Peabody council members accepted a recommendation made by Peabody City Planning and Zoning Committee and City Administrator Mac Manning Monday night when they approved changes to zoning regulations governing the use of buildings in the downtown area.
A public hearing on the topic was held Sept. 14. After hearing from local citizens and business owners, the planning and zoning committee approved the changes and referred the matter to city council for final acceptance.
Manning explained the changes to council members.
“Any retail business can use a part of its building space for storage,” he said. “The changes to the ordinance do not restrict that. It is not meant to be punitive.
“Current businesses such as Baker’s carpet warehouse are protected. While the warehouse is not specifically a retail business, it is associated with retail business in Baker’s other downtown buildings. It can be used for storing carpet and supplies associated with their business under the ‘legal non-conforming use’ exception.”
Manning noted, however, that if the building changes owners, the new owner could not use it for storage or a warehouse.
“At that point, it is no longer OK for it to be used as storage,” he said.
Councilman Tom Schmidt added, “We want our downtown to be a viable retail entity, not a storage entity. Retail business is good for our sales tax revenue. Warehousing adds nothing and encourages building owners to allow buildings to deteriorate.”
The council approved the new zoning regulations. Jimmy Philpott was absent.
In other business:
- The 2009 Uniform Public Offense Code was approved as presented and the Standard Traffic Code was approved with minor changes to parking regulations.
- Swimming pool manager Beth Peter presented a year-end report. For next year the council directed Peter to use her own discretion on issues of closing the pool because of weather or lack of patrons, agreed to install benches, trim the tree on the west side, and paint the structure before re-opening in 2010.
- The pool and park committee agreed to meet before spring to establish a policy regarding pay for lifeguards willing to become certified as a water safety instructor.
- Bids to update and host the city’s Web site were opened from Heartland Technology Solutions of Newton and Western Associates of Marion. The bids will be passed on to Peabody Economic Development Committee for recommendation.
- Manning reported that new flood maps are in with few changes.
- Manning asked for a meeting with the finance committee to review upcoming purchase requests that will come from the sewer and water funds.
- Progress is being made at the new city shop. For security, the police department’s front office will be closed from the public area with a window for access to the court clerk or chief of police. Officers hope to be in the new office by March.
- Public works director Darren Pickens presented a bid for new lift station controls. Because of a switch to a digital system, the lift station is in a precarious position with no signal function to alert employees to a problem. The council approved $2,522 for the new system.
- Pickens’ request for a new generator for the new city shop, which would make the building operational as a command center and shelter in case of another ice storm similar to the one in 2005, was tabled until the finance committee can meet next week. A generator will be on an agenda in October.
- Pickens also requested a valve exerciser to open and close water valves and keep them operational. The cost of the exerciser is $6,000. The city of Hillsboro is willing to let Peabody public works employees use its valve exerciser. At the request of the council, Manning prepared an inter-governmental agreement with Hillsboro to use its equipment in the near future.
- An expenditure of $639 was approved to apply a tinting and protective coating to the windows in the new city shop. The tinting material is shatterproof and deflects heat from the sun.
- Pickens told council members the Fifth Street bridge project is ready to go when a concrete culvert is ready.
- Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke and Health and Safety Officer Tammy Whiteside each gave reports of monthly activities for their departments.