Minutes for the Springfield Planning and Zoning Commission

Date: August 5, 2010
Time: 6:30 P.M.

The regular meeting and public hearing of the Planning and Zoning Commission was held on the above date and time in City Council Chambers, third floor of City Hall with the following members and personnel in attendance: Jack Wheeler, Chair; Shelby Lawhon, Vice Chair; Thomas Baird, IV; Gloria Roling; Jim Hansen; Jay McClelland; Matthew Edwards; King Coltrin; Phil Young; Mike MacPherson, Principal Planner, Planning and Development; Ralph Rognstad, Director, Planning and Development; Bob Hosmer, Senior Planner, Planning and Development; Nancy Yendes, Assistant City Attorney; Martin Gugel, Public Works.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES:          

The minutes for the commission meeting of July 8, 2010, were approved unanimously.

COMMUNICATIONS:

Mr. MacPherson requested that Agenda Item 5 be moved farther down the agenda, making it Item 8.5. He said that Mr. Rognstad and Mr. Hosmer would be presenting the City’s summaries for some of the agenda items.

FINALIZATION AND APPROVAL OF CONSENT ITEMS:
(These consent cases will be approved by Commission unless a Commissioner or someone else wishes to speak to them.  If so, those cases will be moved to the appropriate place on the agenda and they may be spoken to, and voted on, at that time.)    

  1. Relinquish Easement 751                                  Strong, Garner and Bauer P.C.
    (415 E. Chestnut Expressway)
  2. Relinquish Easement 751                                  James Wehr Trust
    (2100 block E. Chestnut Expressway, south side)

Lawhon made a motion to approve the consent agenda. Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows:  AYES: Wheeler, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon, Coltrin, Young; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

 

HEARINGS: 

ZONING MAP AMENDMENT:

3.     Z-14-2010                                               City of Springfield
       (1300 block of E. Atlantic St. and 2000 block of N. Rogers Ave.)

Mr. MacPherson said this case was a request to rezone approximately 3.1 acres, generally located in the 1300 block of E. Atlantic St. and the 2000 block of N. Rogers Ave. from a GM, General Manufacturing, to an R-TH, Residential Townhouse, zoning district.
 
He then read the following excerpt from the City’s staff report:

Staff has been contacted by property owners along the 1300-1400 blocks of East Atlantic Street about rezoning their properties from a GM, General Manufacturing District to an R-TH, Residential Townhouse District (Exhibit 1). All of the properties are developed with single-family homes, which are nonconforming in the GM district.

Mr. MacPherson said the property owners have not been able to get loans from banks to make improvements nor have they been able to sell their homes because banks will not give loans to potential buyers. He said that due to the nonconforming status, the owners were limited in their ability to make additions onto their houses. He said that if any of the subject properties were destroyed, by 75 percent or more, they could not be rebuilt as single-family houses. He said if such lots were redeveloped with general manufacturing land uses, they would be limited in their intensity of development by the fact that they would need to provide bufferyards.  

Mr. MacPherson then read the following parts of the staff report:

In 1995 when the new Zoning Ordinance was adopted, staff identified similar residential areas. The City was able to rezone the properties from manufacturing to residential, but in some residential areas the property owners were resistant because they thought their property was worth more zoned manufacturing or they had activities on the site that required a manufacturing district. Since 1995, we have had several residential areas request the City rezone their properties because the property owners generally cannot afford the cost of the application and advertising. This requires that City Council initiate the rezoning by approving a resolution.... City Council initiated the rezoning request [under discussion] on July 12, 2010.

He said that two property owners in the subject area have told the City they did not want to be included in the rezoning. They are Maxine Tygart and Jared Sexton. He said that staff is recommending approval of the case but with the property of these two persons removed so that their properties remain zoned General Manufacturing.    

In response to a question from Mr. Wheeler, Mr. MacPherson said that the properties opting to keep their GM zoning would need to provide bufferyards if they redeveloped with a manufacturing-type land use. Mr. McClelland asked if the two people opting out of the case had been told about “that 75 percent destroy rate.” Mr. MacPherson said yes, they had been. Mr. Baird asked about the zoning of the properties abutting the subject properties. Mr. MacPherson said they are zoned R-TH.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.

Leah Kidwell, 1340 E. Atlantic, said she wanted the rezoning so that she could add another bedroom onto her house. She also said that her homeowners’ insurance premium had gone up because her insurer had assumed that if her house burned, she would not be able to rebuild it as a single-family house.

