Roger Sims, Journal Staff
Parker council votes to reinstate planning and zoning board
Updated: Feb 24
PARKER – Fourteen months after the Parker City Council passed a resolution that abolished the city’s planning and zoning board, the council last Thursday, Feb. 16, voted to reinstate the commission on a split 3-1 vote. Councilman Jerry Summers, who voted in December 2021 to abolish the board, voted against its reinstatement at Thursday’s special meeting.
City Attorney Burton Harding said he would draft a resolution to reinstate the board for the council to consider at its March 9 meeting.
The seven-member planning and zoning board was abolished in 2021 because the seven seats on the board had gone unfilled for several years. The council intended to take over the function of the planning and zoning board at that time, but there was concern that it could create a conflict of interest.
There was some question at Thursday’s meeting about the number of people on the revived board. City Clerk Carrie Sewell said the previous board had seven members.
Two of those members were supposed to be from outside city limits but within a 3-mile “growth area.” More than two decades ago, the council looked at creating an extra-territorial agreement with the Linn County Commission that would give city zoning control of up to 3 miles outside its borders.
However, no agreement between the county and the city was ever finalized, and the two members from outside city limits would likely be unnecessary.
The decision to reinstate the planning and zoning board came after the council considered a request by Taylor Chapman and Julie Hurlock for a zoning change for property at 412 W. Kimball St., which is across the street from the Parker Senior Center.
The couple have been planning to open up an automotive repair shop behind the house at that address. They have already built a large shop building for that purpose.
In January, Hurlock said they planned for customers to access the shop from an alley that ran behind the property. However, they since demolished a shed in the yard and laid down gravel for a driveway from the street. There was some concern that the building was not set back far enough from the alley, but Hurlock said they were careful to follow city codes.
“We followed all the rules that were given when we got our building permit,” she said.
However, Sewell said the property is an area zoned for mobile homes, and an automotive repair shop would need to be in a district zoned for commercial or industrial.
Hurlock countered that there were numerous residences in the town that are in district zoned for commercial.
Councilman Jason Webber said the houses were in the commercial district before it was zoned for commercial use.
Harding suggested that the couple and the city consider an application for a conditional-use permit instead of rezoning the property. He said that would allow the requested use but it would also give the city the opportunity to impose restrictions on issues like parking.
He also said it would require a public hearing that would allow neighbors to weigh in on the new business.
Webber said he believed the issue should go before a planning board and made the motion to reinstate it.
The council also took up the issue of remodeling a one-story brick building it purchased from the Parker Library board to be a new city hall. However, a leaky roof, the likelihood of black mold in walls, and a rough estimate of $50,000 to $70,000 to rehabilitate the former filling station has the council looking at alternatives.
Webber said it would be cheaper to add on to the city barn, which is about 50 yards away, or tear down the structure on the northeast corner of Center and Main streets and rebuild.
The council also voted to spend $750 for a firearm and a protective plate for body armor for Cody Kiser, who was recently hired to be a part-time police officer for the city.
Kiser told the council that he was working on a new patch for the police department that included a drawing of a panther, the mascot of the former Parker Rural High School.
The council discussed purchasing a new mosquito sprayer. Sewell said the city’s old sprayer was inoperable and that the city borrowed the city of Greeley’s sprayer last year for Parker Days.
But Webber said that the city needs a program that sprays on a regular basis, not just once or twice a year.