March 20, 2019

County to revisit 40-acre rule

By Betsy Ryan
Farmer Staff Writer

Many turned out to the McKenzie County Planning and Zoning board meeting last week to voice their opinions about the “40-acre rule.” In effect since 2015, the board opened up discussion on the ordinance, allowing residents to weigh in on whether or not it was time to change the rule.
The 40-acre ordinance states that to place a home on agriculturally zoned land in McKenzie County, a landowner must own at least 40 acres. Before this ordinance went into place in 2015, there was a series of much smaller minimum parcel sizes, one and then five acres, that a person had to own in order to build a home.
“Before we updated the county’s comprehensive land use plan in 2013, we surveyed stakeholders about their priorities and two of the elements that ranked high were the protection of agricultural land and containing urban sprawl,” said Vawnita Best, who served on the planning and zoning board as a county commissioner when the 40-acre rule was drafted. “The current ordinance at the time did not address either concern.”
The overwhelming majority of landowners who addressed the board last week, however, were much more concerned with their personal property rights than protection of their land and urban sprawl.
“I think that the county crossed a line,” said local resident Nevin Dahl. “It is not their right or their place to tell me as a landowner what I can do on my personal property.”

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