Cynthia Rondini, 2007 N. Prospect, said she was against the rezoning because R-TH zoning would allow a lot of townhouses to be built in the neighborhood, which would increase the number of families and would increase the traffic. Mr. Wheeler said it was his understanding that R-TH zoning allows only “two housing units per lot.” Mr. MacPherson said that “under the building code, with the side yards and all that, it would greatly reduce the ability to impact [the neighborhood adversely].” Mr. Baird asked why the City wants the zoning to be R-TH rather than R-SF. Mr. MacPherson said it was because of the existing R-TH zoning in the area. Mr. Wheeler said he did not think three families could occupy a single lot in an R-TH district. Ms. Rondini said she was told that a townhouse could be three stories tall, and she said it would be possible to build a lot of townhouses in the neighborhood.

Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. Baird asked if there were size limits for General Manufacturing lots. Mr. MacPherson said that GM-zoned lots would need to put in bufferyards and that would “create a separation ... and the lots are rather small.” Mr. Baird asked if the City could “force a zoning on them.” Mr. Rognstad said that the City has the power to rezone property over the objection of a property owner. But he said there was a historical precedent, in such a case, for Council only rezoning the property of people who want it to be rezoned. He said that in a GM district there is no minimum lot size but there are requirements for off-street parking.

Lawhon made a motion to approve zoning case Z-14-2010 “and exempt the Tigart and Sexton properties from the rezoning.” Coltrin seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

4.   Z-16-2010                                    Center Court, LLC, and Denali Investment Co.
     (6000 block of South U.S. Hwy 65, west side)

Mr. Wheeler recused himself and Mr. Lawhon took over temporarily as Chairman of the Commission meeting.

Mr. MacPherson said that Zoning Case Z-16-2010/COD36 is a request to rezone approximately 40.86 acres, generally located on the west side of the 6000 block of South U.S. Highway 65, from a Greene County A-1, Agriculture District and Planned Development District No. 258 to a GI, Government and Institutional Use, zoning district, and to establish Conditional Overlay District #36.

Mr. MacPherson said the proposed conditional overlay district would require “a development agreement regarding certain improvements to be constructed in conjunction with the  development of this site”; he then read the following excerpt from the City’s staff report:

The Growth Management and Land Use Plan element of the Comprehensive Plan identifies the U.S. Highway 65 and Evans Road interchange as a potential activity center. The Plan notes that this is the southernmost U.S. 65 interchange in Greene County and is also the easternmost terminus of a proposed east-west arterial street that would eventually link with National and Campbell Avenues, Kansas Expressway and ultimately the city of Battlefield to the west.  

The Southeast Springfield Development Study accepted by City Council in 2002, examined potential development patterns and infrastructure needs for key undeveloped properties or potential development properties in an area bounded by just north of Battlefield Road on the north, the Greene and Christian County border on the south, National Avenue on the west and State Route J on the east. Three major development alternatives were drawn to explore the variables in the future road system and land use pattern in order to work toward a preferred alternative. The recommended alternative indicated a concentration of retail, office and multi-family housing at four locations within the study area including at Evans Road and U.S. Highway 65. 

Mr. MacPherson said the annexation and the zoning would “move together,” and at the “final hearing” the annexation would be approved before the zoning was changed. He said the “orthopedic facility” would occupy between twenty and thirty acres on the northeast part of the subject tract. He quoted the following sections of the City’s staff report (Staff Comments section):

1.   The subject property consists of approximately 40 acres on the west side 6000 block of South U.S. Highway 65.  Approximately 30 acres of the subject property, currently in the process of being annexed into the city, is zoned Greene County A-1, Agriculture District.  The remaining ten acres is currently zoned Planned Development District No. 258. The applicant is requesting to rezone the property to a GI, Government and Institutional Use District for the purpose of constructing a new healthcare facility. St. John’s Hospital plans to build a 48 bed orthopedic facility on the subject property. 

2.   The Comprehensive Plan identifies this area as a potential activity center that is to be a location of significant business, office and housing. It is intended that additional development be concentrated in and around activity centers so as to optimize transportation investments, citizen convenience, investor confidence, a compact growth pattern and a sense of urban excitement. The combination of access, density and diversity allows activity centers to grow into community focal points. Approval of this request, along with the required public improvements, creates the opportunity for this property to develop with the proposed healthcare facility, which will create jobs and spur additional development within this activity center. The proposed development is compatible and complimentary to the mixed commercial, office and residential uses permitted in the remaining portion of Planned Development 258 adjacent to this property to the west and in Planned Development 302 to the north. 

3.   Development of the property requires addressing the lack of an adequate thoroughfare system in the area. The Conditional Overlay District that accompanies this zoning case requires that the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) for the property be limited to 0.01 until the property owner enters into a development agreement with the City which shall provide for the terms and conditions under which roadway improvements will be constructed to serve the development and support the change in development density. The road improvements to be addressed in the development agreement include, but are not limited to, modifications to the existing interchange at Evans Road and U.S. Highway 65, the extension of Southwood to the subject properties and the construction of the first phase of the east-west arterial road in the region. This FAR allows 435 sq. ft. per acre until there is an agreement. The proposed GI zoning allows a maximum FAR of 1.0. The development agreement, which will be required to have approval from City Council, will detail the required public improvements to support the proposed intensity of this project and provide assurances that the improvements will be completed upon development of the property.  
  
