Zoning code rewrite debated by Council

HARRINGTON — The upcoming zoning code rewrite was a topic of debate at Monday’s Harrington City Council Workshop after Mayor Anthony Moyer asked for an update.

“I’m getting a little concerned with this [code] 440 deal,” he said, citing canceled meetings and a lack of public input. “Not knowing what’s going on makes people uncomfortable. All I know is the original scope has gone to the wayside.”

City Planner Debbie Pfeil acknowledged a problem with the scope of the project, saying, “The original scope was that this is normally an expensive project. Harrington’s paid one-third of that. So we had to change the scope.”

City Manager Terry Tieman mentioned a personal illness and the death of a family member as contributing factors to delays in the process, but said she believed the meetings will be completed by the end of January with a draft of the rewrite available for public input by the end of February.

Some parts of the zoning code haven’t been updated since rewrites in both 1991 and 2008, according to City Solicitor William Pepper, such as those relating to mobile homes in City limits although he said it would all be fixed during the zoning code rewrite to allow for mobile homes.

“The three parks we have aren’t zoned for mobile homes, but then we annexed mobile home parks to be installed. They’re actually zoned Residential-1 which doesn’t allow for mobile homes,” he said. “In the 1991 code, it looked like they closed it and they can’t move anyone in.”

Article VIII under zoning code chapter 440 adds, “This article was formerly designated ‘Mobile home park zone – IMP.’ IMP was deleted by the Planning Commission in 1991. Mobile homes, as defined in 440-5 are no longer permitted within the City limits of Harrington.”

“My fear here is actually how many mobile homes were placed there after this and what is our liability,” Mr. Moyer said. “The definition in the Code really needs to have a caveat like ‘except in mobile home parks.’”

Vice Mayor Cheryl Lahman, speaking in reference to the mobile home ordinance set in motion to seek registration fees instead of taxes, said, “It’s been allowed to exist for 24 years. What’s not right is that all the other residents are paying their damn taxes.”

If passed, the ordinance would give responsibility to the park owners to ensure homes coming in or out of their parks are registered properly with the City or face fines of their own.

In a special meeting held on the same night, the City Council approved a two percent increase in City employee salaries by a 4-2 vote which included a ‘yes’ vote by Ms. Layman whose husband works for the public works department.

City Council members also approved a preliminary subdivision review for The Legacy, formally known as Fox Meadow Estates, although those in attendance felt the project would not continue much past the review stage.

“In 15 years as a planner, I’ve never seen a subdivision this large,” Ms. Pfeil said. “A lot of money needs to be seen for bonding and such, I just don’t see it happening.”

After public hearings, they approved an ordinance to change the hourly rate for public works employees and sewer charges to reflect full benefits needed and another to remove the rate classification for in-City sewer users with individual meters as that is no longer relevant due to recent changes.

The next meeting will be on Tues. Jan. 20 at 7 p.m.

 

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