The Laramie City Council on Tuesday divided a proposed ordinance that would amend municipal code regarding downtown commercial zoning district regulations into two sections, delaying aspects perceived as more contentious among business owners.
The proposed amendments would cover building design and materials, maximum and minimum building heights, outdoor/temporary signs, transparency or window percentage, patio design and materials, rejecting sign size, and minimum building footprint and residential parking requirements.
Councilman Brian Harrington began Tuesday’s discussion on the matter by moving the proposed ordinance be divided by separating sections addressing signage and patio design from the rest of the measures.
The reason for dividing the proposed ordinance, Harrington said, was to separate less contentious elements from those that would require further exploration.
Those sections addressing signage and patio design were separated from the rest of the ordinance on 7-2 vote, with Councilman Charles McKinney and Councilwoman Jessica Stalder voting “no.” Those sections now move on to their second of three readings.
The council was less cohesive as to when the delayed sections of the ordinance should be addressed. The first motion to postpone set a date in April, but city associate planner Matt Cox noted that waiting until spring would mean the changes would have to wait for another construction season to pass.
“I would recommend moving to a date around January or so, so we can start the three readings, then be ready for site plans, new construction, anything that’s going to be applied for in spring and summer,” Cox told the council. “If we wait until spring, it’s going to wait a whole year before we can apply these to a new construction season.”
Councilwoman Jayne Pearce proposed moving the postponement to the first meeting of February, but councilman Paul Weaver pushed back, saying it wouldn’t be enough time to address the complexity of the issues at hand.
“I think early into next year might still be a situation where we may not be able to conduct the types of meetings we wish that we could,” Weaver said. “It could be that even April might not be an environment where we can do that. So shortening the amount of time we postpone this to meet a construction season schedule makes sense administratively, but I’m not sure if it makes sense for the environment we find ourselves operating in.”
Rob Harder, co-owner of NU2U and NU2U Sports, both in downtown, said he strongly agreed that the council should wait until April to readdress the remaining proposed changes.
“More time is better,” he said. “I don’t think we should worry about one building season changing things when we’re trying to do something good for the longevity of the town. I would appreciate more time, because I’m personally committing my time to hopefully make this as good as it can be for the city.”
The council ultimately voted 5-4 to postpone the matter until Feb. 2. Councilman Bryan Shuster, as well as Stalder, Weaver and McKinney voted “no.”