By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Imperial Planning Commission members discovered some differences in commercial zoning provisions after receiving a request to re-zone property at the corner of 12th St. and Hwy. 61.
In a special meeting and hearing earlier this month, the board received a request from Centennial Ag Supply to re-zone a pivot corner on the northeast corner of 12th Street/Hwy. 61 intersection.
The land is presently zoned Agricultural and Centennial Ag sought a Light Industrial designation for the property.
The Planning Commission was unable to act on the request because Centennial Ag has not completed the purchase of the ground or properly posted the zoning request on the property.
However, the issue was still discussed at length by the board.
Jake Adler of Centennial Ag said they plan to build a sales and warehouse facility on the property, along with storage for fertilizer.
Roger Harmon, who owns the Imperial Inn across the highway west of the proposed location, expressed some concern about the kind of chemicals that could be stored and how it could affect the safety of his guests.
A Light Industrial designation could also open the door for the manufacturing of fertilizers or other manufacturing processes.
Adler indicated the site would be for warehousing and storage only. He noted the manufacturing of their products is done in Venango and they have no plans for any manufacturing on the site.
Commission members discussed the possibility of zoning the property Commercial-Highway like other properties in that area.
Commercial-Downtown zoning allows warehousing of non-flammable items as an approved conditional use.
However, when the commission members investigated the approved conditional uses for Commercial-Highway, warehousing was not listed.
City Administrator Jo Leyland said it was unusual that the conditional use was allowable in the downtown zoning but not in the highway zoning.
She speculated the warehousing provisions may have been unintentionally left out of the highway zoning when the zoning regs were updated in the past.
If included, Centennial would have been able to seek a conditional use permit for the property.
Second business affected
In an unrelated issue, Helena has purchased the former Noble Energy building north of Imperial Inn on Hwy. 61.
They, too, plan to warehouse chemicals and store fertilizer, much like Centennial Ag is planning.
As a result, they are in the same situation in which warehousing is not included as an approved conditional use in Commercial-Highway zoning.
To remedy the issues, Leyland said the present owners of the pivot corner, Haarberg Farms, can apply for the zoning change from Agricultural to Commercial-Highway.
The Planning Commission would then have to add warehousing as a conditional use to the Commercial-Highway zoning. Leyland said the storage of anhydrous ammonia would be prohibited as part of the approved uses.
Centennial Ag and Helena could then both apply for conditional use permits, which would allow warehousing in the Commercial-Highway designation.
Assuming Planning Commission approval, Leyland said their action must still be approved by the city council, followed by the adoption of an ordinance to make the zoning changes.
Leyland said the Planning Commission is also looking at adding language to require a building permit when a mobile home is moved into the city.
In addition, the mobile home would have to meet certain government safety specifications.
Leyland said no date has been set for the Planning Commission to address the possible changes.