Volume 106, Number 3 - January 15, 2009
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Town Council wants input on ordinance
The Pinedale Town Council met Monday evening with a small agenda but a large audience. Reminiscent of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting a week before, many in the audience attended the meeting to discuss proposed Ordinance 442, which was slated for its second reading on Monday night.
“I have received many comments, in written form, e-mails, telephone calls and in the milk lane at Ridley’s,” said Mayor Stephen Smith in his opening statement. “Bottom line, I think it’s a good ordinance for the town…so I would like to see it through to fruition with public comment and concerns regarding the language and everything.”
With that, Mayor Smith asked that the council table the ordinance until residents had been given ample time to provide feedback, allowing the town to make the appropriate adjustments. He then opened the floor for discussion.
The ordinance would replace Ordinance 362, which currently outlines the requirements for anyone applying for a building permit for commercial use.
“A couple of people were talking that we already have a site plan ordinance, and that’s true. We do,” said Smith. “Unfortunately, about the extent of the language of the site plan ordinance is that you must provide a site plan.”
At slightly over a page in length, Ordinance 362 lacks both the detail of the fourpaged 442, as well as language concerning the aesthetics of future projects.
As it is now written, Ordinance 442 would also apply to the construction of new commercial buildings, as well as those undergoing a usage change with costs that exceed the $20,000 threshold. The ordinance goes into much greater detail concerning the submitted contents of the application, which must also be endorsed by a licensed engineer. The $20,000 threshold was the first component called into question, and it was quickly dismissed as being too low.
“If you have it at $20,000, you’re going to have a lot of projects come in at $19,999,” said councilman Dave Smith. “It’s just the way it works.”
“The numbers should be increased obviously, from $20,000 to a much higher number, which will protect current business owners from being penalized for increasing the size of their business,” said Mayor Smith.
Suggested possible thresholds ranged from $50,000-$150,000.
Local developer Matt Harber also suggested the possibility of basing the threshold for any changes to an existing business on the percentage of change to the building’s original structure.
“I would tend to suggest that you provide some thresholds of percentages, which we talked about before,” Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie later said. “You get three things — parking, square footage or cost.”
The interpretive language of the ordinance was also discussed, particularly as it relates to the aesthetic nature of future commercial projects.
“The language in this ordinance about aesthetics is primarily there because if you don’t have some sort of language about aesthetics, somebody can come in, build whatever they want, and if you tell them no, they can sue you,” said councilman Smith. “I understand we don’t want the aesthetic Gestapo to tell us what we can and can’t build in Pinedale, and I agree with that. That’s not the point of that language in this ordinance.”
Other issues with the ordinance involved specific language, including the stipulation that only licensed engineers could endorse applications. Instead, the language should include all design professionals, including architects, surveyors, etc., according to a resident’s letter that the mayor read.
The drainage requirements of the proposed ordinance were also questioned, given the costs of adequate drainage.
“If (developers) conduct new construction in this town, and they don’t have proper drainage, and that drainage ends up on the town right-of-way or on your property, you’re going to sue them or us,” said Mayor Smith. “And the taxpayers have to pay for their lack of foresight.”
All on the council were in agreement that the ordinance should be tabled for the time being, until the issues raised could be addressed. “We may need to redo this, look it over, have public input, but I don’t want to throw it out,” said councilwoman Nylla Kunard, who cited advice given to the Town Council a few years back that warned of overbuilding and ways to combat it.
“My thinking is that with the amount of interest and all, that we ought to revise it,” said councilman Dave Hohl. “I don’t think we should act on it now.”
“In its current form, it is not acceptable to, you folks, and it’s not acceptable to us either,” said councilman Smith.
The mayor then closed discussion of the ordinance, welcoming any interested members of the public to pick up a copy of the ordinance and provide constructive commentary to “me or Gene or the town hall by e-mail or letters or phone call.”
— The request for a building permit by Big Rig Catering went unanswered after no one on the Town Council chose to make a motion.
Issue was taken with the fact that the business had already started construction on the interior remodeling before the building permit had been given.
“I don’t want to bless it before (the business owner) comes in and acknowledges that he put the cart before the horse,” said councilman Smith.
— With 1.2-1.25 million gallons of water currently going through the town’s water treatment facility, Public Works asked that money “not to exceed $9,000” be allotted for a fourth water pump.
At present, the three-pump system is built to handle upwards of 1.5 million gallons, and Public Works would prefer a wider safety threshold.
— Residents should not leave plowed snow in front of easements or alleyways to allow access in the event of an emergency. The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26.
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