Peripheral rules proposal for Cape inches forward

Wednesday, April 16, 2008
KIT DOYLE ~ Construction continued on the Walden Park apartment complex Tuesday, January 22, 2008, just north of Cape Girardeau city limits on Highway W.

If Cape Girardeau pursues peripheral zoning, it will be on a limited basis. It will be more planning than zoning.

That's the gist of what Charlie Haubold, the city's planning and zoning advisory board chairman, said during a city council study session Tuesday night.

The city council primarily reviewed the comprehensive plan, which calls for peripheral zoning, as well as transportation projects, business development and beautification initiatives.

Haubold presented a letter, which will be formally reviewed at Monday's council meeting, with details.

The letter, endorsed at the planning commission's meeting last week, has "peripheral planning" in the subject line and recommends the city adopt an ordinance. The commission recommends "these peripheral regulations should only apply to subdivisions of more than four lots which include public improvements."

"We're not trying to start anything new," Haubold told the city council Tuesday. "We just need to make sure we're doing good with what we have."

Though the state allows cities as large as Cape Girardeau in first-class counties to pursue regulations in areas up to two miles from city limits, the county commission would have to approve such a move.

Haubold made it clear that the planning proposal is intended to protect the city from expensive repair projects on substandard streets, sewer and water lines in annexed neighborhoods.

"It could be a mile, a mile and a quarter, a mile and a half. There is a lot of work we have to do," he said. The planning board wants to map the areas under consideration before the city council votes on an ordinance. No specific timeline was mentioned, but planning commissioners have consistently said they would like the matter decided this year. Haubold said with subdivisions already under construction that will likely apply for friendly annexation and many more on the drawing board, it is imperative the city have a planning tool.

Haubold said the letter had been altered to include language suggested from concerned county residents, such as the four-lot limit.

City officials have met with Jackson planners and county commissioners to answer questions. Ken Eftink, the city's director of development services, and city planner Martha Brown will appear at Monday's county commission meeting, Eftink said.

Historically county residents have opposed any kind of zoning rules, but the city has been addressing individual concerns.

Mayor Jay Knudtson said the city could quell concerns if "you don't slam it down someone's throat" and the plan presents "something that's reasonable and responsible and a basic form of planning."

Much of Tuesday's informal study session was devoted to moving the comprehensive plan forward. The plan's steering committee created a seven-page list of action items for the council. Transportation plays a major role in the plan. Haubold told the board that Harry Rediger is leading a committee to develop a campaign for the next Transportation Trust Fund (TTF) campaign. An election on the tax would likely be in August 2010, according to Rediger.

"We like the TTF. The TTF has been the best thing to ever happen to the city as far as I'm concerned," Haubold said.

Since 1995, voters have repeatedly approved the five-year, half-cent sales tax, which is dedicated to specific transportation projects.

Tim Arbeiter, vice president of community development at the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce, told council members plans are underway to develop a quality of life index. The index, he said, will be a report card that measures living conditions in the city. He said. AmerenUE has volunteered to create a graph tracking the index that the city can put on its Web site.

Arbeiter said he was in the process of developing a community development corporation, a group that would help low- to moderate-income neighborhoods develop small businesses.

Finally, the council discussed action with the Keep Southeast Missouri Beautiful campaign. Arbeiter said he'd been working to get Jackson and Scott City officials to coordinate cleanup efforts with Cape Girardeau.

Councilwoman Debra Tracy suggested the city consider a more active program to recycle plastic bags or a plastic bag ban. She said some stores offer reusable totes, some of which are made from recycled plastic bags.

Schneider said she would like to see a reduction of Styrofoam litter.

"When you keep it clean, people are more reluctant to litter," she said.

335-6611, extension 127

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