​Commission Approves Amendments to Ag Zoning Regulations

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Oct. 16 meeting, the Franklin County Commission passed two zoning amendments applying to uses of land zoned agricultural.
The first ammendment added “personal residential storage” to the list of  “Uses permitted” on agricultural land.
“As the regulation read unrevised, you couldn’t have a personal storage facility on agricultural land without a residence,” Chair Eddie Clark said. “It isn’t fair that farms can’t have non-farm storage buildings. It encourages folks to be dishonest about the use of buildings.”
“If you wanted to build a building to store a boat for example, you couldn’t do that,” explained Janet Petrunich, Planning Commission Director. Prior to the amendment, only structures for agricultural purposes were allowed on agricultural property without a residence.
The second amendment removed the language “for dwellings and farm buildings” from the section of the provision regulating setbacks.
“We took out ‘dwellings and farm buildings,’ because as amended the provision will apply to more things than just ‘dwellings and farm building,’” Petrunich said. “The setback requirement has not changed.”
The setback is 40 feet for front and rear yards and 25 feet for side yards unless the structure is served by a “modern” central sewer system (side yard setback, 15 feet) or situated on a river, lake or bluff (side yard, 10 feet; rear yard, 10 feet).
“If a building is used strictly for agricultural purposes, it does not require a building permit, so there are no setback requirements,” Petrunich said. “The building has to be agricultural purposes only,” Petrunich stressed. “If you park your car in there or a boat or something that’s not for agricultural use, the exemption from a building permit does not apply.”
“In fact, the language ‘dwellings and farm buildings’ should have been changed a long time ago,” Petrunich acknowledged, “since the setbacks listed in this section of the zoning rules does not apply to farm buildings.”
Petrunich emphasized that the zero setback provision applied only to agricultural use buildings on “a commercial producing farm” which she defined as commercial production of livestock or crops.
Both amendments passed unopposed.
The commission also reviewed several amendments to the Board of Education General Purpose School Budget including a $200,000 allocation for Huntland School’s gym roof.
“I’m not opposing this,” said Fuller, “but this has been an issue since Dr. Sharber was here. I feel like they should have put it in their budget.”
The amended school budget also passed unopposed.
Sewanee area Commissioner Helen Stapleton questioned why the county didn’t get multiple bids for the service contract to provide fire alarm and sprinkler system maintenance at the jail.
“We have existing contracts and agreements with the company Simplex Grinnel,” Clark said, “and we’ve been very pleased with what they’ve done for us in other county buildings.”
The commission approved the service agreement with Simplex Grinnel as well as renewal of the franchise agreement with Volunteer Wireless to offer cable television system in Franklin County and the Franklin County Farmers Market grant application for funding to purchase “fans for air circulation for a better shopping environment for customers and vendors.”