We have to look forward.

That was the message during last Monday's Winneshiek County Board of Supervisors meeting, where the Board approved a motion authorizing County Zoning Supervisor Tony Phillips to explore hiring a zoning consultant. The Board instructed Phillips to research the time and cost involved in having a consultant assist in rewriting the county's zoning ordinances.

"The county atmosphere is changing towards tourism," said Phillips in his presentation to the Board.

Phillips presented the idea to the Board at the urging of the Winneshiek County Planning and Zoning Commission.

He said the Commission is considering multiple changes to the county's current zoning ordinance, including the conditional-use permit procedure, a redefinition of the terms contained within the ordinance and the reorganization of (zoning) districts and permitted uses within them.


Phillips said the benefits of hiring a consultant to assist in an ordinance rewrite include: avoiding potential unintended consequences of terminology, gaining access to the consultant's database of definitions and access to other ordinances, procedures and issues in similar localities.

Phillips added the Board would need to budget the cost of hiring a consultant, and he would need the Board's authorization to explore cost estimates.


Supervisor Dean Thompson asked Phillips if a consultant would be available to rewrite about many issues, not just the current topics of campgrounds and frac-sand mining.

"We would be asking for a rewrite of the ordinance, including all issues currently recognized by the P & Z and those that may come up as the commission investigates," said Phillips.


Supervisor Mark Kuhn expressed concerns.

"There are some inadequacies in the ordinance regarding campgrounds ... I can see more hunting lodges in the county in the future. This is an ongoing thing," said Kuhn.

County Auditor Ben Steines said there will definitely be some issues with sand mining the Board may want to address.

"We have to have a cost estimate anyway," added Supervisor Floyd Ashbacher.

Ashbacher next asked if Phillips had any particular consultant in mind.

Phillips said in the past the county has worked with Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission and a firm from Rochester. He said the county's current attorney, Stephen Belay, recommended hiring a consultant who writes ordinances for a living and could prevent "known errors in creating unintended consequences."

"I would be in favor of that, 100 percent," said Board Chair John Logsdon.

"There are going to be new things coming into the county all the time ... Outdoor recreation is big and it's growing. Two of our biggest tourist draws are turkeys and trout," he added.