DAYTON — Dayton cheesemaker Monteillet Fromagerie's proposed amendment to end a long-simmering zoning dispute will be considered by Columbia County commissioners at a meeting Wednesday morning.
The amendment would allow on-site sales of agricultural products as a conditional use in the AR-1 zone. Commissioners are to discuss it at 9 a.m. in the County Courthouse.
The amendment was proposed by owners Joan and Pierre Monteillet through their attorney, Mike Hubbard, as a way to bring the cheesemaker into compliance with the county zoning code. They’ve spent the past year in a dispute with the county after planner Kim Lyonnais mailed a letter last August informing the Monteillets they could not sell cheese from their property because their zoning does not allow commercial uses.
Commissioner Dwight Robanske said he wouldn’t speculate before the meeting about whether the commission would vote on the amendment, or what the outcome of that vote might be.
“We’ll hold a discussion on it,” he said.
Commission Chairman Mike Talbott said he expected to vote on the amendment because involved parties have been pushing for a decision.
“I think we’re going to have pressure on us to decide,” he said.
Because the meeting is not a hearing, commissioners will not take public comments. The meeting is open to the public, and Talbott said Prosecutor Rea Culwell would read a statement before the meeting explaining how the process works and the rules governing the meeting. The public will be allowed to state opinions after the commissioners consider the amendment.
“We always allow people to talk, we don’t try to close people out,” Talbott said.
The issue was last discussed by the Columbia County Planning Commission on June 23, when commissioners voted 3-2 not to recommend the amendment for approval by the County Commission. Some members of the planning commission expressed concern that the wording of the zoning amendment would open the door for any type of agricultural product to be sold in the AR-1 zone, including marijuana.
Hubbard said he would attend the meeting and expected the Monteillets to attend as well.
“It’s a chance for the board of county commissioners to do the right thing for the community,” he said.
Rachel Alexander can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-526-8363.