The Luther Town Board appointed a Board of Adjustment in February. The five-member volunteer board will act as an appeals board on zoning issues that first go through the Luther Planning Commission. A new planing commission also has been appointed but hasn’t met yet.
The Board of Adjustment will meet Monday evening to organize and hold a public hearing on its first case. Board of Adjustment members are: John Wilson, Phil Campbell, Kevin Schrimsher, Bruce Wilson & Pam Simmons.
The Luther Town Board, acting as the planning commission, denied a variance last month on a request to move a new manufactured home onto a 17-acre property on North Luther Road at the edge of the Town limits.
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING: APPEAL TO THE BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT
Town Of Luther Code Section 12-242, Zoning Variances, and Ordinance 2019-01
The Board of Adjustment shall have the power to authorize, upon appeal, in specific cases, such variances from the terms of this ordinance as will not be contrary to the public interest where, owing to special conditions, a literal enforcement of the provisions would result in an unnecessary hardship.
Section 12-242, Article 1. Items a, b, c, & d and Article 2, Items a, b, c, & d, are the definitions and requirements of the applicant and at this time his application has been accepted. A copy of the entire ordinance will be available at the meeting.
The zoning request is for a zoning variance within the existing A-1 zoning for the subject property to allow a mobile / manufactured home.
The applicant spoke to the Town Board at its Special/Planning meeting last Thursday and said while she appreciates the work of the Board and their volunteer service, the variance denial has been a traumatic and highly stressful experience for her family. She said the new home on the land is for family members and would be hidden by trees, and from the road.
The applicant said she has taken great care to improve her property since moving there and has a beautiful property that would continue to be beautiful with the additional structure.
Acting as the Planning Commission, the variance was approved by Trustees Roach and Langston. Trustee Lea Ann Jackson abstained because she is a neighbor to the property and didn’t want an appearance of a conflict of interest. Trustee White voted no. Trustee Cavin wasn’t at the meeting. Since an abstain vote equals a “no” vote, the variance request failed.
During the Special/Planning meeting on February 28, Trustee Jackson said she had been studying the town’s ordinances governing zoning and it’s changes.
“I feel like we went from wide open (zoning) to very narrow; and we did it without seeking feedback to those affected. I agree we need zoning and code enforcement and doing things right … my argument is we didn’t implement it correctly,” said Jackson. Jackson said the agricultural zoning change affects 9,000 acres in town limits.
“If you are going to allow a traditional home and cattle barns (on Agriculturally zoned land), I don’t understand the difference between that and a mobile home. Now, the way our zoning is, you can put a mobile home on Main Street, and I figured that would be a bigger issue,” said Jackson.
Mayor White said addressing zoning and planning concerns for the Town is an ongoing issue. “Honestly, so many things in our code book have gone on as accurate, and then we have found out that it wasn’t accurate,” she said.
“I’m not saying we were not intentionally not transparent; it is an easier statement to make in hindsight. We could have done better,” said Jackson.
Both Jackson and Roach will leave the Board of Trustees after the April 2 election. Both trustees chose not to seek re-election. There are four candidates seeking the positions.
The Board of Adjustment meets on Monday, March 4 at 6 pm for its first meeting to organize and will have the public hearing at 6:30. The meeting is at Town Hall.
Meanwhile, The Town Board has hired a new Code Enforcement Officer. Actually the Town will share the position with the Town of Harrah for about 20 hours a week. The new Code Enforcement Officer will work on enforcing town codes ranging from fixing broken windows, to mowing tall grass, to removing yard debris and other issues involving dilapidated and abandoned houses throughout the Town. The officer will use methods of education, warnings and tickets to seek compliance. Details are yet to be worked out about fine schedules and parameters.