Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/1179672

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 28, 2014

Council revises ordinance

By David Hotle | May 08, 2014

A complaint from a resident during Tuesday’s regular meeting caused the Washington City Council to rethink some of the wording in the proposed ordinance regarding temporary encroachments on right of way.
While the ordinance was up for first reading Tuesday, the council opted to go through the ordinance and change some of the wording before voting on it. The first reading will be held during the council’s May 20 meeting. During the public comment section of the meeting, resident Richard Gilmore, who recently purchased a building in downtown Washington, objected to the requirement to get a permit for any building renovation being done.
“Anything I do to the back of the building I am going to be in the alley,” Gilmore said. “The way I read the ordinance is that anything I do is going to require — if I am in the alley blocking traffic — the architectural drawing, the site plan and everything else.”
Gilmore said that he planned to install a back door in the alley. He said that doing an architectural drawing would be more expensive than installing the door. He also questioned the need for a permit for small projects.  He said that doing normal renovations that should happen to buildings would require a permit. He encouraged the council to consider the wording of the ordinance.
Council member Bob Shepherd said that the ordinance is geared for a project that would block an alley for longer than a day.
“I think what we are looking at — not what you are talking about – regular everyday maintenance,” he said. “We are looking at potential abuse from the standpoint that somebody loses four or five parking spaces for a long period of time. If it is going to be a long period of time, you should be able to plan for it.”
Shepherd also said the ordinance called for a site plan, which owners can draw themselves. Gilmore objected to the requirement for the listing of all manholes and lights on the plan. Shepherd said that the requirement is because the city needs to know if a machine is blocking a manhole or an alley and how to remove it in case of an emergency.
During discussion of the ordinance, the council reviewed the requirement to inform everyone for 200 yards, lessening the distance. Many other sections of the ordinance were changed.
Gilmore also commented on the city’s 175th anniversary celebration cutting off parking near his building. He said the council should consider that people live and park downtown.
Council member Bob Shellmyer said that the city does not close streets and parking for no reason. He said the council does it to make Washington a better place. The 175th committee said they plan to give letters to all downtown residents to keep them informed of the plans for the week.

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