After four drafts, Ordinance 2014-12-03, amending appendix B of the City Code of Warsaw, the zoning ordinance, was approved on the first reading Monday evening during the Warsaw Common Council meeting. The second reading will take place at the Dec. 15 meeting.
Tim Dombrosky, assistant planner, presented the ordinance highlighting the changes in the three areas of vision and clearance, fences and accessory structures. Discussion followed the presentation not only from council members and the general public.
A draft of the ordinance is available at http://www.warsaw.in.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1274
The amendment stemmed from numerous cases of the same requests coming before the board of zoning and an effort to make the ordinance more residential friendly and less restrictive. Under vision and clearance: changes included setbacks being measured from the street or alley instead of the property line, a clear zone increase from 6 feet to 8 feet high, an exception for utility poles, supports and tree trunks and removal of discrepancies in the ordinance.
Three sections were added to the section 13.5 regarding fences: easements to relieve the city of responsibility of protecting private easements, better definition of how fence height is calculated and a cross reference. Also a change in fence height restrictions was made from 6 feet to 4 feet and limiting fence type.
Final changes were to the accessory structures section: changing how a structure size is regulated from flat limits to scaling limits, allowing larger structures on larger lots; restricting accessory buildings to the back yard and clarified setbacks and allowing some types of front porches, wheelchair ramps and steps closer to the front property line.
Comments were heard from councilmen Jeff Gross and Mike Klondaris who stressed the changes are less restrictive.
Resident Ann Bonowitz expressed concern regarding restrictions of decorative fencing in front yards. “Who is to say what is pretty and what is not.” She stated some residents have animals that require a chain link fence to keep them on the property.
Bruce Woodward, along with Jerry Frush, councilman, questioned the change in the accessory structures, expressing concern over open porches obstructing views of neighbors and from being enclosed. Concern over ramps extending beyond the boundaries were also expressed.
Skinner stressed, on several occasions, the ordinance would handled 95 percent of the issues, with the remaining 5 percent still having the option to appear before the BZA for variances.
During other matters Jeff Beeler, superintendent of public works, was given approval to transfer $54,000 from several funds into the street machinery and equipment fund to replace the 1989 semi tractor purchased in 1996. He stated the semi is no longer safe to drive. He is hoping to find a used replacement. The semi is used for multiple purposes for the street department.
Unsatisfactory work repairing railroad crossings were once again a topic of discussion. Beeler noted the Ranch Road crossing was not repaired, by the railroad, to the town’s satisfaction. “We are doing everything in our power to get it rectified,” stated Mayor Joseph M. Thallemer. Due to weather conditions, the work will be readdressed with Norfolk Southern. “They will keep coming back until they get it right,” said Beeler.