4.   The City is in the process of annexing a portion of the subject property. City Council approved a Resolution to initiate the annexation at their July 12, 2010 meeting and is expected to hold a public hearing at their August 23, 2010 meeting along with this application. 

Mr. MacPherson said staff was recommending approval of the case based on the following findings:

1.   This request is consistent with the recommendations of the Comprehensive Plan, which identifies the U.S Highway 65 and Evans Road interchange area as a potential activity center and the Southeast Springfield Development Study which identifies this as an area for retail, office and multi-family housing development.
 
2.   This request is compatible with and complimentary to the mixed commercial, office and residential uses permitted within Planned Development 258 adjacent to the west and Planned Development 302 to the north of the subject property.

3.   This development will have adequate public infrastructure to meet the proposed development intensity.  A development agreement is required through the Conditional Overlay District to address the infrastructure needs for this project.

Mr. Young asked about the southern boundary of the annexation. A member of the audience indicated where the boundary was on the graphic being displayed in the meeting room. Mr. Hansen asked if the proposed new east-west street would line up with Evans Road. Someone in the audience said something inaudible. Mr. Lawhon asked if the development and the road improvements would happen at about the same time and he asked who would be paying for the roads. Mr. Rognstad said yes, the improvements would happen together and that the City and the developer and other property owners in the area would share the cost of the roads.

Mr. Lawhon opened the public hearing.

Randall Wallace, 1845 S. National, said he was representing the applicant. He said the request was to receive GI zoning on the subject site. He said he thought the proposal would kick-start development in the subject corridor. He said the traffic “problems” on Evans Road would be improved. He said he had not heard any negative comments from the neighbors. He said he would entertain questions, as would the project manager and the project engineer and the executives from St. Johns who were in attendance.

Mr. Hansen asked about access roads. Mr. Wallace, pointing to a graphic displayed in the meeting room, said that “MoDOT is requiring that we cut this outer road off, so an additional access road to these people down here is being required.” Mr. McClelland asked about the “wooded area” on the site. Mr. Wallace said it was his understanding that St. John’s would try to incorporate some of the existing trees and the “natural water features” into “the campus.” In response to a question from Mr. Coltrin, Mr. Wallace said there had been a discussion about transferring some MoDOT right-of-way to St. John’s.

There being no other speakers, Mr. Lawhon closed the public hearing.

Mr. Hansen asked about the future east-west road corridor shown on one of the maps. Mr. Rognstad that the road corridor in question was planned so that it could possibly someday extend to the west as far as highway FF. Mr. Baird asked what portion of that roadway would be completed as a result of this proposal. Mr. Rognstad said that the portion was the part that “would connect to Southview coming down,” and he said "the curve in Evans would be cut off.”

McClelland made a motion to approve zoning case Z-16-20120/COD#36. Roling seconded the motion. The motion carried as follows: AYES: Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: Wheeler (recused); ABSENT: None.

ZONING TEXT AMENDMENTS:

5.  Storage Trailers                                    City of Springfield
     (City-Wide)

(Per the Communications section above, this case was discussed out of turn. It was discussed after Agenda Items 6, 7, and 8.)

Mr. Rognstad said that staff had been working on these amendments since 2006. He said the proposal would add definitions to the Fire Code. He said the changes to the Zoning Ordinance could be broken down into the nonresidential zoning districts and “how it’s used there” and the residential districts. He said the proposed ordinance would not regulate the use of storage containers by “the railroad.”

He said that in the nonresidential districts the ordinance would say you could not place the storage containers anywhere that you could not also place a building. He said there was an extra provision that dealt with the placement of a storage trailer/container in any area where a property adjacent to the subject property was not zoned manufacturing. In those cases, you could not put the storage trailer/container in a triangular area intended to serve as a buffer between the container and an adjacent structure, so that the adjacent structure would “not have [a trailer] right ... in [its] front yard.” He demonstrated on a graphic displayed in the meeting room how the dimensions of the triangle would be determined in various cases and for various lot sizes. (The graphic is on p. A-6 of the copy of the proposed ordinance given to the Commission.)

He said, “There is no time limitation; there’s no limitation on the number of trailers other than how the property owner is limited by the other restrictions.” He said, “There will be some properties, because they’re totally built out, that would not be able to continue to use trailers and containers.” He said there would be a requirement that everybody would have to come into compliance within six months of the date of adoption.

