What makes a farm a farm? Primary use, says Wright County Assessor

This year, 70 Wright County parcels previously classified as agricultural land were newly assessed as residential. One of the re-classified parcels includes what used to be the county farm, located just southeast of Clarion on Nelson Avenue. The parcel is owned by Steven Smith, who last year raised three acres of alfalfa on the seven acres of land.

Smith said his land has been used for farming for more than 100 years. “If there’s an ag process occurring on the parcel, it should be considered ag land,” he said, regardless of how much income the property owners make from farming. But Shari Plagge, Wright County assessor, argues that what matters in classifying land is primary use.

Smith was concerned that unclear state guidelines give assessors too much power to determine how land will be assessed. “It’s like the assessor’s office is becoming a legislator and a lawmaker,” he said.

Additional regulation for classifying property is something that comes up every once in a while in the state legislature, according to Plagge. “It doesn’t usually get very far, because there are so many different types of multi-use properties,” she said. “I don’t think you could have black and white code for every situation.”


For the full story, see the April 20 edition of the Monitor.