New Melle P&Z Public Hearing: Adding Fencing between Residential, Commercial Properties

By Dianne Sudbrock

The New Melle Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a Public Hearing and Regular Meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 8 W. Hwy. D, New Melle at 7 p.m.

The Public Hearing is regarding a proposed change to the screening requirements between commercial and residential properties. Current regulations require a 20-foot wide screening of trees/shrubs; or a 15-foot wide screening with a solid fence plus trees/shrubs.

The proposed new rules call for a 15-foot wide screening that includes a "continuous solid fence or masonry wall or equivalent landscaped berm to a height adequate to prevent the direct light from automobile headlights being cast on adjacent residential units but with a minimum height of six feet and not more than 8 feet." The height is reduced to 3-1/2 feet within 15 feet of a public right-of-way.

There are opponents who say the requirement for the fence is an unnecessary and expensive addition that will deter small business investment in the community. Proponents say the change will help prevent negative impacts on neighboring residential properties.

The proposed ordinance makes no distinctions among the three commercial zoning districts. Therefore, a small, low impact business such as a professional office or hair salon would have the same buffering requirements as a business in the C-3 Highway Commercial zoning category, which generally includes businesses with more truck traffic, such as a retail feed store, general contractor, or lawn/landscaping service.

The new requirements, if approved by P&Z and the Board of Aldermen, would only apply to new commercial developments that abut residential properties, or new structures/additions on existing commercial properties that abut residential property.

Other items listed on the preliminary agenda included Open Forum, Building Permit Status for 3616 Schutzen Street and 227 Fiddlecreek Ridge, and reports on any new Rezoning Requests or Code Enforcement items.