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Rezoning ordinance draws audience to council meeting

Rezoning ordinance draws audience to council meeting

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WAHOO – The discussion over a proposal to rezone property in the Chestnut Street corridor brought a number of people to the most recent Wahoo City Council meeting.

On Tuesday, Nov. 9, the council discussed a proposed ordinance to rezone property from C-1 Downtown Commercial to C-3 General Commercial in an area along Chestnut Street and a portion of Maple Street from 15th Street to Third Street.

Public hearings were held at the Planning Commission meeting on Oct. 7 and the city council meeting on Oct. 28.

No action was taken by the council at the previous meeting. The council voted to reconsider the ordinance on Nov. 9.

Several property owners located in the area affected by the proposed zoning change voiced opposition to the ordinance or indicated they did not fully understand the issue.

After a lengthy discussion, the council chose to assigned its general committee to work on the ordinance in advance of the next planning commission meeting.

The idea behind rezoning this area is to make it fit in with standards that have been developed for the Chestnut Street corridor. The city spent $6 million to update this roadway and have installed decorative lights and provided sidewalks and lanscaping along the street to improve the appearance.

General commercial zoning (C-3) provides front yard setback requirements that would help preserve the work done along Chestnut Street. The design standards in C-3 also include landscaping requirements that would fit better along the corridor.

In flyers prepared to notify property owners of the proposed zoning change, the Wahoo Planning Department stated that the area is more suitable for C-3 General Commercial than downtown zoning.

The intent of C-1 zoning is for high level density commercial and retail areas. Zero setbacks are allowed. Parking is provided by the city on the street or in city-provided parking areas.

In C-3 zoning, the intent is more general commercial enterprises. Parking is provided by the businesses.

A plan by a business called Java Boys to build a Scooters coffee house at the corner of Fifth and Chestnut also prompted the zoning change proposal. Java Boys has filed an application for a minor subdivision in preparation for development of the property.

The area was originally zoned Neighborhood/Residential/Commercial (NRC), which is a mixed use zoning. The city council rezoned it to C-1 in 2004.

There are several properties in the affected area that do not conform either with the structure or with use, but they are grandfathered in under city ordinance, according to City Attorney Jovan Lausterer.

Council members agreed that the area should be rezoned.

“C-1 to C-3 is the right thing to do,” said Council Member Carl Warford.

But there were some varied opinions on how it should be done. Some council members thought the area should be divided into smaller pieces and tackled one piece at a time. The agenda included an amended ordinance that would reduce the area from Seventh to Third streets along Chestnut.

But in the end, there was no motion to move to a vote on the amended ordinance. Instead, the council will tackle the corridor but do it in a way that will also inform the public along the way.

Warford and Council President Stuart Krejci said they would like find out how the property owners in the corridor feel about the proposed zoning change before the council moves forward.

Suzi Nelson is the managing editor of the Wahoo Newspaper. Reach her via email at suzi.nelson@wahoonewspaper.com.

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