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Sat, March 23

Future of Young's Farm up in the air

DEWEY-HUMBOLDT ­ Young's Farm will be gone in a few months, but uncertainty remains about what will happen with the property.

The Town Council rejected Monogram Development Services' proposal for The Village at Young's Farm Tuesday night.

Monogram Partner Don Allison has said since January that his group is committed to the property no matter what the council decides. After the council defeated the plan, he reiterated that statement.

"The property will be developed and you will see us here again before you," Allison told the council. "We will approach things differently with our next plan, but we will bring a quality project to the town."

Allison did not say when the company would have another plan. Town Manager Roger Swenson said he has no timetable for a new proposal. When Monogram has a new project, it will go back to the Planning and Zoning Commission and then the council again.

Questions remain about the status of the Young's Farm property despite Allison's stated commitment to it. Monogram signed an option to buy the property from the Youngs, but both parties have kept details of their agreement private.

Gary Young said that's the way they want to keep it.

"Don (Allison) will make his decisions how he wants to develop the property," Young said, commenting on whether Tuesday's council action affected the agreement.

Young, who had supported Monogram's proposal, said he is disappointed with the way it played out.

"I think the community is not going to get the effect of the property as a community asset or the amenity that it can be if it is developed as a private property under the existing zoning," he said. "But I respect the community's right to make that decision."

Allison said Tuesday that it's unfortunate the community wasn't able to vote on the issue. Although he believes the project would have won out if it had gone to referendum, he said Monogram probably would not seek an initiative to put it on a future ballot.

Citizens still could pursue an initiative, but Swenson said that if the applicant, Monogram, isn't involved, he has no way to know if the company still wants to go with that plan. Had the council approved the ordinance, citizens would have been able to seek a referendum. With the council voting against the ordinance, no council action exists to refer to the voters.

Allison, Mayor Tom Hintze and Vice Mayor Bob Greene think the group opposing the project represented a minority of the town. Garry Rogers, chairman of the Citizens for a Rural Community (CRC), disagreed.

"I believe you'll always find 70 percent or more oppose an increase in density or commercial development," said Rogers.

Rogers said it was good to resolve the issue and to have Mayor Hintze step down because he thinks Hintze's vision for the town differs from what the majority of town residents want.

Rogers also said the CRC plans to seek a moratorium on rezoning until the town approves a general plan. He said the group could accept development of the Young's Farm property but not what Monogram proposed.

"All along we assumed that if we were going to lose that farmland to development, it would go to (current zoning) of 1.6-acre lots," Rogers said.

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