He said that in the residential zoning districts, there are limits on the number of trailers and the time period in which containers are allowed. He said there was a provision to allow the placement of up to three containers for a 72-hour period. He said that another provision allowed a person to have one container on his property for not more than sixty consecutive days, and not more than two such periods would be allowed in a year. He said that part of the ordinance would address situations in which a person placed a container on his property temporarily, while some construction work such as remodeling (that did not require a building permit) was going on. He said another section of the law would address recycling. He said recycling would be allowed but with restrictions.

Mr. Edwards asked if there would be a time limit on "construction." Mr. Rognstad said there would be no time limit other than the stipulation that the container be removed within fourteen days of completion of the construction project.

Mr. Coltrin asked whether the new law might require some businesses to “do away with the operational procedure they’ve been using for years?” Mr. Rognstad said that that was correct.
Mr. Colrin asked if it might be possible to revisit this ordinance later and evaluate how it is doing. Mr. Rognstad said that yes, that would be possible, if Commission specified that as part of its recommendation to Council.

Mr. Baird asked how the law would treat businesses that are in the business of providing storage containers to the public. Mr. Rognstad said that typically such businesses are located in areas zoned for industrial activity and those areas have fewer requirements. He said the law would mainly cover the end user of the container.

Mr. Young asked if the trailers would be permanent or temporary. Mr. Rognstad said that in Section B “there is no limitation other than the location.” Mr. Young said that he was confused about the building-code aspect of the law. Mr. Rognstad said that the trailer would be “permanent from the sense that you can pull the trailer on there and you can leave it there forever and store things in it, but the only way to provide any kind of utilities to it ... [would be] to convert it to a building and then you would have to meet all the code requirements.”

Mr. McClelland said that the big box stores in town “all park those things on the parking lot,” and he thought the new law would make that practice illegal. Mr. Rognstad said that if a store had extra parking, beyond what was required, it could place a container in some of the surplus parking spaces.

Mr. Young said he thought that the proposed law would result in an explosion of new storage containers in the city, and he wished there were a provision in the law for a time limit. 

Mr. Edwards said he too was in favor of modifying the ordinance so that it included some time limits.

Mr. Wheeler asked staff if a delay in reviewing the case would be harmful. Mr. Rognstad said that it might happen that the current administrative delay would expire, but it could be extended without a lot of trouble. He then gave some history of how the contents of the proposed ordinance had evolved over the years.

Mr. Hansen said he agreed that there should be a time limit on the trailers and he didn’t want to see trailers being used as a way to get around building a building which would pay property taxes.

Mr. Edwards mentioned the idea of tying a permit for a container to a permit for a building. Mr. Rognstad pointed out that a lot of remodeling projects did not require a building permit.

Mr. Coltrin said he did not think that now was a good time to be increasing the burden on businesses. He said he was concerned that the proposed law would “have an adverse effect on some of our small businesses.”

Mr. Young said he knew of a situation where a person in a wheelchair had problems because he couldn’t get access to files stored in a storage container. He also thought that storage containers might be so large that they could evade the fire code by not being sprinklered.

Mr. Coltrin said that the last time a law affecting storage containers was discussed, the fire chief had said that there had been no storage container fires in the preceding five years.

Ms. Roling asked if staff had done any research on how other cities were handling this issue. Mr. Rognstad said what the City has found is that the laws on this topic are all over the map.

Mr. Young asked about the current ordinance. Mr. Rognstad said containers are allowed in the GR and HC zoning districts. He described some of the provisions of the current ordinance, but noted that the ordinance was not being enforced due to the “administrative delay.”

Mr. Wheeler and staff discussed the logistics of handling this case’s public hearing.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing. There were no speakers, and so Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Lawhon made a motion to table “to a date uncertain” the agenda item titled Storage Trailers. Young seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

Mr. Wheeler appointed some Commission members to serve on a committee that would study the issue of storage containers.

6.  Chicken Ordinance                                    City of Springfield
     (City-Wide)

Mr. Hosmer stated that the purpose of the case was to allow households to keep six or fewer chickens within the city limits of Springfield. He read the following excerpts of the City’s staff report:

On March 8, 2010, City Council referred the issue of keeping chickens to the Plans and Policies Committee. Prior to the Plans and Policy Committee meeting, Staff conducted a public informational meeting on May 10, 2010, and invited a poultry specialist from the University of Missouri, Columbia Extension office for assistance.... The Plans and Policy Committee met on June 18, 2010. Based on input from the Planning and Development Department and Health Department, the committee voted 2 to 2 on this issue. The Health Department expressed concerns about potential health issues that can occur from human contact with chickens and poor maintenance practices. The Committee also voted to send this issue to the full City Council... City Council on July 26, 2010 voted 6-3 to initiate the amendment process.  

