Another do-over for P & Z Commission
Toby Saiz, who recently bought three lots on JO Gallegos Road, wants to put mobile homes on them to use as rentals. He already owns a single-wide trailer and is ready to move it onto one of the properties. There’s just one problem: the land is zoned R-3, which means the minimum size requirement for a mobile home there is 24 by 36 feet. His single-wide doesn’t meet that requirement — most don’t.
Saiz’s solution was to apply for a zone change, requesting that the R-3 designation be changed to an R-4.
At the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing on the matter, three of the commissioners were absent. The other four couldn’t agree. After a tie vote, they sent the request up to the city council with no recommendation.
Zoning Officer Mike Czosnek presented the request, with copies of the minutes of the Planning and Zoning hearing, to the council on March 5.
Councilor Gordy Hicks moved immediately that the request go back to P & Z without being addressed by the council.
“I’m discouraged that it keeps coming to us as a tie. There was four present — that’s three plus the vice-chair,” Hicks said.
In the discussion that followed, Councilor Mike Olguin Jr. had a few questions.
“I’m noticing in the minutes one of the biggest concerns is the devaluing of property, but Commissioner (Christa) Hockensmith also moved to deny the request based on Criteria 6. Was any proof presented at the hearing?”
There are eight stated criteria in the zoning code for denying a zoning request: No. 6 is that granting the request would “impair the public health, safety or general welfare of the city.”
Czosnek said no evidence, such as a letter from a realtor regarding property values, had been presented. Czosnek also said if the request was approved, it would open up the neighborhood for a mobile home park and other R-4 approved uses.
“When you change the zone, you pick up every other use of that zone,” Czosnek said. “That might go beyond what this request intended.”
According to the 1991 zoning code, an R-3 zone “is intended to maintain and protect high density residential development that is characteristic of apartments, townhouses, condominiums and similar housing.” One and two family houses and manufactured homes are permitted. Mobile homes are allowed only conditionally, in approved mobile home subdivisions. Mobile home parks require a special use permit.
When it came to a vote, six members of the council were in favor of sending the issue back to Planning and Zoning for a second hearing. Councilor Donald Monette said he thought the decision could be made without a recommendation from Planning and Zoning, and Councilor Ernest Pargas wasn’t present.
City Clerk Pat Salome asked for clarification about what part of the process Planning and Zoning didn’t complete that was required.
“What are we going to tell them about why we’re sending it back?” Salome asked.
“Because it was barely a quorum and because that’s their specialty,” Hicks answered. “I want a recommendation.”
Czosnek said a second hearing on the matter by Planning and Zoning would have to be properly advertised, and because the next meeting had already been advertised, Saiz’s zone change request wouldn’t be heard again until Planning and Zoning’s April meeting.
According to the minutes of Planning and Zoning’s first hearing, three of Saiz’s new neighbors are protesting the zone change. One, Bruce Burnett, reportedly said he was concerned about lowered property values, and said the broken windows on a double-wide mobile home Saiz has placed on one of the lots are an eyesore. Another, Jennie Vigil, indicated she was also concerned about property values and was worried about increased traffic. A third, Ed Fratello, objected on the grounds of potentially decreased property value and additional traffic to the area.
Fratello also spoke at the city council meeting.
“If that was R-4 seven years ago, I wouldn’t have built my home there,” he said.
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