Modular bldg. issues vex leaders

Published 8:22 pm Tuesday, April 27, 2010

While aldermen agreed that they don’t like a modular buildingthat has been placed in a parking lot on Highway 51, they had ahard time coming to any other clear conclusions on what to do withmodular buildings inside the city limits at Monday night’s worksession.

Ideas were bounced around the table between the four aldermen inattendance, as well as City Building Inspector Chip Gennaro andPublic Works Director Steve Moreton and members of the boards ofzoning and adjustments. Landscaping, skirting and foundations weremain talking points as officials tried to find their way closer toa feasible ordinance that would regulate what modular andmanufactured buildings can be constructed inside the city.

Ward One Alderman Dorsey Cameron, Ward Two Alderman Terry Batesand Ward Three Alderman Mary Wilson did not attend the worksession.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The debate was kicked off most recently by a modular quick carefacility placed in the parking lot in front of Sears on Highway 51.Aldermen expressed displeasure in having a modular building thatnot only has not yet been skirted nor landscaped, but underneathwhich the wheels are still visible.

The point was made that landscaping is planned for the buildingin the form of potted plants. Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estespointed out that perhaps that needs to be addressed.

“We can landscape with potted things? That meets our needs?”Estes said.

Gennaro informed her that the current ordinances don’t designatewhether the landscaping needs to be pots or beds.

“Well, you could have dead plants in pots and meet our needs,”Estes said.

The board discussed that any ordinance that was constructed inreference to the modular buildings in commercial districts would beto upkeep appearance.

“That’s what zoning is about is protecting property,” said WardSix Alderman David Phillips, who has led efforts to improve zoninglaws and shore up “loopholes” in current zoning ordinances.

City Attorney Joe Fernald pointed out that sometimes appearanceis not what matters to a landowner.

“Protect who?” he said. “At what point is this interfering withbusiness?”

Fernald also said the board needed to be careful that they heldthe same standards to every ward.

“The zoning has to be the same all throughout town, but in someplaces they don’t want zoning,” he said.

The board also discussed accessory buildings on privateproperty, and if there needs to be further regulation in that area.They discussed regulations on size and location, but all agreedthat if the building is attached to a home, it can be whatever sizethe homeowner wants it to be.

Mayor Les Bumgarner said it’s going to be tough to come up withrules, but it’s still an important undertaking.

“Everyone argues about the rules, but everyone wants rules,” hesaid. “One of the most important things you can do, especially inthe residential area, is protect people’s property value. Sometimesyou’ve just got to tell some people no.”

The board turned their ideas back over to Phillips, who said hewould continue working on possible ordinance ideas to present at afuture board of aldermen meeting.