A zoning issue that has had city and county officials butting heads for the past two months came a step closer to a resolution Monday night.
Members of the Clay County Planning Commission and the City of Vermillion's Planning & Zoning Commission met Monday night in the Jack Powell Conference Room in City Hall.
No action could be taken at the meeting because public notice wasn't advertised in time, but the two commissions made progress as they discussed the next steps needed to resolve a zoning issue.
Monday’s meeting centered on Kevin Myron’s attempt, which began last November, to rezone his grain elevator, Ag Opportunities, located at 1919 W. Cherry Street, from A-1 Agricultural District to HI: Heavy Industrial District.
After members of both planning commissions failed to come to an agreement during a Nov. 16 joint meeting over a rezoning request, the issue moved to the Dec. 6 meeting of the Vermillion City Council, where it also failed.
The next step for the rezoning application was the Dec. 7 meeting of the Clay County Commission. Myron withdrew his rezoning application at that meeting.
Even though the two planning commissions could take no formal action Monday, they did discuss steps that could be taken in the future to help Myron receive zoning that is appropriate for his business.
Myron, who is interested in selling Ag Opportunities, discovered that the property his business is sitting on was rezoned improperly approximately a decade ago, from LI Light Industrial to its current A-1 Agricultural District zoning.
He sought to have the property rezoned to HI: Heavy Industrial District. The county supported his rezoning application; the city opposed it, indicating at the November meeting that rezoning the area into a HI: Heavy Industrial district will offer too many possibilities for development that will not be compatible with the existing neighboring residential uses.
The city instead suggested at that time that the property be rezoned to LI: Light Industrial and that needed changes to zoning regulations be considered, including a review of a Joint Jurisdictional Zoning Agreement made between the city and the county several years ago.
Last night’s talk between planning commission members from both the county and the city indicated that such an approach likely will be discussed at a joint meeting scheduled next month in which action could be taken.
City Engineer Jose Dominguez noted that even though Myron had withdrawn his HI: Heavy Industrial zoning application, the county and the city were willing to consider amendments to the zoning ordinance to allow existing use in the LI: Light Industrial district and to consider rezoning Myron’s property into the LI district.
Dominguez said Myron’s property was zoned to Light Industrial prior to the 2012 adoption of the JJZA (Joint Jurisdictional Zoning Agreement) by the city and the county.
An amendment to present zoning regulations proposed by city staff that could be considered at the next formal joint meeting of the two planning commissions would include grain terminal, grain processing and agribusiness as conditional uses in Light Industrial districts.
Staff is also proposing that all land owned by the Vermillion Fertilizer and Grain Elevator Company, or Ag Ops, be rezoned from A-1 to LI Light Industrial.
“The proposed uses would be similar to those that were allowed at that parcel prior to the 2012 adoption of the JJZA,” Dominguez said.
Another rule change being proposed would affect the A-1 Agricultural district that would allow telecommunications towers as a conditional use on property zoned A-1.
“Staff believes that exclusion of this use from the district in the original adoption of the JJZA was an error,” he said, “since another similar use is already found in the chapter, that being broadcast tower.”
Dominguez assured a homeowner who lives on the bluff above the Ag Opportunities business that a telecommunications tower is not planned for that property.
“Regarding compliance with the comprehensive plan adopted by the city and the county for the JJZA – the plan has a few items that affect decisions made within the JJZA,” he said, identifying another area that may need further review from both planning commissions. “The largest hurdle would be the fact that the future land use map shows an area along the bypass as commercial use and residential use is everywhere else.
“Additionally, the comprehensive plan also states, and I quote, ‘Rezoning requests and other development proposals for land use that’s not consistent with the land use map except for those previously established as group planned uses should not be considered until the comprehensive plan has been amended, if necessary, to provide such land uses.’ City staff believes that in this instance, the use was established. The grain elevator had been in existence since the late ‘60s and any approved land use within the rezone would be consistent with the previous zoning prior to the 2012 adoption of the JJZA.”
The process for adoption of the proposed zoning amendments that Dominguez suggested Monday will require that they be considered at a joint public hearing with the county and the city planning commissions sometime in the future. After this meeting, the recommendations made would be taken to the city council and the county commission.
Those two governing bodies would conduct two meetings; the first meeting would be held separately and the second would be held jointly.
“The joint meeting between the governing bodies will need to occur regardless of the results of the first meetings,” Dominguez said.