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Council amends Planning and Zoning Commission ordinances

The Newton City Council amended two ordinances brought forth by the Planning and Zoning Commission during itsmeeting on Monday.

The first was amended during the second consideration of an ordinance amending city code for residential accessory buildings. Based on the new language, Zoning Board of Adjustment could require such things as landscape buffering or articulation along long wall planes as necessary to protect the look and feel of a neighborhood.

Councilor Jeff Price added the concern of a citizen with regard to the new ordinance.

“He said he was on a fixed income and wanted to know the reasoning behind an additional $100 to build on his own property,” Price said.

The council had Planning and Zoning Director Erin Chambers clear up some of the language of the ordinance.

“We’re not changing the zoning codes on accessory buildings that are less than 1,000 square feet,” Chambers said. “At that point, we’re talking about an oversized garage. Typically, when we see an oversized detached garage, 30-by-30 would be a rather large size for a detached garage.

“There are a number of citizens in the community who do have a desire to build even larger, but those oftentimes propose conflicts with what neighbors see or have expectations of. In recognizing this as a potential issue, the Planning and Zoning Commission, over the course of four meetings, came to the conclusion once you get over the 1,000-square-foot mark, a neighborhood input process is desired, and the conditional-use permit process, which is already set up in the language of our zoning codes, seems to make the most sense in the eyes of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

“The application fee of $100 for a conditional-use permit covers the notice being published in the newspaper twice as well as mailings to all the neighbors. On a project such as this, you’re looking at a projected cost of $30,000 to $50,000 building evaluation for a project that size. At the $32,000 mark, which was put on the building evaluation on a building that started last fall. The building permit for that was $416. Proportionately, another $100 to accomplish a positive neighborhood process on notifying neighbors seems to be pretty balanced by the Planning and Zoning Commission.”

Chambers noted the commission heard from both sides on the issue regarding the ordinance during the course of the four meetings.

“We had a great discussion and came to what we think is a very compromising solution,” Chambers said.

The council passed the second consideration unanimously. Councilor Steve Mullan moved to suspend the third consideration of the ordinance and was seconded leading to a vote, which passed unanimously.

The council also has adopted an ordinance to adding language to add neighborhood centers to the R-2 zoning district. The commission, before to the city council meeting on Monday, examined and approved new zoning rules for allowing “neighborhood centers” by conditional-use permit within an R-2 zoning district.

The applicants proposed to open a medical spa and health and wellness facility within the existing clubhouse at the former Cardinal Hills Golf Course at 1200 S. Sixth Ave. W. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the approval of the neighborhood center with a unanimous vote.

Councilor Noreen Otto moved to suspend the second and third considerations of the ordinance, which passed unanimously.

Staff writer Zach Johnson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at

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