By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
After months of meetings and discussion, the city’s updated zoning regulations are now in the books.
Final approval was given on a 4-0 vote at the Nov. 3 council meeting.
Last week’s vote didn’t come, however, until after the council dismissed one suggestion by the Planning Commission involving animals in the city’s large lot residential districts. The issue involved the distance fences enclosing those animals can be from neighboring residences.
Large lot residential (LLR) districts are single family residential districts on a minimum of two acres. There are currently five LLR districts abutting nearly all sides of the incorporated city limits.
Animals are allowed in those districts, but the number of animals per acre is restricted by what type of animal.
The previous zoning regs required the fence enclosing animals to be 100 feet from another residence, but the council changed it to 150 feet at a meeting last month, sending it back to the Planning Commission.
At the Planning Commission’s Oct. 21 meeting, they voted 5-0 to move it back to the original 100-foot requirement.
Planning Commission Chairman Nick Schultz said members were specifically concerned with how the 150-foot distance would affect the property owners within the mile jurisdiction outside the city, including the Genesis subdivision at the east edge of Imperial, which is an LLR district.
Several homeowners there have animals, and when fences were built, they went by the 100-foot zoning requirement, he said, and the county road setback requirements. The 150-foot restriction won’t affect those fences already built there since they are now grandfathered in, but will affect future ones.
Council member John Arterburn said the change back to the original 100-foot distance affects him “and I’m probably the only one it does affect.”
Arterburn’s home is next to a LLR-zoned piece of property, whose family has animals.
In the end, the council decided to set the fence distance to 150 feet, as they preferred last month, instead of 100 feet. Specifically in Arterburn’s case, the property next to his will be grandfathered in, as well, so will not have to meet the new 150-foot fence requirement.
On a suggestion from Arterburn that the regulation apply to only residences in the city limits, the city attorney said it’s not legal.
“If you’re grappling with whether you can have separate rules that apply within the corporate limits from those in the city’s jurisdiction (mile halo around the city limits), the answer is it has to be uniform in the same zoning,” said Mike McQuillan, who attended the meeting as city attorney in the absence of Josh Wendell.
One other suggested Planning Commission change in the zoning regs involved churches in residential districts. The Planning Commission suggested striking the line “churches are exempt from the maximum building coverage regulation,” which had been proposed.
However, the commission supports the proposed zoning regulation that “churches remain exempt from the maximum impervious coverage regulation,” which defines how much of the lot can be dedicated to hard surfaces.
If there was no limitation on building size, there could be a very large structure built in the middle of a residential area, Schultz said, in explaining the Planning Commission’s reasoning.
Allowing churches the exemption from the impervious rule, however, “implies the Planning Commission would be open to a variance” on a case-by-case basis for a larger church structure than size regulations allow.
Cities of Imperial’s size are required to update their Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations every 10 years. Imperial’s updated Comprehensive Plan, separate from the zoning regs, was approved several weeks ago.
Other major changes in updated zoning regs
Mobile Home Parks are now required to apply for a license in March each year starting in 2015, with an annual renewal process. Imperial has three—Capitol Mobile Home Court, Winter’s Trailer Court and SeLoCySe Trailer Court.
Larger garages are now allowed in residentially-zoned areas. A garage can now be 1,200 square feet with 12-foot sidewalls. That’s an increase from the former 864 square feet maximum and 10-foot sidewalls.
All zoning districts now have percentage limitations on how much of the lot can be covered by the building and impervious surfaces.
Other council business
Three replats gained council okay after they were forwarded with Planning Commission approval. One joins four lots into one on the Don Kelley property on north Broadway for a garage. Kelly had earlier requested a zoning change to commercial for the now-vacant lots adjoining the property his home sits on, but has since withdrawn that application. A second replat joins property Harchelroad Motors purchased from Marvin Large along East Highway 6 adding it to the lot where Harchelroad’s is building a new dealership. The third replat will add property to the south that Pinnacle Bank is purchasing from Koch Chiropractic for the bank’s drive-through to allow more room.
Mike Harris, in his 10th week as interim administrator at the Imperial Manor and Parkview/Heights, gave the monthly financial report. He said census has been good with 37 in the nursing home and 28 residing in Parkview/Heights. Work continues on hiring a new administrator with “one promising candidate so far.”
A total of $898.09 in unpaid utility accounts and other purchases from the city were approved as write-offs. Eight were utility accounts and three involved purchases such as bulk water from the city. Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said none of those people will be hooked up to city utilities in the future until their balance is paid. City office staff continues to try to collect the unpaid accounts, she said.
The new tractor purchased for the city’s street department last month will now have a loader. The council approved the $10,500 loader cost from 21st Century Equipment. Plans are to sell a smaller tractor/loader the city owns.
Three previous nuisances were rescinded on a 4-0 vote because they have been cleaned up or now meet codes. Two involve trailers that were moved off the lots at 310 and 314 Eskew and out of town, while the other involved an unlicensed vehicle at Winter’s Court Lot 22.
A final payment of $5,000 was approved for Werner Construction, the general contractor on the Sage Addition/West 12th street project. That amount had been withheld from the contract until areas were reseeded and curb repair done in the work area.
Two new firemen were approved on recommendation from the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department. Wesley Prosser and Wade Courter are now IVFD members.