10/21/12 — Fremont board looks at zoning

View Archive

Fremont board looks at zoning

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 21, 2012 1:50 AM

FREMONT -- The Fremont Town Board Tuesday night came within a single vote of altering the accepted uses of land zoned as R6 residential to include food stands, but Mayor Darron Flowers' tiebreaking vote sent the matter back to the town's planning board where a new zoning code will be considered.

Danny Wooten submitted a request to allow him to operate Tasty's Ice Cream Hot Dog at 402 S. Sycamore St., which is zoned as residential and would not permit a food stand to be based there.

The Planning Board considered including food stands as an acceptable conditional use for property zoned R6, which would potentially allow food stands to be set up on any R6 property with the proper permit.

The Planning Board suggested town board members deny the amendment to the residential zoning uses and to create a new neighborhood or community business zone which would allow for businesses of that type.

One person spoke during the public hearing, saying that Wooten should be allowed to proceed with his business in the interest of attracting new investment in Fremont.

Following more discussion about the perks of creating a new zoning code, Board Member Annie Lewis moved to approve the amendment to the residential district to allow for food stands. Board Member Al Lewis seconded the motion.

During the discussion Town Manager Kerry McDuffie explained that the situation had been explained to Wooten, the applicant, and that he didn't mind having the change to the zoning code and his request for a permit denied, since the alternative would be about a two-month delay while a new, more appropriate zoning code was being prepared.

Still, the vote showed the board was split 3-3 on the matter, with board member Joyce Reid joining Lewis and Mrs. Lewis in approval of the motion.

Flowers, who votes only in the case of a tie, voted against the measure and it was defeated.

The mayor would need to settle another tie when the board considered a nuisance ordinance that would make it a violation to discharge lawn clippings or other debris into the street.

Mayor Pro Tem Harold Cuddington again made a motion to approve the measure, just as he did at the town board meeting in September where the motion died on the floor for lack of a second.

This time, however, Al Lewis provided that second and the measure was put to a vote, even as Mooring once more said the entire ordinance seemed to be based on a quarrel between two neighbors.

Flowers raised the question of enforcement.

"It (the ordinance) may have good intent, but I wonder how it would be managed," he said.

The ordinance would be enforced by the police force, but members of the board discussed how residents could be found in violation of it unless officers witnessed them in the act.

Board Member W.T. Smith asked if there could be a reminder printed on the town's utility bills asking that residents not dump their clippings into the street and McDuffie said it could be included on the town newsletter.

Annie Lewis said she had reservations about the steep penalty, which she understood to be a fine of $10.99.

The verbiage she was referring to, however, was a reference to the town's penalty policy, under Chapter 10 of the code. That, McDuffie explained, would make violators subject to a $50 fine.

Cuddington, Al Lewis and Mrs. Reid voted in favor of the ordinance, splitting the board once more. Flowers voted against the measure, and it was defeated.

The board reached consensus on another action item, however, which explained that the state had found trace amounts of chemicals in the swamp area southwest of the town's lagoons.

To repair the system, which directly affects the town's ability to use its sprayfield, would cost $1 million.

McDuffie explained that besides paying for the repair immediately or discontinuing use of the sprayfield, the state offered an order by consent that would allow the town to perform the repairs in phases, thereby buying extra time to search for grant money.

The order by consent was adopted 6-0.

Other items approved during the board meeting included:

* An ordinance making it easier for the town to fine chronic violators of nuisance ordinances by classifying repeat offenders across fiscal years

* The cutting of trees on Milford Lane which were deemed to have a possible impact on power lines nearby. The motion was approved 4-2 with Al Lewis and Annie Lewis dissenting.