The rezoning of property on South Main caused some disagreement among the El Dorado City Commission Monday evening.
The rezone was a request by property owners David Sundgren and Dave Callaway.
“Due to some perceived notification issues, we decided to go through the process again,” said Scott Rickard, assistant city engineer.
The zoning would change the land from commercial to light industrial.
“Staff felt it was compatible with the neighborhood,” Rickard said. “It meets the future land use map and comp plan.”
Commissioner Chase Locke said he knew some of the initial concerns as to what the facility would look like and noise were addressed with the neighboring owners.
“I think they are trying to do something positive and get some business down there,” he said.
The proposed business is a valve repair company.
Mayor Mike Fagg was concerned it didn’t meet the comprehensive plan recommended use.
“A lot of time and effort went into this thing (comprehensive plan),” Fagg said. “Did the planning commission discuss how it would affect the area long term?”
Rickard said they looked at suitability of uses and how it fits, as well as any restrictions, going through the list of questions the comprehensive plan asks.
Reading from the plan, Fagg said, “No planning effort shall provide for general good, yet accommodate all general interest.”
He said the industrial land use guidelines include: adjacent to existing industrial uses or in industrial parks, traffic not feeding directly onto residential streets and not generating industrial traffic through less intense land use areas.
“The question is where do we want this area to go,” Fagg said. “I don’t think we want it to go to I-1 from what I see.”
He pointed out there was a lot of residential, a dentist office, accounting business and number of retail stores in the area.
“I think the city has a lot of I-1 areas around,” he continued. “We have the industrial park that has empty lots in it. If you look at these maps we have plenty of I-1.”
His concern was they would turn the area into I-1 and lose what the comprehensive plan says it should be.
Fagg also pointed out the reason there is some I-1 in that area is because they are grandfathered in.
Commissioner Bill Young added under the industrial guidelines, such a business should be located close to support services, city truck routes or airports.
Page 2 of 4 - “I don’t necessarily disagree that we have additional I-1 out there, but the comp plan also talks about due to a variety of reasons much of the existing business use is taking place west of Haverhill in USD 375 and many think more should be done to increase growth in the 490 area. That’s a big one to me,” he said.
“We keep pushing all of our business so that tax base goes to another school district. While we don’t want to take away the success 375 has had, I think we need to be more forward thinking on things to do to increase the tax base for 490 as well.”
Commissioner David Chapin also voiced his thoughts.
“I think if a company finds land, chooses it and meets the requirements, it is not our business to tell them to go somewhere else,” he said. “A lot of people don’t think a refinery is appropriate for in the city limits either, but we’re not telling them to move.”
Chapin also asked if any neighboring business owners voiced concern at the planning commission meeting.
Rickard said the property owner directly to the east did voice concern because his property is for sale and he didn’t want anything to go in that would be detrimental to the sale of his property. They also had received an e-mail from The Cabins motel in the vicinity saying she was in support of a rezone, then they received another e-mail Monday saying she did not support it.
City Manager Herb Llewellyn said they did look at the comp plan and the fact industrial is not normal in a downtown environment.
“That said, the discussion and ultimately what was included in the current zoning included light industrial in the south part of the business district of the city of El Dorado,” he said. “If I remember right, the discussion was around those people (I-1 already in the area). That zoning has been in place a long time and was concerned it was going to be taken. The outcome is it was left an industrial zone.”
Fagg said he just thought it was unusual the same type of use would be possible at Main and Central according to the map.
“Would we want this type of business at Main and Central?” he asked.
“To me,” said Commissioner Nick Badwey, “the key is the length of time the property has been vacant. We have a company who wants to come here and for whatever reason they chose this piece of property. I want to get them on the tax roles.”
Page 3 of 4 - Rickard also added the main reason for the rezone is for outdoor storage.
Llewellyn said it was when they look at the site plan that they can make sure the use is compatible with the neighbors.
“If they were to build a building that encompassed the whole lot, within the limits of the easements, we would not be having this discussion,” Chapin said.
“In my opinion it doesn’t fit with the comp plan,” Fagg reiterated.
“But it is just sitting empty down there,” Locke said.
Locke then made a motion to approve the rezone, which was seconded by Badwey.
At this point, resident and area business owner, Glen Hobson asked to speak.
He said he was the owner Rickard had mentioned who was concerned.
“This whole thing was botched up from the very beginning because property owners weren’t notified the way they should be,” he said. “That got straightened out and we were notified of a hearing in October.
“I wrote letters to all involved and said I was concerned about what type of business was to be conducted on those premises.
“I heard they need outside storage. When I came down here that night (the planning commission meeting), I found out that business is a valve repair business. Have you ever been around a valve repair business and seen the outside storage?”
He presented photos of another outside storage of valves to the commission.
“Tell me, each and every one of you that you would like to have that kind of business operating in your area,” Hobson said. “There is a pile of old rusty valves laying around. There’s nothing to control the runoff and the rain. Those valves come in and you don’t know what product they have controlled or if they are full of acid and they are going to lay out there until they have time to work on them. The rain and wind is going to do what it does.”
He suggested the city commission table the motion and send it back to the planning commission to reconsider.
“I didn’t know that night when I showed up it was going to be a valve repair and I didn’t have those pictures,” he said.
Locke said it seemed like an easy fix. When they look at the site review, they require a fence to hide that.
Badwey said they had said it would be screened.
Page 4 of 4 - The request was approved 4-1, with Fagg opposed.
In addition to the rezone, the commission also considered a final plat of the Criss Ninth Addition.
Ramon and Betty Criss were requesting the approval of the final plat, which was almost a complete replat of the eighth addition.
The plat would tie on to the end of Jason Drive and extend on to Twelfth Avenue. It would include 21 residential lots.
The addition is located west of Vintage Place Assisted Living.
It is zoned R3, mulit-family, which was the original zoning and the owners did not request it to be changed. While a single lot size is not large enough for a multi-family structure, someone could buy two to three lots and build apartments.
Fagg wanted to make sure the developer understood the city is regulating subdivision regulations and it is up in the air how much the city will pay on sewer and water. He said they should get proactive on this.
Rickard said they have been gathering information on water, sewer, street and storm sewer guidelines.
“We will have that discussion with this developer prior to the final petitions,” he said.
Llewellyn said they would have the information before the end of the month, then they would schedule a meeting to discuss it.
The plat was approved 5-0, but city staff will ask the developer to change it to R-1, single family residential.
Julie Clements can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.