Archive for Thursday, March 18, 2010

Council OK is given for compromise

March 18, 2010

In the end, a compromise regarding new subdivision regulations was upheld by the Baldwin City Council at Monday’s meeting.

But it didn’t happen without lengthy discussion — almost three hours — and it didn’t come without votes on three separate articles from the 250-page document the Baldwin City Planning Commission delivered to the council for action months ago. None of the votes were unanimous and one of them reversed a previous vote of the council regarding the regulations.

It was much like the initial compromise that had been worked out between the planning commission and a group of local investors and development officials. At issue were regulations for subdivisions that would comprise large lots, 1-3 acres.

“The compromise wasn’t a real heart-felt compromise,” Mayor Ken Wagner said Monday.

The planning commission’s compromise was that the possible large-lot subdivisions wouldn’t be required to have curb and guttered streets, unlike most subdivisions, but would be required to be hooked to city sewer. The development group wanted septic tanks.

When that was initially placed before the council, Council President Ted Brecheisen Jr. didn’t like it, saying that relaxing curb and gutter requirements would be a step back. He was joined by council members Tom Farmer and Mike Magers in a 3-1 vote asking the planning commission to reconsider that item. Council Member Bonnie Plumberg was the dissenting vote and Council Member Robin Bayer missed that meeting.

Brecheisen and Farmer reiterated those arguments, while Magers had had second thoughts because of the costs to curb and gutter such streets. He was joined by Plumberg and Bayer in the discussion and eventual 3-2 vote that kept the planning commission’s initial recommendation. The same voters did away with sidewalk requirements, too.

However, in the vote for sewer hookup instead of septic tanks, the vote was 4-1 to require sewer hookup. Bayer, citing the spirit of the compromise, voted with Brecheisen, Farmer and Magers.

There was only one article in the new zoning regulations that the council didn’t agree on. It involved the planning commission’s recommendation on 30-foot setbacks from the right of way for building homes, instead of 25 feet. Brecheisen, Farmer and Magers voted for the 30-foot setbacks.

After Monday’s marathon session, City Administrator Jeff Dingman is to incorporate the council’s vote into the new regulations, which will be adopted at a later meeting.

The council also approved on first reading the adoption of the Parks and Trails Master Plan for the city on a 5-0 vote. The same vote on first reading approved an ordinance for exemptions regarding parking in alleys. Both measures will be voted on again at the next meeting.

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