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City council passes zoning regulations

Changes for wind turbines, child care centers, paint color regulations

August 28, 2012
By DAVID ALEXANDER - Staff Writer ( , Times-Republican

Zoning regulations were again the topic of the Marshalltown City Council meeting Monday night.

The council approved readings of several ordinance changes as well as a first reading of a proposed amendment to the city code on back and side yard parking, which was previously tabled.

Third readings passed on changes that would allow child care facilities to exist in commercial zones and industrial zones, allow the Site Plan Review Board to have jurisdiction over changes to paint color in the Central Business District and a third change altering the stipulations to regulations for home wind energy turbines.

Article Photos

The council passed the third reading of a change to the zoning ordinance that would allow child care facilities, like this one on High Street, to exist in commercial and industrial zones.

As per the proposed change, small wind energy turbines on residences would no longer be required to have a special use permit, but will instead be required to have an administrative staff permit, said Stephen Troskey, city planner.

Troskey previously said the Planning and Zoning Commission decided to bring the cost of permits for such units down because of plummeting cost of residential wind turbines, not wanting owners to have to pay the $300 for a permit for an item that typically costs between $400 and $500.

The changes regarding child care facilities would also see the city's definition of child care facility mirror the state's definition. That way, Troskey said, the definition would automatically update whenever the state changes what it considers a child care facility.

The council will vote to pass resolutions on these items at its Sept. 10 meeting as they have all seen the requisite three readings for adoption.

Two other contentious topics-fencing materials and back and side yard parking - had readings passed as well.

Although the council approved the second reading of the proposed changes to the city ordinance limiting fencing materials, no member of the council moved to adopt an amendment to that would limit fence height to an average of six feet.

Al Hoop, fourth-ward council member, said he took issue with specifications in the ordinance that prohibits fence builders from using materials that are in disrepair.

"If I am saying it's a good piece of wood, and you are saying it is in disrepair, we are right back to where we started," he said.

The ordinance would also stipulate that fences specifically for gardens are exempt from these regulations. The council passed the second reading by a 4-3 margin.

After public outcry regarding back and side yard parking, the city has amended the proposed changes to the city code that would limit such parking.

Council members and citizens alike previously took issue with a Planning and Zoning requirement that back and side yard lots not exceed 20 percent of the total lot. After entertaining a motion to remove the topic from being tabled, the council approved the first reading.

Amendments to the proposed code change removed the 20 percent guideline, instead favoring limiting parking in side and back yards to concrete, asphalt, gravel or solid bricks. Gravel must be maintained and at a depth to prevent erosion and rutting, according to the proposed changes.

"If residents park in their rear yards, it needs to be on an appropriate surface," Troskey said.

The council will see two more readings of this topic before it can pass a resolution changing the city code.



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