Mr. Hosmer said the keeping of a limited number of chickens was “a national trend that a lot of cities are doing as part of sustainability and having a look at their local food production.” He read the following sections of the staff report:

A number of issues with regard to raising chickens in the city have been identified, and the Health Department has expressed several health-related concerns. Based on the experiences of other communities that allow chickens, a small percentage of citizens will make the effort to keep chickens. Staff expects the number of citizens keeping chickens will be limited in Springfield as well. This means the risk of health issues may also be limited, but there will still be a risk. In addition, there should be few enforcement issues that will result from the limited number of citizens who will choose to keep chickens.
The proposed amendments do not require a fee for raising chickens. The City currently does not require a fee for keeping animals except for dangerous dog breeds. An annual fee would help offset the costs of enforcement of the proposed amendments, but the small number of people raising chickens will not generate many complaints or significant funds.

Mr. Hosmer said the amendment, if passed, would be evaluated after one year and possibly modified. He said there were two issues up for consideration: first, should chickens be allowed, and second, is the language of proposed ordinance sufficient.   He described some of the provisions of an ordinance that has been enacted by the city of Columbia, Mo. He said the Planning Department was recommending approval and the Health Department was recommending denial of the subject proposal.

Mr. Hansen referred to a memo he had received from Mr. Hosmer and asked about the “fowl complaints” mentioned in the memo. Mr. Hosmer said the complaints were usually simply about the presence of chickens on tracts of land less than twenty acres in size. Ms. Roling asked about enforcement. Mr. Hosmer said that various departments would be doing the enforcement. She asked if enforcement would require additional staffing. Mr. Hosmer said, “Not in the cities I contacted.” Mr. Lawhon asked about the “chicken tractor” and Mr. Hosmer described what it was. Mr. Lawhon asked whether enforcement would be “complaint driven.” Mr. Hosmer said yes, it would be. Mr. Lawhon asked why there was no proposal for a fee. Mr. Hosmer said staff felt that the income generated by a fee would be negligible and a fee might be perceived as being unfair because there were no fees imposed for keeping other animals. Mr. MacPherson added that the city was trying to keep costs minimal both for the City and for the citizens. Mr. Baird asked if Mr. Hosmer had any idea how many people might want to keep chickens. Mr. Hosmer said that, based on the research he had done, he did not expect many people to start keeping chickens as a result of this ordinance. Mr. Young asked if it might happen that people would want to start keeping other farm animals on their property. Mr. Hosmer said he had not seen any tendency, in other cities, for that to happen. Mr. Wheeler asked if subdivision covenants that prohibited the keeping of chickens would be overruled by the proposed ordinance. Mr. Hosmer said no, they would not be. Mr. Baird asked if the health departments of other cities were “on board” with their cities’ ordinances. Mr. Hosmer said that “some were, some were not.”

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.

Sandra Shepard, 1876 N. Jefferson, described her experiences with keeping chickens at her home. She said she was in favor of the proposal. 

Elizabeth Knaack, 2202 N. Howard, said had helped raised chickens when she lived in California. She described some of what she felt were the advantages of raising chickens.

Abdo Soliman, 540 E. Loren, said he thought people needed to learn to appreciate animals such as chickens more. He said he thought the health issues were manageable.

Arthur Hodge, Sr., 1723 N. Eldon, said he had seen various farm animals during his walks inside the city. He said, “It’s on.”

Joe Genowski, 9878 W. FR 56, said chickens are good for fertilizer and they have “educational benefits.” He said that, in his opinion, the kind of people who keep animals would not try to squeeze large animals onto small parcels of land. He said that by keeping chickens, you’re “creating a more sustainable and healthy environment.”

Galen Chadwick, 4139 S. Delaware, said that most Americans are eating “imported” food. He said it’s been estimated that 2.5 million pounds of food are trucked into Springfield every day. He said Springfield should strive to “re-localize” its food economy, and keeping chickens would be part of that process.

Allen Busiek, 1010 S. Munford Dr., said he was in favor of the proposal.
Howard Shane, 2855 E. Southern Hills Blvd., said he believed that allowing the keeping of chickens would enhance sustainability.

Shelly Bosheen, 651 W. Calhoun, said she thought that many of the people interested in raising chickens would have a “farm background,” and she thought there would not a population explosion of chickens.

Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. Lawhon said he was in favor of the proposal.

Mr. Young he was not in favor of keeping chickens inside the city.

Mr. Coltrin said he was in favor of the proposal.

Mr. Baird asked for someone to discuss the possibility of chickens causing odor and noise problems. Ms. Shepherd returned to the podium and said that if you keep their pen clean, the chickens’ pen will not smell.

Mr. Hosmer said he had not heard of other cities having problems with chicken odors. He said the noise hens make is comparable to that of a vacuum cleaner or a human conversation. He said ten chickens generate about the same amount of waste as a 40-pound dog.

