Planning OKs CUP and construction, delays landscaping decision

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Michelle and Keith Frey appeared before the Planning Commission at its Nov. 17 meeting to represent their application to continue a Conditional Use Permit for a three-unit tourist lodging at 20 Pivot Rock Rd. Chair Melissa Greene stated the application met all conditions necessary and read a letter of support from a neighbor.

Michelle Frey said the sale should close in early January, and commissioner Woodie Acord noted the property has been operating as a tourist lodging for years. Vote to approve the application was unanimous.

Commissioners also approved the application from Lawrence Blood to construct a new multi-use building at 560 W. Van Buren. He said he had removed a dilapidated building on the site as approved previously, and intends to replace it one that will “add curb appeal to the neighborhood.” Acord commented the new building would be an improvement, and vote to approve the application was unanimous.

Landscaping ordinance gets scrutiny

The subject of regulating landscaping on new constructions arose because of a recent application, so commissioners discussed it, but delayed a decision. City Economic Development Coordinator Glenna Booth noted there had been an ordinance on landscaping passed in 1993, which during subsequent codifications had been relegated to the section dealing with perimeter parking requirements. She said results left the ordinance confusing and hard to enforce.

Commissioner Susan Harman read the beginning of Ordinance 1548 stating, “Each off-street parking area which is adjacent to a public right-of-way shall be separated from such right-of-way by a landscaped strip of not less than five (5) feet in width. Such strip shall contain evergreen ground cover or an evergreen hedge or an equal or better alternative. In addition, such strip shall contain at least one (1) deciduous tree not less than three (3) inches in caliper measured six (6) inches above the ground level for every one hundred and fifty (150) square feet of required landscaped strip.”

The ordinance goes to detail requirements for larger parking areas, but commissioners focused on the mandate for a deciduous tree and listed several instances in which this requirement might not be appropriate, such as proximity to a sewer or gas line or uneven terrain. Booth added some deciduous trees are invasive, and suggested commissioners could at least develop a list of acceptable trees or consult resource material from state agencies which handle urban landscaping issues.

Commissioner Doug Breitling suggested they revisit this discussion when they take on Low Impact Development next year.

Public comment

Bob Jasinski claimed the Bed & Breakfast at 265 Spring does not have adequate parking according to City Code. He maintained there was a promise made at the time the CUP was issued that the parking would be rectified but nothing has been done. He also claimed the CUP was a “clear violation of the 200-foot rule” because there are two other lodging properties nearby. Since there never was a request for a waiver or variance, Jasinski reasoned Planning had no legal authority to grant the CUP, and asserted the commission had an obligation to reconsider the situation and revoke the CUP.

Other business

Commissioners voted to send to council recommendations regarding revisions to City Code regarding wedding venues, private events in residential zones and the 180-day rule.

Next meeting will be Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 6 p.m., in the Auditorium lobby. Commissioners also noted the only meeting in December will be Tuesday, Dec. 12.

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