Public hearing to consider Worthington zoning changes
WORTHINGTON -- The Joint Jurisdictional Task Force created to address zoning changes around the perimeter of Worthington is hoping to collect public comment during a meeting set for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Farmer's Room of the Nobles County Gover...
WORTHINGTON -- The Joint Jurisdictional Task Force created to address zoning changes around the perimeter of Worthington is hoping to collect public comment during a meeting set for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Farmer's Room of the Nobles County Government Center.
The task force, consisting of two representatives each from the Nobles County Board of Commissioners, Worthington City Council, Worthington Township and Lorain Township, has met 14 times over the course of 18 months to address potential changes in the zoning map.
The county's zoning map has not been changed since 1965.
"We redid our 2025 plan a few years ago and usually when you do your comprehensive plan, you redo your zoning maps, too," said Wayne Smith, Nobles County Environmental Services director. "We didn't because we were waiting for the city to redo its comprehensive plan.
"This isn't an annexation, this is basically the county rezoning the area around the city to match their comprehensive plan," he added.
Much has changed in regard to development around the City of Worthington since the 1965 maps were drawn -- most notably the sites earmarked for potential JOBZ zones several years ago. Smith said the county's zoning maps still show many of those areas zoned for agriculture or highway industry.
Wednesday's meeting will address approximately 50 parcels -- all located within one-half mile of Worthington's city limits. Smith said he anticipates some good discussion to come from the public meeting.
"We think some of the people there may have some good ideas," he said. "When it's your property, you know more about it than anybody else and ... can give better insights."
The meeting will include a presentation of proposed zoning changes, a question-answer period and time to collect suggestions on possible changes.
"It's not set in stone," Smith said of the proposal.
Mike Hoeft, chair of the Joint Jurisdictional Task Force and P&Z commission member representing Lorain Township, said he's pleased with what the group has developed.
"We're happy with it," he said. "We went through several versions."
The plan to be presented Wednesday identifies the area west of Worthington to be developed for residential usage, the north side for highway business and the east side as industry. The south side will likely see little change.
"There is a large area (on the south side) that is difficult to get public services to, so they don't see a lot of development and growth there," Smith said.
Among those affected by the proposed changes are homes located in agricultural zones that are slated to be changed to industrial zones. Houses along 244th Street directly north of Interstate 90 would be affected by the change, but to what extent is still uncertain.
"If it's a highway business now and will go to residential, that's probably the most difficult," Smith said, adding that rules for multi-residential housing are much different from highway business.
"That can limit what (businesses) can do in the future," Smith said. "We don't want (business owners expanding) when, in the future, everything around them is going to be different from what their proposed setting is."
Smith said he has already fielded a number of questions from property owners in the affected area.
"We know we're going to create some concerns, and we will probably create some opportunities," Hoeft added. "The county and township development plans needed to be brought into alignment with the city's comprehensive plan."
Following Wednesday's public meeting, Smith said the Joint Jurisdictional Task Force will consider the comments and suggestions and make a recommendation on the zoning map to the Nobles County Planning and Zoning Commission on March 26. He anticipates the commission would make a recommendation that night to send the proposal on to the Nobles County Board.
"It's quite possible some lines will be moved, and clarifications and text changes are also expected," Smith said.