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Third time’s a charm

PRINCETON — The Bureau County Board has approved a rezoning request on rural Wyanet property, in spite of objections from some neighbors.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the county board approved by voice vote a request from AgriHunt Farms LLC to rezone a four-acre property on 1200 North Avenue in Wyanet Township from agriculture to resort/recreational. The rezoning will allow AgriHunt Farms LLC to have up to 10 campers on the property.

In his comments to the board, objector Richard Schoon said he sold the property to Tom Gibson, owner of AgriHunt Farms LLC, thinking Gibson was going to build a single-family home on the grounds. The property has been used for the past couple years as a campground without county approval. He (Schoon) wanted to go on record to purchase the property back and even give Gibson an additional $500, Schoon said.

His objections include the increased amount of traffic on the road, which is already busy with school buses, mail carriers, farm equipment as well as local traffic, Schoon said. The entrance into the campground site can be difficult to see, which makes it unsafe. There are potable water and septic issues. Property values will be negatively impacted. If this rezoning request goes through, there is the possibility that other similar type campgrounds could get spread around the county, Schoon said.

In summary, Schoon said he doesn’t see one positive thing coming from allowing the rezoning request, and he’s 100 percent against what would happen on the property. He asked county board members to think how they would feel to have 10 campers next to them.

Also addressing the board in opposition to the rezoning request were neighbors Ellen Stoneberg, Bunny Madsen, Barbara Schoon, Walter Langdon and Jill Kunkel.

In his comments to the board, AgriHunt Farms founder and owner Tom Gibson said he met with Bureau County Zoning Officer Kris Donarski last spring and initiated the rezoning process in May to bring the property into compliance with the county’s zoning ordinance. He has been investing money and working to clean up the property, which had been a junkyard for years, Gibson said.

Three of the campers on the site are owned by him, with the other campers privately owned by people he knows, who sign an annual lease agreement with him, Gibson said, adding the camp site is family-oriented.

Addressing some of the objections, Gibson said the entrance into the property has been found safe and adequate by county and township road officials and even contains a staging area. There are policies in place dealing with emergency planning, health and sanitary issues. There are rules and regulations in place for what is allowed and not allowed, including the fact that there is no hunting or gun shooting on the property.

Also, the Bureau County Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Board of Appeals both recommended approval of the rezoning application, Gibson said. Local entities, including affected school districts, township and county officials, have no objections to the rezoning either, he said.

Following more than an hour of speakers and board discussion, board member Mike Maynard made the motion to send the rezoning request back to the county board’s zoning committee, since the committee did not make a recommendation on the request. The committee’s responsibility is to investigate and to give a recommendation, which may or may not be followed by the full board, he said. That motion failed.

Board member Dan Rabe then made the motion to deny the rezoning request, which failed on a voice vote.

In the third motion of the night on the issue, board member Tom Giordano made a motion to approve the rezoning request, which was approved by a voice vote.

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