Zoning change meant to allow city more control over development

Dogs must be leashed in public areas

PRESCOTT – The Prescott City Council met Oct. 11 and main topics of discussion were a zoning change, possible well repairs for the current unusable well and addressing business owners’ concerns about zoning.

The meeting began with a public hearing concerning repealing and replacing Ordinance 06-21, which would change the current Highway Commercial Zoning District (C-2) and limit what that portion of land can be used for in the future.

C-2 allows for business services, such as bakeries, barber shops, bars, beauty shops, clinics, clothing stores, clubs, drug stores, eating and drinking establishments, fish markets, florists, food lockers, gas stations, grocery stores, hotels, and many more.

Permitted uses for C-2 districts are currently listed as manufactured and mobile homes, vehicle and equipment sales and service, warehousing, wholesaling and storage facilities.

In a memo dated Oct. 8, City Administrator Matt Wolf wrote, “Typically commercial zoning districts are reserved for places that are concerned with the engagement of commerce with daily activity taking place at the business. With the activity of buying and selling taking place regularly, this commercial development then facilitates additional traffic and development along the area for future growth.”

To facilitate that desired development, the city wants to remove wholesaling and warehousing from the permitted items listed above from their C-2 zoning district, and restrict other uses through a Special Use Permit, so it can have better control of the area’s development and attractiveness.

Warehousing and wholesaling are allowed in industrial districts. The city’s argument is that these two uses do not permit daily activity within the business from the public in the C-2 district.

The process will change for businesses under certain categories, such as mobile home parks, storage facilities and vehicle equipment sales and service establishments; they will need a Special Use Permit (SUP) to be approved. Wolf said while these businesses take part in daily commerce with the public, they can also result in excess storage of exterior materials or products.

Moving these uses to a SUP process gives the city more control over what is approved, such as landscaping, type of construction, start and end construction dates, sureties, lighting, fencing, operational control, hours of operation, planting screens, parking and more.

“A SUP comes with a site plan approval where you are locking in that site plan exactly how it is laid out and nothing can be changed as part of that SUP,” Wolf said.

Many business owners spoke at the public hearing against this change. Those who spoke have businesses in the district and are concerned about how this change may affect them now and in the future. One of those was Scott DeGross from Victory Fireworks.

“The first question that comes to my mind with this is what problem are you trying to fix?” DeGross asked.

Others had this same question when presenting their concerns to the council.

Mayor David Hovel reassured current business owners that the council is not intending to harm any current businesses with this ordinance change, but rather to work in advance in case issues arise in the future.

The council would like to keep the community of the highest standard for current residences and visitors and the intention behind this change is to continue to keep the city within these high standards, Hovel said.

The ordinance was approved with a split vote of 4-3.

Well No. 3

The council discussed Well #3, which tested high for nitrate levels and is currently not being used. Discussion included what the next steps will be to fix the issue and get the well running again.

The options consisted of digging the current well deeper in the same area ($400,000 cost estimate), treating the water using reverse osmosis to cleanse the water of the nitrate and other chemicals ($1.5 million cost estimate, or to test a new site and build a new well in a different area ($1.5 to $1.75 million cost estimate).

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) requests that the city goes forward with two of the three options to test. The council then decided on two of the options to be tested and continue with the process.

Animals on public grounds

Another ordinance repeal and replacement that some community members were against is Ordinance 235-8 that would require animals to be leashes within parks and public grounds at all times. The concern comes from the fact that there is no dog park for residents to use in the Prescott area.

The council approved the ordinance repeal and replacement 6-1. Dogs must be on a leash no longer than 15 feet at public playgrounds, schools, public parks, beaches or swimming areas. The council decided future discussions of creating a dog park in the city is important.

Other business

•The council voted unanimously to repeal and replace an ordinance making city park hours 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

•The council voted unanimously to repeal and replace an ordinance which alters the ward boundaries in the city. This happens every 10 years after the Census.

•The council approved a pay request for $202,967.50 for the repairs and reconditioning of the current water tower project.

October 13, 2021