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Residents want less regulation on utility buildings

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, April 21, 2012

Three residents voiced their concerns about overregulation and limitations of zoning ordinances during a public hearing at Tuesday’s Runaway Bay City Council meeting.

At the request of the planning and zoning commission, the council entertained a motion to add the stipulation “floor area, inside measurement, shall not exceed 400 square feet” be added to an ordinance on utility buildings.

However, it was tabled after residents complained they were confused about the number of ordinances and to what they applied. They also feared the 400-square-feet restriction would not be enough space.

Members of the council emphasized the specific ordinance being presented focused on utility buildings only and that there are other building options available.

“The size was put there to accommodate the people that have to make the decision whether or not to approve the permit request,” Mayor Robert Ryan said. “There is a provision. This stipulation has strictly to do with the description of a utility building.”

Parker added: “There are permits for workshops. That’s different from a utility building.”

But Councilman Dan Ticer pointed out that the description of a utility building in the code includes recreational equipment.

“That includes bicycles, golf carts, four-wheelers and boats,” he said. “You can’t fit all of that – and some people do have all of that – in a 20×20 space.”

He further argued that the ordinance was confusing with its many variations and options.

“A building is a building, so having water or not having water should not differentiate a building or what you do with it,” he said. “We need to have one item for outbuildings, and then we can say – if we have to do this masonry, brick – if it’s over certain square feet than it has to be 55 percent brick. People wouldn’t be confused if we simplified this down to one paragraph. I know this has been a problem – people don’t understand the difference. We need to clarify the whole thing up.”

The council is to meet with the planning and zoning commission to discuss the issue.

The council also named Oneta Berghoefer and Rex Richie interim city administrator and police chief/director of public safety, respectively, for “as long as necessary.”

“And that’s a very open-ended statement,” Ryan added.

Berghoefer is the city secretary, and Richie is a patrol sergeant for the city. They replace former city administrator Greg Leveling, who was fired in March, and former police chief Drew Paschall, who resigned in February.

In other news, the council:

  • set a fee of $3 per person per day at the city pool;
  • approved a sign application submitted by Mark Heng, Shell Station owner.
  • recognized outgoing planning and zoning member Melissa Bennett; and
  • announced vacancies on city boards and commissions – three on the planning and zoning commission, two on the cemetery board; two on the parks and recreation board; and three on the Economic Development Corp. Anyone interested in serving should call City Secretary Oneta Berghoefer at (940) 575-4745.

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