Members of the Pacific Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) were caught off guard by new procedures instituted by the building commissioner, city administrator and city attorney that appear to sidestep P&Z action.

A pair of applications presented to the commission June 26 illustrated the scope of the new procedures.

P&Z will no longer hear applications for annexation and hold public hearings on zone change applications. Both are practices that have previously followed by the city.

Building Commissioner Shawn Seymore explained the new procedures, citing state statute and the advice of the city attorney.

Seymore asked P&Z to rezone a parcel of land located east of the Eastern Missouri Correctional Facility that had been annexed into the city without the commissioners’ knowledge.

The city of Pacific asked to rezone the 11.7-acre parcel at 18637 Highway 66 from Eureka zoning PC planned commercial district to Pacific zoning M2 heavy industrial district.

This parcel was annexed into the city June 19 through a change of jurisdiction, rather than voluntary annexation.

“How can they annex without coming to P&Z?” Commissioner Mike Bates asked.

“There is a state statute that does not require annexation to come to P&Z,” Seymore said.

Commissioner Gene Miles questioned the location of the site, which is located east of two parcels that will remain outside the city.

“There are two properties in between the prison and this property,” Miles said.

Seymore noted that the site that was annexed abuts land owned by the Eastern Missouri Correctional Facility, making it contiguous to the city.

A primary consideration in the annexation was the availability of utilities, according to City Administrator Steve Roth.

“The availability of utilities was the driving force in this,” Roth said. “The city has sewer lines to the prison now and plan to extend water all the way to the Eureka Fire Protection District. If this acquisition goes through we could extend water and sewer to the property at that time.”

Commissioner Jim Smith asked where the city would get water for the site.

“Do we have enough water?” Smith asked.

“Yes,” Roth said. “We’re installing a 12-inch main from the Red Cedar to ADB Companies.”

The city was the petitioner on this zone change, Seymore said.

Commissioners also were baffled that the city was the petitioner in the zone change request, not the property owner.

Commissioner Mike Bates said the city’s involvement in the zone change is unusual.

“It’s a big change from planned commercial to heavy industrial,” he said.

Seymore said he thought M2 was the right zoning district based on land uses in the area of the site.

Bates also asked who would pay the application fees on the zone.

“So the city does not receive the $250 application fee?” Bates asked.

“Yes,” Seymore said. “But the owner will have to get a PUD for his development and the city will collect fees for that.”

West Contracting wants to construct a 4,000- to 6,000-square-foot building on the site for an office, shop and storage for material and equipment, according to David VanLeer, Cochran Engineering.

At the same meeting, Seymore requested a zone change for a parcel that is not yet annexed into the city, with no public hearing.

The lack of a public hearing on this request prevented residents of Hill View Drive from knowing in advance that the property had changed owners and would also change uses. (See separate story.)