Johnson County is Trying to Violate Iowa Law and Control Your Farm – Take Action!The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is considering a zoning ordinance that could back your farm into a corner, by requiring county approval of new farm buildings and structures, denying “farming” status to some small farms and farms deemed not “economically viable” by the county, assessing civil fines or criminal penalties for noncompliance, and more.
Not only do these changes threaten Johnson County farms, many of them violate Iowa law, which says zoning ordinances do not apply to "land, farm houses, farm barns, farm outbuildings or other buildings or structures which are primarily adapted, by reason of nature and area, for use for agricultural purposes, while so used."
Now is the time for action! You have two opportunities to make your voice heard:1) Speak at the Johnson County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) public hearing (addressing the Board of Supervisors) on December 5. The meeting is at 9 AM, at the health and human services building located at 855 S Dubuque Street in Iowa City. All county residents are welcome to attend and speak.
2) Email your comments to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors leading up to the December 5 public hearing. Click the button below to email your comments.
EMAIL THE SUPERVISORS
Additional background on the UDOJohnson County Farm Bureau has closely monitored the progress of the Johnson County Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for years. Our members have worked with the county Planning and Zoning Commission on numerous recommendations for the ordinance to address their concerns. Now, it’s up to the Board of Supervisors to pass an ordinance that doesn’t place restrictions on our farms.
Some of our key concerns with the ordinance:• No farmers should be required to submit an application and get county approval before building a house, constructing a grain bin or outbuilding or growing their livestock farm.
• The county should not restrict raising livestock on farms in the rural area, require a public hearing before the county supervisors or require county zoning approval.
• The county should not require farmers to prove that their farm operation is "economically viable" or that their farm pays a "competitive market wage."
• Small farms should not be singled out and regulated more stringently than medium or larger-sized farms.
• All farms should be treated the same and not be discriminated against because of their size or diversity.
Other issues with the ordinance include that the county has not shared a map of the proposed zoning districts to allow landowners to comment on their district. Also, a retired farmer's home and farmstead would be regulated and not exempted from the ordinance if they want to build new, repair or expand their home. It is also unclear whether grain dryers are included as an agricultural use. And finally, the ordinance allows for criminal penalties, not just a civil fine.