City comprehensive plan delayed by zoning questions

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

McCOOK, Nebraska -- A tug-of-war over zoning of property bordering Drive 716 has begun between the McCook Planning Commission and several business developers.

As a result, a comprehensive plan that will provide the foundation for future zoning and subdivision ordinances was tabled by the McCook City Council on Monday.

The contested area covers roughly a square mile of land west of U.S. Highway 83, near Orscheln Farm and Home and the McCook Public Power District office.

The council is expected to reconsider the comprehensive plan Oct. 7 as it ponders changes that could hinder business or residential growth in the area.

The area was described as a "hot spot" for business development by local engineer Gary Dicenta and property owner Allan Bishop during Monday's meeting. McCook Economic Development Director Rex Nelson agreed with Dicenta and Bishop, saying there appeared to be opportunities for small business in the area.

The comments were not the first from owners of property bordering Drive 716 who had their sights set on business development. In August, Dick Cappel told the council he owned property south of Drive 716 and represented himself and three land owners he had sold lots too, "some of which are building businesses next year."

In recent months, the Planning Commission has recommended special exceptions for several businesses in that area, but Dicenta said Monday that commission was sending signals that would no longer be the case.

Dicenta asked councilors to amend the Planning Commission's proposed Comprehensive Plan so that the property neighboring Drive 716 would have a future land use of light industrial and accompanying zoning.

The shift would allow prospective business developments to avoid requesting an exception, but would also require they follow ordinance and zoning actually drafted to manage industrial development.

Councilors subsequently tabled the comprehensive plan until their October meeting, allowing more time for study of the differences between light industrial and the current agricultural zoning.

Ag zones have a minimum lot requirement of five acres and residential dwellings are to be individual mobile homes or single-family farm or ranch dwellings. In a light industrial district, only existing single-family homes are permitted and the minimum lot requirement is 10,000 square feet.

Council members expressed concern Monday that changing the future land use to light industrial may allow businesses such as a recently-rejected truck wash operation to proceed.

Light industrial districts require all operations be carried on within an enclosed building and only inorganic material may be stored in containers not in a building, in addition to businesses being prohibited from emitting obnoxious odors. Agricultural districts do no have such enclosure and odor restrictions, which would indicate the agricultural district designation would have been more suited for the truck wash operation than the proposed light industrial.

Bishop said during Monday's meeting that he was aware of one business that recently relocated to Culbertson after being turned down by the planning commission. The comment prompted one councilor offer a reminder that the planning commission did not have the final say when it came to special exceptions.

Dicenta replied that most were under the impression that the city council will follow the planning commission's recommendation and did not want to spend the time going through another public hearing with city council only to be denied a second time.

The comp plan was drafted by drafted by community planning firm Hanna:Keelan Associates after performing an in-depth community analysis and receiving input from the McCook Planning Commission and a committee appointed by Mayor Dennis Berry.

Councilors will juggle a difficult decision, considering the community analysis performed during the process of drafting the proposed Comprehensive Plan indicated McCook needed to address both a critical housing issue and remove deterrents impeding local business development.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: