Hünenberg, 11.06.2024

Special agricultural zone to be created in the canton

In the referendum vote on Sunday, voters in Hünenberg have approved the partial revision of the zoning plan and building regulations by a large majority. 83.15 % of voters placed a yes in the ballot box. Fruit grower Jonas Boog is "delighted" with the result.

It is a very clear result: with 83.15 % of votes in favour, the people of Hünenberg have said yes to the "Buuregarte" special agricultural zone. This corresponds to 2,882 votes in favour and 584 against. The voter turnout was also very high - at 59.41 %. With their verdict, the voters followed the recommendation of the municipal council (Gemeinderat) and the local parties, who had unanimously backed the proposal. The vote was specifically on a partial revision of the zoning plan and building regulations. The Drälikon area can now be transferred to a special agricultural zone – and this will be the first in the canton of Zug.

Within this zone, it is explicitly permitted to produce in substrate, independently of the soil. The Boog farming family, who grow fruit and vegetables here, have been focussing on this form of production for some time. Among other things, they grow their produce under foil tunnels. A federal court (Bundesgericht) ruling from 2013 states that horticultural and vegetable growing operations in the agricultural zone will only be zone-compliant if the production is predominantly soil-dependent. The planning of the special agricultural zone was thereby started in Hünenberg a few years ago – working together with the canton.

The Boog family now has legal certainty. Accordingly, fruit grower Jonas Boog is "delighted" with the clear approval of the proposal. "We could only hope for such a result. For us, this is a sign that the people of Hünenberg are behind our work. But it is also a task that we are happy to take on." Before the vote, the farming family emphasised that the existence of their business was at stake. If the new zone had failed at the ballot box, the Boogs would have had to dismantle their non-zoned buildings and facilities.

Fruit grower Jonas Boog shows his strawberry cultivation               Photo: Matthias Jurt

Anonymous opponents stood no chance
In the run-up to the vote, the so-called "IG pro Reussebene" (interest group for the Reuss plain), whose members did not appear by name, used a flyer to campaign for a no vote on the bill. The IG spoke out against an "industrial plant" in the Reuss plain and against "an ugly intrusion into nature, massive additional lorry traffic, night-time light pollution and additional foreign harvest workers". Jonas Boog was irritated by this - as were the Hünenberg political party presidents, who wrote in a letter to the editor that the flyer contained "tendentious untruths".

To date, the anonymous opponents of the special agricultural zone have not entered into dialogue with him, says the fruit grower. He understands that some people may be sceptical, and thanks those who have expressed their criticism constructively and openly. "But I struggle when unfounded accusations are spread."

The Boog family had campaigned for a Yes vote with a poster campaign, among other things. Jonas Boog was unaccustomed to the fact that, as a farmer, he had to engage in local politics almost involuntarily. "Sure, we're glad that it's over now," he says, adding: "It gave us strength that the whole family, many friends and acquaintances kept believing in us. You can't take that for granted." In any case, he is grateful for the support his family has received from various quarters.

According to a statement from the municipality of Hünenberg, the next step following this approval will be the second public consultation with the opportunity to lodge an appeal. Jonas Boog says: "We want to fulfil our tasks as quickly as possible, for example with regard to the visual protection of our facilities." Some details still need to be clarified. They will meet with the municipality as soon as possible.