Mr. Baird said he was concerned that people with little expertise in managing chickens might, due to the poor economy, be inclined to try to raise chickens and get in over their heads in the process. Mr. Hosmer said a local “urban 4-H group” had told him it would be willing to do educational outreach to persons interested in venturing into chicken raising.

Mr. Young asked if it were possible for people who decide that, on second thought, they don’t want to raise chickens, to take those chickens somewhere they would be cared for. Mr. Hosmer said that yes, there are farmers in the Springfield area who have indicated a willingness to take in such chickens.

Mr. Edwards said he thought that chickens might be neglected in certain instances, but the problem would not be any worse than what people experience already in dealing with irritating things their neighbors do. He said the sustainability movement was growing. He said he was in favor of the proposal.

Mr. McClelland said he was in favor of the proposal.

Mr. Hansen said he was impressed by the comments of the various speakers. He said he was in favor of the proposal.

Mr. Wheeler said he was comfortable with the proposal. He said the “ability to feed ourselves [is] quite a serious issue,” and he would support the proposal.

Mr. McClelland asked if the “revisitation in one year” needed “to be included in the motion.” Ms. Yendes said that the Commission would simply need to approve staff’s recommendation, which specifies that there should be a re-evaluation of the ordinance after one year. 

Edwards made a motion to approve the agenda item titled Chicken Ordinance. McClelland Coltrin seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: Young, Baird, Roling; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

(At this point, 8:25 p.m., the Commission took a recess, and Martin Gugel left the meeting.  The Commission resumed its meeting at approximately 8:35 p.m. )

CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT:

7.  Use Permit 390                                    Value Safe Storage, LLC
    (2015 W. Kingsley)

Mr. Macpherson said the purpose of this case was to allow a self-service storage facility to locate in a GR zoning district. He read the following excerpt from the City’s staff report, which describes the Use Permit process:

No conditional use permit shall be valid for a period longer than eighteen months from the date on which the City Council grants the conditional use permit, unless within such eighteen-month period: 

  1. A building permit is obtained and the erection or alteration of a structure is started; or
  2. An occupancy permit is obtained and the conditional use commenced. 

Mr. MacPherson said there were fourteen design requirements applicable to this case and the requirements were listed in Exhibit C. He said the subject site was located next to an extended-stay hotel and its architecture would be compatible with the hotel’s. He said the applicant would need to comply with several storm-water requirements in the course of developing the property. He said Traffic Engineering has said that the proposed use is not expected to generate much traffic. He said the proposal was acceptable to the fire department. He said the public notification process had not resulted in any negative comments being received by staff. He read the following comments from the City’s staff report:

  1. Staff has reviewed the applicant’s request for a Conditional Use Permit and has determined that it satisfies the standards for Conditional Use Permits, outlined in Section 3-3310 of the Zoning Ordinance. 
  2. Staff believes the self-service storage facilities use will generate lower traffic volume than most other uses permitted in the GR District. 
  3. The applicant has agreed to required design criteria similar to a previous conditional use permit for self-service storage facilities along West Kingsley. These design requirements are listed in Exhibit C and shown on Attachment 3.

Mr. Baird asked how a self-service storage facility would normally be zoned. Mr. MacPherson said that it would be HC, Highway Commercial. Mr. Baird asked if it wouldn’t be more appropriate to rezone the subject site to HC. Mr. MacPherson said that the surrounding parcels were zoned GR and the subject land use, self-service storage facility, was a permitted conditional use in the GR zoning district.

Mr. Wheeler asked if the applicant would be allowed to rent trucks at the site. He noted that Item 10 of the list given in Exhibit C seemed to rule out that possibility. Mr. MacPherson said that he had been told that morning that the plan was for the applicant to provide U-Haul trucks as part of the operation, but that he would defer to the applicant’s representative on this matter.

Mr. Baird asked whether there would be any outdoor storage on the site. Mr. MacPherson said, “No, that’s prohibited.”

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.

Larry Burns, 3060 S. Fremont, said he was representing the applicant. He said that, in addition to owning the subject site, the applicant also owns the hotel to the west of the site. He said that some employees of the Building Development Services department had told him that they felt that the rental of trucks to “clients of the self-storage facility would be an accessory use to the S-1 storage.” He said that fact was reflected in Item 1 of Exhibit C, embodied in the phrase “accessory uses to the self-service storage facility shall be permitted.”

In response to a comment from Mr. Baird, Mr. Burns agreed that the subject facility would be better-looking than most self-storage facilities.

