Two ordinances had first readings by the Hastings City Council Monday. Council members get information on an issue at the first reading and have until the next meeting to learn more before it’s brought up at the second reading, when action is expected.
Ordinance 561 would allow emergency and transitional housing in most zoning districts near the city’s downtown by special use permit. Originally to permit temporary housing for qualified inmates being released from Barry County Jail, it was broadened by the commission to include other forms of temporary housing for others facing other needs and challenges.
With special uses, the commission can establish conditions and controls for each facility and its use. Planning Commision Chairman David Hatfield was at the council meeting to answer questions from members.
Hatfield said they have been working on the transitional housing ordinance for about six months since the original request from Judge Amy McDowell.
When the commission was deciding on the ordinance, they “were creating too many specifics; it got convoluted,” he said.
So instead, he said they backed away, and gave general guidance and would look at specifics under the special use permit
As a special use, they have the right to look at specifics on any proposal. Each applicant will be specifically judged on the merits of the specifics by the planning commission, he said.
Some of the special use provisions are to maintain the appearance of a one-family dwelling with nothing to identify it as transitional or emergency housing, approval by a building inspector, no activities that would be detrimental to neighbors, he right to review on-site management, the number of people to occupy the dwelling at one time, the size of rooms, and all applications submitted to the police and fire departments for review and comment.
When Councilwoman Brenda McNabb-Stange said it looked like the planning commission was making law, Hatfield noted that City Planner Rebecca Harvey wrote the ordinance.
There will be more discussion to make sure everyone is “on the same page on the second reading.”//
The second ordinance would rezone five parcels along and near Woodlawn Avenue from AO-Apartment-Office, R-1 and R1A One Family Residential to A-1 Apartment.
A request from Ravenna Holdings to the Planning Commission to rezone a parcel at 600 East Woodlawn Avenue for multi-family development was broadened by the planning commission to reflect land development patterns in the area. The planning commission recommended approval of both ordinances.
In other business, Clerk/Treasurer Jerry Czarnecki was appointed to a three year term on the Barry County Solid Oversight Committee at the request of Mayor Dave Tossava. He will replace City Manager Jeff Mansfield whose term expires the end of October. Also, Tom Wiswell was approved to serve on the Joint Planning Committee to fill Tom Wilt’s seat after his resignation.