Mallory Herrmann

The city council had a rough start to their regular session this week. After an hour’s delay from their scheduled starting time – the council had a scheduled closed session prior to the meeting that ran long – the conversation was stalled considering a couple of proposed amendments regarding special use permits.

The council approved a requirement change that will allow in-home massage therapists to operate using a conditional use permit instead of a special use permit. The requirements for the permit itself will remain the same, but the process is expected to be simplified by the change. Bob McKay, director of planning and special projects, said the special use permit process has long been “deemed too onerous, too costly.”

Councilmember Rob Binney expressed concern that citizens will lose the opportunity to weigh in on the granting of such a permit and ultimately voted against the measure, joining Councilmembers Diane Forte and Craig Faith in voting no.

It was Binney alone who opposed sending a similar ordinance back to committee, this one regarding conditional use permits for indoor climate-controlled storage facilities and municipal fire stations in certain zoning districts. That discussion quickly became tangled up in language (including a discrepancy between the amendment as presented in the public hearing, which did include municipal fire stations, and the amendment as presented in the bill, which only referenced storage facilities) and in the rules, with amendments proposed and then withdrawn and questions regarding the appropriate process to remand the issue back to the community and economic development committee. In the end, the council hopes that CEDC will be able to clarify the language and provide two separate ordinances for reconsideration, one specific to fire stations and one regarding indoor climate-controlled storage facilities.

Mayor Bill Baird found himself apologizing to the room, admitting the discussions were following a trend set in the closed session, which had sent them over their scheduled time.

Three residents spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting to express opposition to the proposed Extra Space indoor/outdoor storage facility near Highway 50 and North 291, citing concerns ranging from traffic and noise to water runoff and market saturation. When it came time for the council to discuss the preliminary development plan for the project it seemed that none were eager to approve it (or the special use permit currently required for opening such a business in a commercial services district). They again voted (with Binney against) to send the matter back to committee for further consideration, with this project returning to the planning commission for another public hearing. Neighbors will receive an additional notice accordingly.

Mayor Pro Tem Beto Lopez thanked the council, staff, and those in attendance for bearing with the long meeting and for remaining committed to dealing with the tough issues, even when frustrating or even boring.

All councilmembers were present for the August 23 meeting. The council’s next regular session is scheduled for Thursday, September 6.