Mr. Wheeler quoted from Attachment 4 of the City’s staff report, which states that “moving vehicle rental” will be permitted if the rental is to “clients of this self-service storage facility.” He said he thought the staff report was saying two different things depending on which attachment or exhibit list one read. Ms. Yendes said that “you get your accessory uses that go with those listed uses.” She said “you’re not really having any other uses than the storage unit.” Mr. Wheeler asked if the applicant would “be allowed to park trucks and trailers on his property to rent them out.” He noted that “there’s no outdoor storage allowed.” Ms. Yendes said, “These things may have to be stored inside. We would have to visit with BDS about what their interpretation of an outdoor activity is in GR.” Mr. Burns said, “Our client intends to only have about six or eight what you’d consider van-sized moving vehicles.... And, you know, we had talked about, you know, actually having these stored inside the building; but ... Chris and Rick said, ‘Don’t limit it; don’t even mention that in there.’” He said there would be trailers and large trucks that would use the facility from time to time. He said his client felt that “six or eight smaller van-size [vehicles] wouldn’t be anything different than what’s already coming into the facility.”

Mr. Hansen asked about the “grass swales.” Mr. Burns described those.

Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. Wheeler said he thought it was inconsistent to allow truck rental on the subject site while also requiring that the site meet tougher-than normal standards for esthetics. He said, “I don’t see a limited number of vehicles that can be parked on this property for rental, and I think, certainly, brightly colored trucks and trailers could certainly negate all of these things with the wrought-iron fencing and everything. So, if there are no restrictions on that, I will oppose this.”

Mr. Young talked about the parking requirements. He said he was concerned that rental vehicles might take up spaces intended to fulfill the quota for the required parking.

Mr. Wheeler said it would be possible, under the proposal, to park brightly colored rental trucks on the side of the subject lot adjacent to James River Freeway, which would hurt the site’s esthetics. Mr. Rognstad said, “Remember, the rental is supposed to be people who are using the units, so they’re not trying to attract people to rent the trucks.” Mr. Wheeler asked how that stipulation would be enforced. Mr. Rognstad conceded that the stipulation would be hard to enforce.

Mr. Hansen asked about the parking requirements for such a facility. Mr. Rognstad described the process. He said, “You would think that the market for the trailers and the trucks would be somewhat limited if they’re only supposed to be renting them to the people using the storage unit.”

Mr. McClelland said he thought that the rental trucks that would be on the site would be there “on a short-term basis.” Mr. Wheeler stated that he was a “worst-case scenario kind of guy” and he was concerned that the applicant might decide at a later date to expand the truck-rental part of the operation.

Lawhon made a motion to approve Use Permit 390. Edwards seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: Wheeler; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

STREET NAME CHANGE:

8.  Walnut Lawn                                    Springfield City Council
    (W. Walnut Lawn, 1000–1400 blocks)

Mr. MacPherson said this case was a request to change the name of the 1000 to1400 blocks of old Walnut Lawn Street, generally located between Westwood and Franklin Avenues, to Walnut Lawn Court. He then read the following excerpt from the City’s staff report:

This section of Walnut Lawn Street was realigned resulting in duplicate street names for new alignment as well as for this old segment of the street. On April 5, 2010, by Resolution #9773,  City Council initiated the process to rename this portion of old Walnut Lawn Street, generally between Westwood and Franklin Avenues, to Walnut Lawn Court.    

Mr. MacPherson said that staff expected that approval of the street name change would reduce confusion and thus reduce the response time of emergency responders. He said  one of the affected residents had contacted staff and suggested a different name from the one being proposed. He said the City’s position was that the proposed name was appropriate because the subject street dead-ends on both ends of the affected segment.

Mr. Wheeler asked how mail delivery would be handled. Mr. MacPherson said the City would notify the Post Office of the address changes and that there was no other “Walnut Lawn Court” in the city.

Mr. Lawhon asked for clarification of which street segments would be designated by which names, and Mr. MacPherson provided that information.

Mr. Hansen asked about the street configuration in the area of the subject street segment. Mr. MacPherson explained how the streets related to each other.

Mr. Wheeler opened the public hearing.
 
Larry Wolfe, 1414 W. Walnut Lawn, said he had retired from the Springfield fire department. He said, “The first thing you think of when you climb into a rig is, “OK now, was that Court or Street?” He also said that a panicked resident might not think to add “Court” to an address when contacting a 911 operator. He also said that the proposal would create “a lot of work for the residents,” who would need to change their addresses. Mr. Wheeler pointed out that, according to the City’s staff report, the current fire department and the E-911 department had not indicated they had a problem with changing the street name.

Don Caudill, 1406 W. Walnut Lawn, said he thought the proposed name change was “silly.” He said the fact that the residents of the subject street would be forced, under the proposal, to notify all their correspondents of their address change was “an aggravation that we don’t need.” He said he was strongly opposed to the name change proposal.

Mr. Wheeler closed the public hearing.

Mr. McClelland asked about the “Post Office’s position.” Mr. MacPherson said the Post Office does not take a position on such changes.

