Planning Commission denies Streich zoning change
• Mayor explains general plan for zoning
December 5, 2021
With the city in the midst of strategic planning for zoning, it has been difficult for the Alva Planning Commission members to make decisions on requests for zoning changes. Monday night four members of the commission considered a revised request from Tom Streich to change the zoning of his property at1020 4th Street from residential RG8 to commercial general (CG).
Present for the meeting were Chairman Christie Kornele and members Charles Murrow, Mary Hamilton and Mark Nichols. Matt Adair and Tyler Crawford were absent. Also at the meeting was Adam Grimsley, the new Alva code enforcement officer; Alva Fire Chief Bryan Miller, Mayor Kelly Parker and City Business Manager Angelica Brady.
Before considering the zoning change, commission members heard the code enforcement officer report. Grimsley said he has been busy reviewing plans for the Vanilla Bean, a restaurant that recently opened at 4th and Oklahoma Boulevard. He has also handled a number of permits and a few "neighbor disputes."
Mayor Parker gave a city council report, mainly updating the commission on zoning task force plans. He said he met with Brady and Randy Stelling to put the task force work into a summary plan.
The plan would zone any property located within a half block of Oklahoma Boulevard as commercial general (CG). This would also be applied to commercial areas along US-281 south and north.
Several residential lots have less than 8,000 sq. ft. but are zoned RG8. Under zoning laws, it would be impossible to build on those. They will be changed to RG6. The commercial neighborhood zoning would be changed to commercial general or residential depending on how the property is being used currently.
The city is also looking at expanding the city limits to bring in some adjacent land, mostly being used for agriculture. Parker said these areas would be zoned agriculture until the purpose changes.
Legal counsel pointed out all of these zoning changes will require a lot of notices being sent out, legal publications and hearings. That will take a lot of time, but the planning commission needs guidance now.
Parker said the plan is to put together a general zoning plan to reflect the city's intentions and present it to Planning Commission for approval. It would then go to the Alva City Council for final approval.
That will provide guidelines for zoning changes while the city deals with the individual lot zoning changes needed.
Streich Zoning Change
Miller, who has been filling in as code enforcement officer, said Streich wanted to be at the meeting but had a scheduling conflict. He wrote a statement which Miller read to the commission.
Previously Streich applied for a change from residential to commercial neighborhood (CN) zoning. The Planning Commission passed the decision on to the Alva City Council. At the council meeting, Miller said he learned the CN designation applied only to neighborhood groceries so he gave Streich the wrong advice. The council took no action, and it was agreed Streich could reapply for the correct zoning change without paying another $150 fee.
Streich wants the zoning change so he can construct a 30 x 50 ft. building at the back of his property on the alley. He restores vehicles at his rented shop on Oklahoma Boulevard, but he doesn't have enough room to keep all those vehicles inside. He is currently renting several carports to protect the vehicles. The proposed building would allow him to store the vehicles and cut down his expenses.
Streich also provided Miller with signatures of neighbors who agreed with the zoning change. He said all but one of the neighboring property owners agreed with the change. That rental property, adjoining his on the north, was already zoned commercial.
Parker asked to look at the list on Miller's electronic tablet. He contacted one of the neighbors by phone to ask if she knew about the planned large building. Lorraine Case said she did not and she would not have signed had she known.
Parker reminded the commission that the use of the property could change with subsequent owners if it is changed to commercial zoning. There's no guarantee it would remain a storage building.
There was also discussion about lot coverage. There are different rules for commercial and residential. For instance, residential propery requires no building within five feet of the property line. In commercial zones, buildings may be located against the property line. If Streich's property is not rezoned, there probably would not be enough space to build that size of building due to restrictions in the amount of the lot that can be covered.
Halah Simon, who along with her husband owns the property next to Streich's, attended the meeting. She cited numerous objections. Her propery, zoned commercial, is the only one where Streich could build right up to the property line. She said the alley is very narrow and already experiencing congestion with the opening of the Vanilla Bean. She also believes the proposed large building would interfere with the view and decrease the value of her property.
After the presentations and a few questions, there was silence as commission members considered the request. Kornele called for a motion. Murrow made a motion to allow the zoning change from residential to commerical general. There was a wait, but no second was forthcoming.
Then Nichols made a motion to deny the zoning change, seconded by Hamilton. Nichols, Hamilton and Kornele voted for the motion while Murrow voted against it for a 3-1 passage.
It was noted that Streich can still go before the Board of Adjustments to request a variance. That board can allow a change in the percentage of the lot coverage allowed although they cannot change the zoning.
A video of the meeting may be viewed at http://www.AlvaReviewCourier.com.