The Laramie City Council will be holding third readings of two ordinance changes during its regular meeting today, including one allowing building and fire code officials to issue citations for code violations and another to change the city zoning map to rezone a parcel of land on 15th Street, a topic council has had mixed feelings about during the first two readings.
Both Councilwoman Phoebe Stoner and Mayor Andi Summerville voted no on the Nov. 20 second reading of a measure allowing a parcel of land on the southwest corner of 15th Street and the future Bill Nye Avenue to be zoned general commercial (C2) instead of business (B2).
Since the property is close to a residential district, Stoner and Summerville expressed concerns during the first two readings with potential permittable uses within the C2 district, including a slaughterhouse as an example.
City Planning Manager Derek Teini said he wasn’t sure how the discussion would go during the third reading today, but after hearing the conversation around the potential uses in the previous meetings, it might be a good idea for the city to review and edit the allowable uses within each zone.
“I think there’s some legitimacy in maybe taking look at some of those uses in the future,” Teini said. “But that would be something we would want to do, and we would try to do, more comprehensively — looking at all the uses within our zoning and say, ‘Are we getting uses where we think they’re appropriate?’”
Stoner suggested during the second reading a conditional use permit might work as a better means to regulate potential uses for the parcel but admitted the months-long process to obtain one wasn’t ideal. Summerville said she was surprised the city could not approve multiple uses at a time with one conditional use permit.
“The idea of multi-use space is becoming very common,” Summerville said during the second reading. “I think the fact that we don’t have an ability in place to let them go through a conditional use permit process to approve a few uses at one time, that just seems unnecessarily bureaucratic.”
Teini said the city code is specific about uses within each zone for a reason, because going too broad could open potential misunderstandings about permitted uses.
“You want to be specific in the types of things you allow and the types of things that you do not allow,” Teini said. “Doing a blanket use-group approval is not a very good idea and maybe won’t stand up to legal challenges, to be honest.”
Building and Fire Code citations
The city’s Building and Fire Code officials will have more authority to issue citations if City Council votes to approve an ordinance in the third reading. The authority will allow officials to issue citations when the violation affects public safety, like overcrowded buildings, electrical issues or a business operating without the necessary permits and licenses.
“It allows us to address issues that we see immediately,” Teini said. “Often when we go into properties or into sites during building inspections, and we see issues, the ability to give a citation can actually get us a quicker resolution. Ultimately the idea is to provide a safer place for the citizens of Laramie.”
The first and second readings of the ordinance were passed unanimously by council, and during the time for public comment Nov. 20, Michael Sisneros, owner of Rocky Mountain Construction, said the measure would be a “benefit for all the citizens in Laramie” if passed.
Special event alcohol permit refunds
Time has been set aside during Tuesday’s City Council meeting for a public hearing regarding refunds for special event alcohol permits.
During the Nov. 20 meeting, City Clerk Nancy Bartholomew said Wyoming statute specifically forbids refunds for permits once they have been issued, but the new city ordinance will enable city staff to refund permits request fees for denied permits or work with the applicant to transfer the permit to another day if the event is canceled or postponed.