County gains zoning change, replat for Extension building

It didn’t come without words of dissatisfaction, but Imperial’s city council approved both the replat and zoning change requested by the county for a new Extension building.
    Prep work for the building at the south edge of the fairgrounds along East 5th Street began in September without a required city building permit.
    It was then discovered the residential zoning (R-1) the new structure will sit on did not allow for a multi-office building either. That requires commercial-office (C-O) zoning.
    A public hearing on the changes at Monday’s city council meeting preceded the council votes.
    Jeff Tidyman, the building’s architect/engineer, first addressed the council.
    Saying the county needed a new place for some of its offices, it made sense for the Extension Service to be located at the fairgrounds. The entire fairgrounds property was zoned residential.
    It wasn’t until after bids were received Tidyman learned the zoning there didn’t allow for the building.  
    He and the commissioners talked about moving the building where the zoning wouldn’t be an issue, but in the end felt the fairgrounds was the best location for it, he said.
    They proceeded with pouring the foundation, he said, after contacting Building Inspector/Zoning Officer Nick Schultz.
    Schultz said he told Tidyman if they proceed it would be at their own risk and their expense if the zoning change wasn’t approved.
    As of Monday, there had not been a building permit issued. That could not be done until the zoning was changed.
    The project also required a replat of the area on which the building will sit. In effect, that separates the ground on which the building will be into a separate lot because of the zoning change. Zoning for the rest of the fairgrounds will remain R-1.
    Some asked for clarification on the protocol for such a building.
    Attorney Mike McQuillan of Ogallala, who was at the meeting in place of Josh Wendell, said the correct process would be first to split the lot via the replat, then seek the zoning change and finally acquire a building permit followed by development.
    “That is the reasonable way to proceed,” McQuillan said.
    City Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland said standard practice is that no work should be done until a building permit is issued.
    Charlesa Kline, who conducted the meeting in the absence of Mayor Dwight Coleman, said the situation puts them between “a rock and a hard place.”
    Saying no to the zoning change affects tax money already spent, Kline said, yet protocol was not followed.
    “If it was a private individual that’s their risk, but this is the community’s risk,” Kline said.
    “It was not handled properly.

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