BF approves new zoning ordinance

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It took close to two hours, but the village of Bosque Farms councilors hammered out and approved amendments to their comprehensive zoning ordinance last Thursday evening.

After hearing rumors of businesses interested in coming to the village that might bring an undesirable element, the council placed a moratorium on new business registrations and asked the planning and zoning commission to revamp the ordinance.

The end result was amendments that established a class of regulated businesses according to type and specifying distances those businesses could be from residential areas and other like businesses.

The amended ordinance will take effect on Wednesday, Aug. 15, and the moratorium on new businesses licenses in the village's commercial zone along Bosque Farms Boulevard will be lifted as of Aug. 16.

Under the amended ordinance, Class I regulated businesses are adult entertainment establishments, body art/modification establishments, smoke shops, check cashing/pay day loan establishments, bail bonds establishments, pawn brokers, fortune tellers and metal intake/recycling centers.

The original amendments to the ordinance established a Class II category and included mobile home and motor vehicle sales lots and metal intake/recycling centers.

After much discussion, councilors decided to move the regulations for motor vehicle and mobile home sales lots back into their previous placement in the ordinance and move the metal intake/recycling centers into Class I.

One issue the planning and zoning commissioners, councilors and members of the public struggled with during the development of the ordinance amendments, was the use of the word "Skid Row" to describe what the changes were trying to prevent.

The purpose of the so called "anti-Skid Row" regulations was to prevent a high density of regulated businesses from being established along the boulevard.

"It's a very negative word for such a positive community," said village resident Lee Wharton.

The council decided to simply use the term "regulated business requirements," but leave the term "anti-Skid Row" in place in the definition to indicate that the purpose of the regulations was "to avoid a high density area, or Skid Row effect."

Councilor Russ Walkup raised the issue of a change to the permissive use of the commercial zone. During the amendments, Planning and Zoning Commissioner Sharon Eastman asked that a prohibition be made against secondhand dealers displaying merchandise outside the building.

"I think that should be struck," Walkup said. "This only applies to used. We allow others, such as Hacienda and Tractor Supply, to display things outside their buildings."

Mayor Bob Knowlton asked if a secondhand dealer was a Class I or II business, and Walkup said they weren't.

"They aren't considered a regulated business," he said. "This was added to permissive uses."

Councilor Wayne Ake said he was under the impression that during Monday's workshop, the council had agreed secondhand merchandise could be displayed outside the store, but not in the public right of way.

"The problem is, we know they will keep things out during the week when our planning and zoning officer is on duty, but come the weekend, it starts to creep out," said Councilor Dolly Wallace. "I would like to see something put in here that fines them on their second violation. This has been terribly abused."

The councilors agreed to remove the prohibition on secondhand dealers for outside display and asked the planning and zoning commission to address the right-of-way issue at a later time.

Because of the extra monitoring by the planning and zoning officer of the regulated businesses, the council decided to impose an annual fee of $1,000 on them.

When looking at the best way to limit the density of certain businesses, the planning and zoning commission found that other ordinances addressed the issue by limiting how close they could be to each other.

The initial amendment prohibited regulated businesses from being located within a 300 foot radius of any property zoned residential or agricultural-residential.

Knowlton said he was concerned because, "pretty much all along the boulevard the commercial zone is adjacent to residential and agricultural zoning. I think one way to interpret this is we could never have any regulated business along the boulevard because they are always going to be within that 300 foot radius."

The mayor said Planning and Zoning Officer Loretta Hatch recommended alternative language that called for regulated businesses to have a 300 foot setback from any residential dwelling.

"I think that is a little more specific and makes if more clear what our intent is," Knowlton said.

Councilor Bill Kennedy pointed out that in some areas, there are dwellings "backed right up against the property line," making it impossible to put the business 300 feet away on some of the shallower commercial lots.

Eastman said it was the commission's intent to keep the regulated businesses away from dwellings, not necessarily the lot line.

"We know in the northern area the commercial lots are very shallow with mobile homes and houses very close to the property line," Eastman said. "We thought these kinds of businesses shouldn't be close to a home."

Fellow commissioner, Karen McAda, said part of the intent was to push businesses to the southern part of the boulevard.

"Some of those northern lots are only maybe 300 feet deep," McAda said. "We felt these types of businesses that close would really be hurting property values."

Virgil Proctor, former village councilor and commercial property owner, said he didn't like his property "lumped in like this."

Proctor owns the property where RJ Automotive is located.

In regards to stipulating distances between certain types of businesses, Proctor said he could see a problem in the future.

"Once a lot is closed or sold, it's in noncompliance. If the intent of village is to shut us down, you're doing it. I hope that's not the case," Proctor said. "I feel like you've thrown us in with Class Is."

Proctor said using the 300 foot distance would put several businesses into potential noncompliance if they ever wanted to utilize their ability to sell motor vehicles or recreational vehicles.

"I don't know if you thought this through," he said. "I'm in violation if anything changes."

The mayor and council agreed and emphasized that the intent of the distance requirements, or any of the amendments, wasn't to force people out of business, but to be able to regulate future businesses coming into the village.

With the decision to move metal intake/recycling centers into Class I, making the yet-to-be-constructed Wise Recycling the only existing Class I in the village, the councilors said the business would be subject to the conditions previously set out by the planning and zoning commission, not the new regulated business requirements.

The business will have to come into compliance with the administrative fees for Class I businesses when it renews its business license. The council had discussed having a "sunset clause" for any existing businesses to come into compliance with the new requirements, but decided it would be impractical.

"My problem with sunsetting this is, what if on residential another council said we want 100 feet setback and you have three years to move your house," Ake said. "You just can't do it."

Eastman pointed out that the village's zoning ordinances, across the board, allowed for nonconformities.

"The intent is to allow the nonconformities to continue until they are removed," Eastman said. "They are not allowed to expand beyond a certain point, reconstruct beyond a certain point and if the use stops for 90 days, they're out."

The councilors decided that regulated businesses could not be within 1,000 feet of each other along Bosque Farms Boulevard; not within a 1,000 foot radius from a school property line, a state-licensed child care centers and/or family day care facilities or youth frequented locations including, such as religious institutions, public libraries, public parks and bowling alleys.

And instead of a 300 foot radius, regulated businesses shall have a 300 foot setback from any business structure, including accessory structures and any dwelling unit located on any lot zoned conventional and mixed single-family residential, and agricultural/residential.

The amendments to the zoning ordinance passed unanimously.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.