Zoning Commission Meeting
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
By Terry Bailey
Anyone who attended the Beloit City Zoning Commission meeting last night in Belot was able to view democracy in action in its purist form – the town meeting.
Due to the large number of citizens attending the meeting, it was moved to the larger Trail Room downstairs to accommodate the crowd that was estimated at one hundred twenty concerned individuals. Those attending had an opinion on the issue and came prepared to share their opinion.
The initial purpose of the meeting was for representatives from the consulting firm of Hanna – Keelan Associates of Lincoln, Nebraska to present their preliminary summary of the Community Housing Study requested by the Beloit City Council. The intent was for the Zoning Committee to review the study and then pass it on the City Council with or without the Zoning Committee’s recommendation. Then the City Council could then accept these recommendations or return it back to the Zoning Committee for additional study and revisions. The current Zoning Committee is composed of Andrew Grabon, Nick Richmond, Kathy Roberts and the chairperson, Jeff Chrisman.
The consulting firm of Hanna-Keelan Associates has been retained by the City Council to analyze growth patterns for the City for the next ten and twenty five years. Over the past year the consultants have been at work in Beloit conducting community meetings and visually inspecting the type, style and quality of houses in Beloit. Surveys have been distributed, collected, and analyzed. Housing is not the only topic under study by the consultants, but it was the ‘hot button’ topic at last night’s meeting.
The consultants stated that as the city of Beloit grows, there are currently enough vacant areas to provide building space for new homes. Currently there are existing homes that could be demolished and new homes built upon that site. Numerous vacant lots are also available for the building of single family homes, duplexes or apartment buildings. If all future building was done on currently available properties, all new building could be done within the city limits of Beloit.
The consultants noted that as the city of Beloit grows and a need for new homes arises in response to that growth, it might be necessary to annex land adjacent to the city boundaries to accommodate for this growth. By statute, the Zoning commission has jurisdiction for planning up to three miles beyond the city limits. It was at this point that the wheels fell off the bus.
The majority of the crowd attending the meeting were not residents of the city of Beloit. They were landowners outside the city. These citizens appeared to be those who had a vested interest in whether or not the city was allowed to first plan then zone, then annex their land. Twelve to fifteen members of the crowd posed question to the consultants and the Zoning Committee. From the questions posed and the statements made, it was obvious zoning led to action that was viewed by the land owners as unwarranted meddling by the government.
Becky Crumbaker made an intelligent and impassioned address to the Zoning Committee. Crumbaker noted that American farmer is an independent type of person. She explained that she believed that current members of the Zoning Committee or the City Council were good citizens and tried to do their best. She went on to note that the studies presented were for ten years and twenty five years in the future. She acknowledged that nobody knew who will be sitting in these seats in the future. She summed up what appeared to the on everyone’s mind, “Trying to tell the American farmer what he can do with his land has never been a popular idea in the past and it sure isn’t now.”
After the meeting had been in session for about eighty minutes, Zoning Committee member Kathy Roberts made a motion to approve the Housing Summary as presented by the Consultants including the zoning jurisdiction extending three miles from the current city limit. After being seconded, Roberts motion passed by a three to one vote of the Zoning Committee.
Two more meetings are scheduled for the Committee. The next meeting will be held September ninth followed by a meeting on October fourteenth. The meetings are scheduled to be held in the City Council meeting room.
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