbeck and Arlan Kay. The chairman of the plan commission can be nominated by the members. Blomstrom suggested opening the application process up because the plan commission position is different from town board supervisor. Ace would like the plan commission to submit the names of two or three applicants to the town board for final appointment. The advertisement seeking applicants will be published in the Oregon Observer on May 7th & 21st and the deadline to return applications is Monday, June 8th. The plan commission will review the applications on Tuesday, June 18th.
7. Update on Anderson Park.
Steve Root reported that on May 16th at 6:30 pm the Friends of Anderson Park will be having a community bonfire and refreshments will be served. Ace encouraged everyone to join the Friends of Anderson Park group.
Duffin clarified with Root that the monetary donation to the village bike path is coming from the park fund and a designated recreation/transportation line item in the town budget. Blomstrom asked Deputy Clerk Hanson to follow-up with Charter for a date when the lines are to be buried this year. Ace invited the plan commission members and spouse to a dinner at the Town Hall for a meet and greet on Monday, May 18 at 6:30 p.m.
Duffin moved, seconded by Hagemann to adjourn the meeting at 7:50 p.m. Motion carried 7-0.