The Pacific Board of Aldermen voted to pass four ordianances at its Tuesday, Aug. 6, meeting, albeit without a little controversy.
Three bills passed with relative ease.
Bill No. 4059, which terminates the existence of the Viaduct Commercial Area Community Improvement District, passed. The city will no longer collect any sales tax imposed in the area for community improvement.
Bill No. 4060 passed as well. It will vacate an alley situated near a final plat for a subdivision at North Second and West Park streets.
Robert Nicolay of Eureka has acquired six substandard lots in the original T.M. Ault’s subdivision that he wants to combine into a single and subdivide the single lot horizontally to create two building lots.
That led into Bill No. 4058, which will allow for the T.M. Ault subdivision to be considered an “R1-A” single-family district. It also passed.
Then there was Bill No. 4065, which provided some heated debate.
Bills must be read and voted on twice. If a bill is voted on by the aldermen during it’s first reading, it will have a second reading at the next board meeting.
If passed after the second reading, the bill is approved and becomes an ordinance. However, aldermen have the power to vote for a second reading at the same meeting.
They must motion and vote to have the second reading. That was the case with Bill No. 4065. It would allow for a proposed warehouse at 2244 Rose Lane to be used for storage of lumber and other building materials for a local furniture manufacturer.
The property is zoned M-1 light industrial and warehousing is a permitted use. Surrounding property is currently zoned M-1 to the north, east and west, and residential zoning to the south.
William Gratzer, the builder, was the applicant seeking the zone change. Andrew Black is the owner of Ezekiel & Stearns, a furniture manufacturer that designs and builds farm tables, benches and organization systems.
Gratzer made the appeal to move forward with the bill during public comments at the aldermen meeting.
Aldermen voted and agreed to have a second reading. That’s when Alderwoman Carol Johnson brought up her concern.
Trudy Nickelson, Designs of Ambiance, LLC, recently purchased the Uncle Willie Morrill house at 415 W. St. Louis St. She wants to host small events, such as showers, after-funeral luncheons and even small weddings on the first floor.
Nickelon’s bill had its first reading earlier in the meeting. Johnson said she would have recommended that Nickelson ask for a second reading at the same meeting during public comments had she known that aldermen possessed the power to sponsor a second reading at the same meeting. She had told Nickelson to wait for the next meeting.
“In all fairness, I should have asked for that sponsorship,” Johnson said.
“You’re in your rights to do so,” Mayor Steve Myers said.
This turned second readings into a debate among the aldermen that lasted nearly 15 minutes.
“I think this is where it goes back, we’re now in a debate on who’s worthy of a second reading. This is, and maybe I should have stood my ground a minute ago, but didn’t do enough and voted ‘yes,’ ” Alderman Andrew Nemeth told board members, after voting for a second reading of Bill No. 4065.
“I probably should have voted, ‘no,’ however this is the debate we’re going to get into. That’s why we either do it or we don’t. Now it’s going to turn into this debate at every meeting of who get’s it and who doesn’t,” he said.
The debate became about whether the aldermen should keep the power to give a bill a second reading at the same meeting.
“I think every subject has to sit on its own merit, and this idea for treating everyone alike, ‘what you do for one, you have do for another,’ ” Alderman Herb Adams said. “I don’t think that carries any weight. I am one who strongly objects to two readings in one night.”
Adams voted against Bill No. 4065, the lone ‘nay’ vote. The bill passed 5-1.
Johnson did say it would be unfair to vote against the bill just because she thought Nickelson’s bill was treated unfairly.
City Zoning Officer Anna Hodge brought up a difference between Gratzer’s bill and Nickelson’s bill.
“If you look at unfinished business, Bill A, it’s about the planned unit regulations for the city of Pacific,” Hodge said. “If those changes were to made it, this project wouldn’t have even gone through this in the first place.”
Hodge said she recommended that Grazter ask for the second reading because had the planned unit regulations (PUD) been updated, he wouldn’t have had to go through as much red tape.
The bill Hodge referred to is Bill No. 4011, which passed.
PUDs encourage mixed use, create a variety of housing, promote flexibility in placement of buildings and encourage large scale well-planned development. A PUD gives aldermen the authority to approve a range of variances for developments that do not fit the strict rules of the zoning codes.
Under current rules, all subdivisions and any new commercial development must apply for and be classified a PUD zoning district, this includes developments in the C-1, C-2, M-1 and M-2 zoning districts.
Under a code amendment that was proposed by short-term zoning officer Shawn Seymour, the stipulation that makes PUD zoning a requirement in a wide range of developments would be eliminated.
Now that the bill passed, a developer would have the option to seek PUD classification.
Johnson did try later in the meeting to make a motion for a second reading of Nickelson’s bill. I failed, and will now get a second reading at the next board meeting Tuesday, Aug. 20.