Conditional Use Hearing: Wednesday May 7th, 4pm

AnnouncementsI haven’t written much about it on here so far, but I am currently serving on the Zoning and Planning Commission here in West Liberty.  Now, before you start throwing eggs at me, you need to realize there’s been a fair amount of inaccurate information circulating since the tornado about what zoning and planning has or hasn’t done, as well as what its actual role is in the recovery process, let alone the day-to-day operations of the city.

I plan to start writing a regular post on here to keep you informed as to what we are working on.  If there’s one thing that has been in short supply since the tornado, it is information…at least TIMELY information.  I have found it to be incredibly frustrating, so if I can do my small part to help pull back the curtain, I want to do that.

As some of you likely know already, a medical ambulance service is wanting to locate a new facility here in town.  The site they are currently looking at is the lot on Wells Hill where Judge Ralph Walters’ house used to be.  That lot is currently zoned as an Agriculture district, and they are needing what is called a conditional use permit to be able to locate there, since what they are wanting to place there is not exactly in keeping with the nature of what the lot is zoned for.

Typically, a conditional use permit is something you might see someone request when they want to locate a small business within a residential district.  Instead of re-zoning the lot to business, which can be a more permanent process, a conditional use permit can be issued instead.  This allows the business to operate but keeps the lot zoned as residential.  Then, if the business leaves, the permit can just be allowed to expire.

In order to issue a conditional use permit, the City’s Board of Adjustments will convene a hearing to allow the party requesting the permit to submit their plans and proposal.  The Board of Adjustments is a separate body from the Zoning and Planning Commission.

The public is also welcome to attend the hearing, in order to listen to the proposal and express any concerns they may have with the issuing of the permit.  Typically, any adjoining or nearby property holders would be the most interested, as it is their property values that are potentially affected.  Adjoining property owners must be notified at least 14 days before the public hearing is to take place.

The conditional use hearing for the proposed Air Evac hangar/helipad facility is scheduled for this upcoming Wednesday, May 7th, at 4pm in City Hall.  The meeting will take place in the City Council meeting room on the 2nd floor, and it is open to the public.  A few folks have asked me about the details, as I don’t think the ad that has been running in the paper includes the time for the meeting, so I wanted to post that information here.

If you are a resident in the area near the hospital and proposed site, or if you know someone who is and who might be interested in attending the hearing to voice their opinions, please turn out or encourage them to do so.

If you are opposed to this or any other conditional use or zoning change request, don’t be afraid to say so.  Objecting doesn’t mean you are against the individual or the business or development in genreal.  It simply means you have concerns about the impact it will have on your property and your community.

It is fine to be supportive of development, while at the same time expressing your concern over the effects on your property.  If you don’t make those concerns known, the Board won’t know how you feel.  The Board can make a decision to approve, deny, or request changes in a permit request, but any input the public can offer is always welcome, even if it is to offer alternative site suggestions or ways that might make the project more acceptable to the affected property holders.

I am sure we all favor progress, but not when it comes at the expense of citizens who live and own property here.  It is the duty of the Zoning and Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustments to help make sure that progress in our community happens in a way that is productive and beneficial to all parties involved.

If you have any questions about any of this at all, please feel free to ask.  I just hope this sheds a little light on what all is involved in this process, and I will continue to provide  information about the issues we are dealing with as often as I can.