Buffering property between industrial and residential and between subdivisions and roads were the main topic of conversation Feb. 3 at the Commerce City Council work session.

The council asked the planning commission for recommendations on buffers.

The council could vote on new buffer conditions at its Feb. 17 regular meeting.

Jordan Shoemaker, administrator for the planning and zoning department said the planning commission recommendations include:

•a 50-foot buffer for industrial property.

•a 50-foot buffer for residential property that abuts industrial land. That would be a total of a 100-foot buffer.

• Vegetation would be required in that buffer. Fences and other structures would not be allowed.

•A buffer would be 60 percent planted in evergreen trees and bushes and 40 percent in deciduous trees and bushes.

Council member Bobby Redmon suggested a “range” of buffers from light- to heavy-industrial. It was suggested that a 75-foot buffer be included in any M-2 heavy industry zoning.

Mayor Clark Hill suggested another buffer zone be approved for parkland or for historic property. He said the property for a 600-acre industrial development that is adjacent to Interstate 85 would be very close to land in the Hurricane Shoals Park area.

A buffer for that area might be 100 feet, he said. It also could include other suggestions by a developer. For example, a very high berm or a fence of some height might work in some areas.

Shoemaker said areas developed along roads might include guard rails. She stressed plans from the beginning need to be submitted to the planning office. For example, one site that raised the issue is the rear of Carrington Place, a 55+ development, that includes houses near a curve in Mt. Olive Road.

Shoemaker said if the developer had not cleared all the vegetation away down to the right-of-way perhaps a vegetative buffer could have been left and guard rails would not be needed.

She also said fences and other similar structures could be permissible for housing developments.

RECYCLING

In other business, Jerry Harrison, with Waste Pro, the city’s garbage collector, said recycling has changed dramatically in the past two years.

He said standards for accepting recycling materials have changed. Harrison said companies that had recycled have started charging fees if a recycle load is “contaminated.”

He used the examples of grocery bags and black garbage bags as items that are no longer accepted.

Harrison said loads now are charged fees if they are one percent contaminated. He said his company aims for 20 percent contamination and that is sometimes difficult to meet.

Council member Johnny Eubanks repeatedly said city customers should be “educated” on what is acceptable for recycling and what is not. He said the city spent time and effort when the program first started to explain what material can be recycled.

“It may be time again” to do that, Eubanks said.

Harrison suggested that cities and companies that recycle are moving to restricting what material is taken for four or five commodities – “and that’s it.”

He said cities are beginning to set up locations where material can be taken, perhaps once a week on Saturday.

He said, “China used to buy all our stuff” and now it is not buying any.

“What we’re doing, it’s not working,” Eubanks said. “We need to make this work if at all possible.”

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the council:

•will consider approving Jerry Weitz & Associates as a consultant to the city to review the zoning regulations and development standards. Weitz works with a number of area cities and towns.

•will be asked to approve quit claim deeds on Barber and Harmony streets for construction of new homes under the Community Housing Improvement Program. The city has received

$300,000 to build new houses and sell them to residents. A revolving loan fund can be set up to use the money from new construction to build more houses. Shoemaker said construction can start on the houses by April.

•will consider a variance for a piece of property along U.S. Hwy. 441 adjacent to United Community Bank. An office building for two to three businesses can be built there.

•will consider approval for three agreements between the city, its police department and other law enforcement agencies.

•will be asked to re-appoint Billy Chandler and John Stell as city judge and city attorney, respectively for 24-month terms. City manager James Wascher said Stell would consider attending city planning commission meetings on the fourth Monday of a month. His retainer for the city would increase from $1,500 to $1,750 a month for that service.

•will consider approving a special event permit for the sale of beer and wine for the Folk-to-Fine Art event March 6.

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