City hears feedback on ordinance updates

MARSHALL – There was a small crowd, but Marshall city staff members did get some feedback on proposed updates to city zoning ordinances during a public meeting on Wednesday. Marshall Public Works Director Glenn Olson and building official Ilya Gutman spoke with a group of local businesspeople.

The topic of the meeting was proposed amendments to three parts of the city’s zoning ordinances. Two amendments, one to the city’s zoning definitions and one to the administration and enforcement of the zoning ordinances, will have a public hearing at the Sept. 24 Marshall City Council meeting. Olson said the third proposed amendment, to ordinances on landscaping, storage and building exteriors, has not been read by the council yet.

Olson and Gutman said the amendments included a variety of things, including updates to terms and definitions, and changes to make zoning ordinances more consistent.

Olson and Gutman talked about some specific parts of the updates with members of the public. Some of the updated language governed bed-and-breakfast businesses. Because there is currently only one bed and breakfast in Marshall, Olson said it was important to get feedback from the owners.

Olson said city staff had used sources like other cities’ ordinances to help formulate the bed and breakfast ordinances. They included restrictions on the length of time customers could stay and limiting meals served to breakfast only. Olson said staff were thinking about removing some of those restrictions.

Kathy Lozinski of the Arbor Inn Bed and Breakfast said getting rid of the restrictions wouldn’t have a negative impact on business.

Gutman said other proposed changes affected conditions for in-home businesses. Gutman said the changes would reflect some “actual practices” of home offices. For example, he said, a business like doing Web design is not likely to disturb neighbors and shouldn’t need to meet as many conditions.

Olson said the proposed amendments affecting landscaping and building exteriors “has generated some controversy because it is more regulation.” For example, he said, the proposal includes requirements for landscaping and green space on properties. But, he said there is leeway on what counts as green space and where. Another condition discussed at the meeting included a restriction on painting brick buildings.

“The purpose for this really is aesthetics,” Olson said – brick surfaces don’t hold paint well and need frequent maintenance.

Members of the public urged against over-regulating gardens and buildings.

Olson said the landscaping and building exterior amendment has been discussed by the city Planning and Zoning and Legislative and Ordinance Commissions. However, the city council’s first official reading of the amendment will be on Oct. 7.