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Proposed zoning changes on hold
June 12, 2014 Jerry Purvis   

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The Gering Planning Commission was to discuss a proposal to change zoning along 10th and 7th Streets, but lack of a quorum made it necessary to postpone the meeting until next month.

About 40 business owners along the two corridors, along with other concerned citizens, packed the council chamber Tuesday night, many to voice their opposition. Paul Reed of Paul Reed Construction commented during an earlier Board of Adjustment meeting that, “You’re upsetting the whole world here.”

The proposal was requested by the city council and would rezone most sections of 10th and 7th Streets from Heavy Industrial and Manufacturing to Business and Highway Commercial. But numerous business owners claimed it would limit their opportunities for expansion and devalue their land.

After the brief meeting, City Engineer Paul Snarr explained the city’s proposal for the media. The area being considered for rezoning is 10th Street from U Street to Country Club Road, and going east to 7th Street.

“The council asked us to look at the zoning,” Snarr said. “There have been numerous studies and public hearings, so this isn’t something new. The council would like to go toward a highway commercial district that better fits the needs of the travelers in the area.”

Snarr said it isn’t the city’s intent to kick out the businesses that currently fit under the Heavy Industrial and Manufacturing zoning. But they also wouldn’t be able to add onto or expand their existing businesses.

“Most of the businesses there already fit into Highway Commercial better than Industrial,” he said. “This proposal is only a start. It will only grow if approved by the city council.”

Another item the Planning Commission was to discuss was a proposal that would make livestock sales barns and meat slaughtering facilities an exceptional use, even if the current zoning remains the same. Currently under Heavy Industrial and Manufacturing zoning, those types of facilities are a permitted use, meaning they can build without approval from the city council.

“I think that with something as big as a sales barn or slaughtering facility, the council should have some input into the process,” Snarr said.

Current zoning regulations require that businesses maintain some landscaping on their property, but little is done in the corridor north of U Street.

“Most of that area is just gravel,” Snarr said. “But once the town reaches 10,000 people, the EPA will require us to monitor what goes into the curb and gutter drainage. That means the gravel will have to come to a stop. Either way, that area needs some landscaping.”

The next meeting of the Gering Planning Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, July 15 at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers.
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