Mr. Wheeler asked if staff knew what had been the experience of residents who had, in the past, been affected by similar changes. Mr. Rognstad said he was not aware of anyone complaining to staff about not getting their mail after a street name change. 

Mr. Coltrin asked who initially had the idea that the name change was needed. Mr. MacPherson replied that the City’s GIS mapping people had brought the topic up.

Mr. Wheeler asked about the comments in the staff report. He asked if the fire department had made any more specific statements, such as, "This helps; this hurts; anything?” Mr. MacPherson said that the staff report contained all the comments Planning staff had received.

Mr. Wheeler asked whether E-911 was speaking for all emergency responders. Mr. Rognstad said, “They’re the ones that help the emergency responders find the locations.” He said the Commission could table the case and staff could ask the departments mentioned above to make more detailed responses.

Mr. Hansen made a motion to table this Street Name Change case. Mr. Baird said he would like to have someone from the affected departments deliver their comments to the Commission in person. Mr. Hansen made a motion to table the Street Name Case until such time as a representative or representatives of the fire department and E-911 could provide, in person, their departments’ viewpoints on the proposed name change. Mr. Baird seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Young, Roling, Baird, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: None; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.

OTHER BUSINESS:

9.  Initiate Form-Based-Code zoning district                                    City Staff
    (City-Wide)

Mr. Rognstad said that staff hoped tonight that the Commission would initiate this amendment to the zoning ordinance. The meeting tonight, he said, did not constitute a public hearing.

Mr. Young asked, “Where did this form-based code come from?” Mr. Rognstad said that this type of zoning “looks more at the form of the development, the design, than it does at the uses.”  He said it was often used in “downtown settings.” He said a developer would need to decide if he wanted to develop under the underlying zoning district or under this proposed district, which would be an overlay district. Mr. Young said he could see, under this proposal, a situation “not developing into the idea that is on the table.” He said he thought that ultimately the development downtown would not be “what was expected in the initial design.” Mr. Rognstad said that a lot of the area downtown is zoned industrial and so if a person wanted to do a mixed-use development in that area he would have to develop under the form-based code. He said the idea was “to create a more active public space,” and he said “you want the buildings up to the street.” Mr. Young and Mr. Rognstad discussed some possible design requirements under various form-based codes.

Mr. Coltrin asked what would happen to a person with property in the IDEA Commons area who did not want to develop under the form-based code. Mr. Rognstad said the person could, for instance, request a rezoning to the Center City zoning category.

Mr. Edwards asked, “Are you going to be able to put an overlay on property that you don’t own?” Mr. Rognstad said that the City can rezone anything, if the City has a rational reason for making the change.

Mr. Coltrin said he thought this situation contrasted with the one reviewed earlier tonight in which the City had allowed property owners to opt out of a zoning change. Mr. Rognstad said that the city didn’t legally have to allow them to opt out.

Mr. Baird asked who would decide whether a design was appropriate or not. Mr. Rognstad said the current thinking was that the Administrative Review Committee (ARC) would be the reviewing and the approving body. He said that the document being reviewed tonight was kind of a “bare bones part of how you create a district.” Each district, he said, would be unique. He said the ARC would “look at the form” and would not concern itself with things like the color of paint.

Mr. Young said he was worried that the first developers into an area would get “the pick of the litter and get to do what they want” but the late-comers would be constrained in what they could do. Mr. Rognstad said that usually the regulation would say something like, “a certain percentage of the frontage has to be building; the building has to be built right up to the street; the first floor has to be, say, at least twelve feet high but not more than twenty feet high.” Mr. Young said he thought that what he was reading implied that “somebody could deny it because the form [of the building] is not to their liking.” Mr. Rognstad said that once this case was initiated, the Commission would be seeing more specific examples of the code. Mr. Young asked if there would be a governing body, similar to the Landmarks Board, involved. Mr. Rognstad said that the review process would be streamlined and there would be no organization such as the Landmarks Board doing reviews. He said the community needed to decide whether design was important on the public side as well as on the private side of development.

Mr. Edwards said he thought the proposal might not allow developers to have sufficient flexibility.

Mr. Baird asked why there seemed to be an extra step involved in reviewing this case. Mr. Rognstad said it was because Planning staff could not initiate a case itself.  

Hansen made a motion to initiate “the zoning text amendment: FBC, Form-Based Code Overlay District.”  Lawhon seconded the motion. Motion carried as follows: AYES: Wheeler, Coltrin, Roling, Hansen, McClelland, Edwards, Lawhon; NAYS: Young, Baird; ABSTAIN: None; ABSENT: None.    

ANY OTHER MATTERS UNDER COMMISSON JURISDICTION:

There being no other items of discussion, Mr. Wheeler adjourned the meeting at approximately 10:33 p.m.

 

 

 


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