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Developer dreaming of Palomino Hills

Developer Dan Stiles would like to purchase 120 acres in the Town of Somerset from the Victorian Belisle Family Estate to build an equestrian-themed subdivision called Palomino Hills, but it is still in the very early concept stages, according to Somerset Town Board and Planning Commission member Larry Rauch.

“When you add livestock in the mix you add a whole other set of issues,” Rauch said of the idea.

Stiles and engineer Scott Geddes of NorthStar Consulting Engineers have presented concept maps and preliminary plans to the Planning Commission and Town Board, including at the April 2 Town Board meeting, but the town and county have a long list of questions that must be answered before more planning can move forward.

The subdivision would be located near the intersection of 170th Avenue and County Road I at the northwest corner of the property, Rauch said.

“It’s interesting terrain out there,” Rauch said. “I can see why they’d want to do it there.”

Rauch said Stiles hasn’t bought the property yet. He also said Stiles has proposed having 20-some lots out there (down from 30-plus lots) with up to two horses per parcel. That won’t work, Rauch said.

Per state zoning laws, one horse per acre is allowed, Rauch said. With a design such as this, big open spaces must be left undeveloped for the horses. This development, based on open space acreage counting as animal density, would allow for 47 horses. Not everyone would be allowed two horses, and the question arises of who would regulate and enforce that number.

“Not to mention the waste generated by horses will be considerable,” Rauch said. “The idea is a nice thought, but the county has said its experience with this type of development has not been good.”

Concerns raised by the Town Board, Planning Commission and county staff include properly laid out roads paved and built to town standards; outlet onto the county road would need County Highway Department approval; the proposed homeowner’s association regulating non-payment of dues to aid in maintenance of roads and open space for the horses; controlling grazing in the open space and a grazing management plan to protect open space soils in drought and spring; bodies of water and wetlands on the property subject to the shoreland ordinance; septic systems and runoff from waste; and more.

The county asked the town for any comments on a concept map prior to April 16 for its Technical Review Committee meeting. The town outlined nine concerns, according to the Town Board meeting minutes, and asked they be resolved before the concept map is submitted back to the town.

Fire call fees

The board also approved billing property owners $500 for all structure fires, effective immediately.

Rauch said most insurance policies will cover this charge, and it prevents taxpayers from “having to foot the bill.” It also puts the town in line with other fire departments and municipalities in the area, Rauch said.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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