Zoning changes, council pay raise subjects of public hearings
The Bemidji City Council will hold public hearings Monday to give citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed changes to the city's industrial zoning code and an ordinance to increase the annual salaries for councilors and th...
The Bemidji City Council will hold public hearings Monday to give citizens the opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed changes to the city's industrial zoning code and an ordinance to increase the annual salaries for councilors and the mayor.
The council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Bemidji City Hall Council Chambers, 317 Fourth St. N.W. The public hearings are among several items on the agenda.
The proposed revision to the city industrial zoning code has been in the works for several months. Because the zoning code has not been revised since 1986, the council recommended last spring that the Bemidji Planning Commission and city staff look into making some changes that would better fit the council's goals for the community. In January, the Planning Commission approved a final draft of the amended zoning code and recommended that the council approve it.
Bemidji currently has three industrial districts - I-1 (industrial park), I-2 (light industry) and I-3 (heavy industry). Because they currently have many overlapping uses, the I-1 and I-2 districts would be consolidated into an industrial park/light industry zone under the proposed changes. The I-3 zone would become I-2, but would remain a heavy industry zone.
The current ordinance also includes a lengthy list of acceptable uses in each zone. While researching zoning ordinances in other Minnesota cities, Assistant City Planner Rita Albrecht found that most cities use broad categories to simplify the code and to allow more discretion as to which businesses are allowed, rather than including a list of all possible uses.
Under the proposed changes, each industrial district would be defined by broad categories. For example, the new draft includes approximately 20 permitted use categories for the I-1 district instead of the 102 specific uses currently listed in the code.
The proposed changes also include a provision that potentially allows industries into the industrial park that are not included in a specific category. This is designed to give the Planning Commission and City Council more discretion to look into business requests on a case-by-case basis.
The city has drafted a separate ordinance to rezone several existing parcels in the city. The Planning Commission recommended the rezoning to fit with the proposed zoning code changes and also to reevaluate the types of businesses that are permitted within the city. A public hearing will be held Monday on the rezoning proposal as well.
Another public hearing will be held Monday on the proposed raises for councilors and the mayor. Since 1982, City Council members have received an annual salary of $3,900 a year while the mayor has received $4,200. They have also received between $25-$100 per meeting -- depending on the length of the meeting -- aside from the two regular council meetings and two commission meetings that are required of councilors each month.
Under the proposed ordinance, councilors would receive $10,000 and the mayor $12,000 a year. The new policy would also eliminate the pay for additional meetings unless they are held out of town.
Other items on the agenda for Monday's meeting include several planning cases, the designation of a selection committee to review applications for a financial consultant for the Regional Events Center and bird flu report from Beltrami County Emergency Management Director Beryl Wernberg.