The Commerce City Council wants to amend its current zoning map to eliminate some inconsistencies, but the move is raising questions about locations where the current use wouldn't conform to the new zoning codes.

Under the proposed changes, property that doesn't match the new zoning classification would be grandfathered for the life of the existing structure for its current use. The largest impact would likely be on mobile home owners in the city.

During a council meeting held July 6, city manager James Wascher said any current or permitted use in an area that is changing will be allowed to continue for the life of the structure as a non-conforming use.

“A lot of people are confused that they are going to have to immediately change their property if their zoning changes and that is not the case,” said Wascher. “Any property that does not currently conform to the zoning use that it is being changed to will be allowed to stay as it is as a nonconforming property.”

But it isn't clear what would happen is an existing structure were destroyed — would the property owner be allowed to rebuild under its current use, or would it have to be rebuilt under the new zoning classification?

 “This could be bad for some homeowners if they were to lose their mobile home or house and got one third of the cost to rebuild under the new zoning,” said councilman Bobby Redmon. “I think this is something that needs to be fixed before we go forward with approval of the new zoning.”

Wascher said one option would be to adopt a hardship ordinance. With a hardship clause, if a property is damaged due to a disaster as defined by the ordinance, the structure could be built back to the standard in place prior to the event.

The issue was also discussed during a June 29 public hearing before the Commerce Planning Commission. The public hearing drew approximately 40 citizens with 20 offering comments about the proposed map. Most of the comments centered around the impact on mobile home owners would would be shifted from R5 into an R1 or R2 zoning.

That would change where future mobile homes are allowed in the city and what property owners shifted to R1 or R2 zones could replace mobiles homes with in the event of catastrophic damage.

Planning board vice-chairman Andre Rollins voted against the map.

“We’re still taking all of the comments into consideration,” Commerce planning director Jordan Shoemaker said.

At the July 6 council meeting, Wascher was directed to prepare regulations for council review prior to the July 20 council meeting that will address hardships cases affected by proposed changes.

SK BATTERY AMERICA

The city council is also considering approval of a license agreement with SK Battery America to lower a city gas main at the entry to the new facility.

One of the main provisions of the agreement would require the company to use a qualified gas contractor to perform the work. In addition, service cannot be interrupted and the project will be completely at the expense of SK Battery.

The council is also looking to approve a natural gas sales agreement with SK Battery America. The city enters into sales agreements with all high-volume customers to address gas purchases and pricing.

An agreement for high volume water and sewer usage is also under consideration.

ANNEXATIONS

In other business, the council reviewed but took no action on requests to annex and rezone:

•  43.309 acres on Haggard Road. The applicant is Ridgeline Land Planning on behalf of the developer. The property would be zoned M-1 for industrial development for small scale industrial facilities and the developer would be required to have fully shielded lighting.

• 1.9 acres at the corner of US Highway 441 South and Highway 59 for relocation of the Dollar General. This would change the property from HI in the county to C2 in the city and access would be from Highway 59.

• 2.2 acres on US Highway 441 South. The proposed zoning for this property would change from HI in the county to C-2 in the city. The property owner has no current plans to develop, however the property is for sale.

• 2.7 acres at 2382 Homer Road. The proposed zoning for this property would change from HI to C2 for commercial retail business.

The council also reviewed a request to permit demolition of property located at 1195 and 1981 North Elm Street. Pinnacle Bank is planning to construct a new branch bank on the property.

OTHER BUSINESS

In other business, the council:

• is looking to approve a land swap at 8569 Jefferson Road. Liberty Hill has made the city an offer for a land swap to square up city owned property and allow for an easement to permit the developer access to the city sewer lift station.

• heard that the Commerce Board of Education is requesting the council consider making Lakeview Drive a two-way street. The change would help with traffic issues for new bus routes.

• received a bid from CDW Government LLC in the amount of $90,831 for replacement of virtual servers.

• received a request from Naushad Varsariyn, Texaco Foodmart at 614 South Broad Street for a license to sale beer and wine.

• received a permit request for a beer garden on September 12, 2020 in conjunction with the Concerts on Cherry event. The beer garden will be provided by Commerce Sport Bar at Cherry Street Parking. This free event is slated to be the city’s first event since COVID19 and event participants will be asked to maintain social distancing.

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