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City P&Z To Review Zoning Ordinance

By Staff | May 12, 2011

The topic of single family residential homes located in areas zoned commercial came before Emmetsburg City Council Monday night. The situation came to light when realtors were closing on the sale of a house on Lake Street.

Jack Nolan, area realtor and owner of a home in an affected area, requested that the city consider rezoning the area between Palmer and Lake Street to accommodate single family residential as a permitted use.

“We were having a question with a lender concerning zoning,”?Nolan told the council, and why the area was zoned as it was.”

Nolan said that the area where his home is located is zoned commercial (C1). He asked the council when and why the area was zoned C1. Nolan noted that City Administrator John Bird said it was zoned C1 in 1993.

The Nolan home was built in 1915. Now that there is more scrutiny in home mortgaging, Nolan expressed concern about the zoning.

City Comptroller Jill Kliegl said there was recodification in 1993, but she did not know how or why that affected the zoning.

“I have a concern for anyone who has a residential home in C1,” said Nolan.

He asked the council to look at the worst case scenario. If a tornado occurred, would anyone with a single family residence in a C1 zoned area be able to rebuild? Emmetsburg City Code on nonconforming uses of structures and land, the code states: “Where a lawful use of a structure, or of a structure and land in combination exists at the effective date of adoption or amendment hereof that would not be permitted in the district under the terms of this Zoning Ordinance, the lawful use may be continued so long as it remains otherwise lawful, subject to…” several provisions, including:?”No existing structure devoted to a use not permitted by this Zoning Ordinance in the district in which it is located shall be enlarged, extended, constructed, reconstructed, moved or structurally altered except in changing the use of the structure to a use permitted in the district in which it is located.”

Nolan noted there are several areas in the community that are zoned C1 with single family residential homes.

“My personal opinion, it would be business as usual,” said Councilman Brian Campbell, indicating that if a home in C1 was destroyed by a tornado, it would be appropriate to re-build a single family home.

“Can we set a timeline tonight, or set a rezoning hearing?”?asked Councilman Sandy Pelzer.

Councilman Brian Malm said he wanted Planning and Zoning to review the zoning. He said there may be a good reason that the area is zoned C1.

Campbell saw the need to look at that area (the area between Palmer and Lake Streets) and other residential areas zoned C1.

The issue was remanded to Planning and Zoning.

In other business, the City Council set a public hearing for May 23 to consider revoking a building permit granted to Dr. David Kundel due to the structure not built according to submitted plans.

Frank Kliegl, city building inspector, told the council that the original building permit talked about putting up an awning with a fire escape on top of the awning and stairs going down to the alley. He said the structure is not considered a fire escape right now.

City Attorney Brian Thul pointed out that the building permit is no longer valid. The permit was issued in April 2009 and is good for one year.