A Dane County panel has rejected a rezoning request to allow an auto recycling center and salvage yard to be located in the town of Christiana.
Members of the county’s Zoning and Land Regulation Committee acknowledged their unanimous vote on June 8 broke with a recommendation from the Christiana Town Board that was in favor of the zoning change for two acres along U.S. Highway 12-18, from a heavy commercial to a manufacturing and industrial designation.
Committee members said the call was a hard one to make, but in the end said they felt the requested change conflicted with the town’s land use plan that emphasizes agriculture preservation, and limits development in this area to family-owned businesses that serve town residents.
“What’s not allowed are intensive commercial uses,” said committee member Tim Kiefer.
Kiefer said plans for the business that were submitted with the zoning change request, that anticipate up to 50 vehicles being delivered to the site each week, and up to six workers and an owner being on-site daily “to me sounds more like intensive commercial uses,” that would not be directly serving town residents.
“Town residents themselves would certainly not be producing 50 vehicles to be recycled per week,” Kiefer said.
Allowing the change would also be potentially detrimental to the village ofr Cambridge’s western gateway along the Highway U.S. 12-18 corridor, committee members said.
The Cambridge village board has gone on record as against the proposed change.
County zoning staff also recommended that the request be denied.
George Boyer, who hopes to purchase 5 acres at 275 U.S. Highway 12-18, near Rodney Road, from landowner Robert Johnson who submitted the rezoning petition, and to rezone two of those, spoke to the committee on June 8. He expressed dismay that the county would consider the proposed business incompatible when another longtime auto salvage year is located directly across the highway. He said he expects to invest more than $1 million in developing the site.
“It’s going to be nice,” Boyer said. “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to have a salvage yard there.”
Committee members said, however, they made the call based on the proposed rezoning, not on the merits of the business itself.
“I do think this is a really close call,” Kiefer said. “On one hand it’s hard to say how this would be inconsistent with a salvage yard already in operation directly across the street.”
“I do not like voting against what the town board has called for,” said committee member Steven Peters. However, Peters said, “when you look at what the town plan says this does not fit the bill. If the town wants to change the plan to make this fit that would be an option.”
County staff said they would be open to helping Boyer revise the plans within the existing zoning designation.