A Pacific property owner who wants to divide a piece of the family farm for eventual passage to two sets of heirs is faced with building codes requiring infrastructure improvements.
Barbara Alt, widow of the late Leroy Alt, wants to divide a 19.6-acre tract of family farmland on Industrial Drive into two tracts, one for herself and one for her brother and sister-in-law, Henry and Charlene Alt.
Henry Alt and his son Paul lease the Barbara Alt property, which they farm along with land they own and some other leased farmland.
Alt filed a boundary adjustment plat, which was considered at the Feb. 12 Pacific Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
The petitioner is not asking for a zone change from the current nonurban (NU) zoning district or a change in land use. The property will continue to be farmed.
City zoning codes classify the boundary adjustment as a minor subdivision and require infrastructure improvements to be installed at the time the subdivision is created.
“This would attach street, sidewalk, curb, gutter and streetlights to a piece of farmland,” Alt said. “I can see that they should be put in if the property is ever developed for homes or for industry, but they’re not needed for a farm.”
Alt asked the city to postpone the infrastructure requirements until someone wants to develop an industrial or residential subdivision on the property.
The two brothers, Leroy and Henry Alt, bought the 19.6-acre tract jointly in 1965 before either brother married. They later added their wives to the deeds. Barbara Alt has three children. Henry and Charlene Alt have three children.
Henry and son Paul farm all the original Alt family farm, including several later parcels, including the 19.6-acre tract. They plan to continue to farm all the parcels.
The boundary adjustment would allow Barbara Alt’s heirs to inherit her 8-acre portion of the tract and Henry and Charlene Alt’s heirs to inherit the 11.6 acres.
Philip and Emma Fries Alt, grandparents of Leroy and Henry, owned the original 122-acre farm.
Barbara Alt was unsure when the original farm was acquired. “But it’s been more than 100 years,” she said.
Leroy J. and Florence Herzig Alt, Leroy and Henry’s parents, were the next owners. Leroy and Henry, who were born on the farm and grew up there, inherited it from their mother, who survived her husband. Other family members added adjoining farmland including the 19.6 acres that the two brothers bought in 1965.
The Alt land is bordered by industrial and residential developments.
“Paul is the fourth generation family member to farm this land and he plans to continue farming,” Barbara Alt, the petitioner, said. “This land could be used for farming for another 100 years.”
Speaking at the planning commission meeting, Todd Streiler, city planning director, told Alt that he doubted aldermen would accept the plat. He said the city wants to bring all the properties within the city limits up to current codes.
Newly seated planning commission member Steve Myers said there should be some accommodation to a longtime property owner who is merely seeking to leave property to their heirs.
“All Barbara (Alt) wants to do is to leave this to her heirs,” Myers said. “I’d like to see us find a way to help her so she is not burdened so much would be in the best interest of the city.”
Linda Bruns, P & Z chairman, also expressed concern for property owners who are not seeking to develop land.
“This is a property owner who just wants to divide the property for future heirs,” Bruns said. “Her family members will end up with that property. She is just trying to take care of future heirs so they are not burdened with this. We need to show some sensitivity to the needs of citizens.”
Streiler said the upcoming discussion on writing a new master plan for the city would be a good time to discuss the transition of land from one generation to the next.
Streiler, who will author the new comprehensive plan, said he plans to hold meetings with citizens, which might be a good time to establish rules for subdivisions that differ from the traditional industrial parks or large home subdivisions.
Barbara Alt said she feels strongly that some changes need to be made. There are at least five farms in or adjoining the city of Pacific, which family members want to continue as farms.
“Todd Streiler is an urban planner and I think he looks at the city land use as urban, but this is a small municipality with a history as a farm community,” Alt said.
“I believe the city code is incomplete the way it is because it does not provide for all the land uses,” Barbara Alt said. “I’d like to see some provisions for property owners to transfer property to their heirs.”
With Jerry Eversmeyer casting the one no vote, the planning commission approved a recommendation to the board of aldermen that construction of infrastructure on the 19.6 acres be postponed until such time as the property is developed. Commissioner Jim Smith was not present.