Batesville Planning Commission

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 5, 2010

Zoning issues aired by planning board

By John Howell Sr.

Batesville Planning Commission members at their monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 1, discussed a range of proposed city regulations governing everything from sexually-oriented businesses to the size of business signs sizes.

Commission members Willie King, Dave Billingsley, Barbara Bruce, Dick Corson, Billy Downs and Lou Verda Miles were joined by city planner Bob Barber, city code administrator Pam Comer, and assistant city attorney Colmon Mitchell as they continued to hone new city zoning regulations proposed for adoption by the mayor and board of aldermen later this year.

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 Barber described two new zoning districts included in the new zoning code proposal: a “planned community district” and a “mixed- use district,” describing the latter as “… on the order of a Harbor Town development in Memphis.”

Commissioners also addressed “home occupations.” Billingsley described past problems with construction contractors who parked machinery in their yards and claimed exemption from zoning regulations because that fit into a home occupation exemption. The new regulations will require that home occupations “have no adverse impact on neighborhoods,” Barber said.

A zoning classification for “sexually-oriented businesses” is needed because, “the city cannot tell them they cannot be here,” the attorney explained. With the zoning provision the city can tell the owner, “You’ve got to play by our rules,” Mitchell added. Under the new zoning codes, a sexually-oriented business seeking to open in Batesville would only be allowed in industrial areas as a conditional use and would be required to be well-lighted, Barber said.

Commission chairman Corson continued to push for city zoning regulation of the Highway 6/278 bypass south of Batesville.

“Unless the land is annexed, we can’t do a thing,” Corson said. The city’s 2030 plan, which is driving the city’s zoning revisions, specifies a setback from the bypass of 300 feet with no building or signs. The setback would provide a “green space” on either side of the bypass, Barber said.

Mitchell asked for a definition of green space to be included in the new zoning code.

“We’ll define it,” Barber replied.

Other zoning changes under consideration:

•A built-in exception for “Interstate-oriented signs,” allowing them to extend to 75 feet;

•Requiring a $300 bond from political candidates who place signs on street rights-of-way. The bond would be refunded when the signs are removed following the election;

•Amortizing oversized signs currently used in the city to phase them out over a five-year period;

•A continued moratorium on the use of portable buildings on the current Highway 6/278 corridor from I-55 to Eureka Street; conditional use permits for portable buildings elsewhere;

•Additional redefinition of uses permitted for commercial property on the downtown square;

•Restriction of auto sales from roadside parking lots by individuals. “If they’re labeled ‘for sale,’ it has to be on your own property,” one commissioner said.