Village says no to resident’s rezoning bid

Board denies application for agricultural designation that would have allowed small livestock on residential property
By 
Connor Carynski
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Saukville Village Board denied a unique request from property owner Stephen Zehnder on Tuesday.

Zehnder, who owns a largely wooded seven-acre plot along South Main Street, filed an application to have his residential property rezoned to agricultural so he could raise chickens and other small livestock on the property.

In the residential zoning district, Zehnder is prohibited from raising livestock on the property, according to village code. 

“The only way to get that is to have agricultural zoning,” he said during the meeting.

Zehnder purchased the property about three years ago and said he and his family are in the process of creating a greenhouse and growing crops. In addition, he would like to raise chickens to collect eggs to share with family and friends and said he is also interested in raising a few goats for milk. 

Under the agricultural zoning designation, property owners are allowed no more than one horse or sheep per every two acres, no more than five chickens or ducks per acre and no more than eight rabbits per acre.

The board denied Zehnder’s request on a 3-1 vote, with one abstention.

Prior to the June 8 board meeting, the rezoning request was rejected by the Plan Commission because Zehnder’s property is surrounded by residential lots, according to Trustee Richard Belling, a commission member. 

“The highest and best use of that property is for residential, not agriculture. That is the reason the Plan Commission denied his request,” Belling said during the Village Board meeting.

While one of Zehnder’s neighbors submitted a letter to the board expressing concerns a rezone to agricultural would reduce their property value, two other neighbors attended the meeting to urge the board to approve the rezone.

Suzanne Flynn, a neighbor and the former owner of Zehnder’s property, said she  approached the Village Board in 2000 with hopes of residential development on the property but was denied because the board at the time did not believe village infrastructure could support homes in the area.

“Now he wants to do something that is really non-offensive to all the neighbors I’ve spoken with, and I can’t understand why there’s an issue,” she said.

Flynn said now that the board has denied the rezoning, Zehnder can neither conduct agricultural work nor residential development on his property. 

Village Administrator Dawn Wagner said the village’s development process may be different than Flynn experienced more than 20 years ago, and that the land may be suitable for residential development.

Zehnder’s neighbor Nick Thill also supported the rezoning request. He said allowing Zehnder to raise a few animals would put the undeveloped land to more use than its current state. He added that Zehnder’s property is large enough that it would not  disturb neighbors.

“To me, he is making more use out of the land,” he said. “No one is even going to know it’s there.”

Belling and trustees Jim Nowlen, Andy Heiben and Village President Barb Dickman voted against the rezoning, trustee Scott Fischer voted in favor of the rezone, and trustee Trevor Seitz abstained.

Seitz said he did not have enough information to vote on the matter.

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