Farmer City begins zoning study

Officials look at assuming city zoning control from county


CLINTON — Farmer City will move forward to assume authority over its own zoning.

City attorney Jeff Hanley, during Monday’s council meeting, gave an overview of what was required for the city to assume zoning authority from DeWitt County. 

Hanley said city manager Sue McLaughlin asked him to look into the possibility of the city taking over control of zoning from the county.

“What’s been suggested is that maybe the city wants to implement its own zoning control within the corporate limits of the City of Farmer City,” Hanley said. 

Hanley said the first part of the process would be to establish a zoning commission, which would “investigate establishing zoning within the corporate limits.”

The zoning commission also would be responsible for developing a zoning map for the city as well as a zoning ordinance.

“Once the zoning commission has done that, they then present their findings and recommendations to the city council,” Hanley said.  “And, then, you all have the final say whether you want to do it.”

The council also would have the flexibility to amend the ordinance or map.

“You have that control,” Hanley said.

Hanley and McLaughlin also would have input into the preliminary work conducted by the zoning commission.  The commission would be made up of from three to five members appointed by the mayor.  Once the city establishes it own zoning, the zoning commission would be dissolved.

“The zoning commission would expire by its own term,” Hanley said.  “This is a sort of one-shot deal, one mission for this particular commission.”

Another commission could be formed then to administer the actual zoning apparatus developed.

Qualifications to serve on the zoning commission could be broad, ranging from any resident with an interest in the city to people with knowledge or experience with zoning.

“I think special qualifications are provided by Sue, who has a background in zoning and professional experience,” Hanley said.

“Then, you create a ZBA (Zoning Board of Appeals), which is seven members appointed by the council,” McLaughlin said. 

Mayor Scott Testory endorsed the plan.

“I think it’s in our interest to establish our own zoning,” Testory said. 

McLaughlin said the next step would be to begin collecting names for possible appointees to the zoning commission.  She said some municipalities create their own zoning ordinances from scratch.

“But, we have discussed potentially adopting the county’s ordinance under the auspices of the city, tweaking it a little bit,” McLaughlin said.  “So, everybody’s zoning stays the same, there are no major changes.”