Comments from public lead to tweaking of new Cape development code

Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Cape Girardeau City Hall (Kit Doyle)

EDITOR'S NOTE: The last paragraph has been corrected to say that city staff WILL meet one-on-one with those with concerns.

Comments made at a public forum Monday night at city hall in Cape Girardeau will be used to fine-tune a proposed development code that will regulate fences, landscaping, signs and retaining walls.

Property owners, developers, engineers, business owners and residents attended the two-hour meeting, with Mayor Harry Rediger, city manager Scott Meyer, other city council members, city planners and members of the city's Planning and Zoning Commission on hand to discuss the new development code and answer questions.

"We really are not out to be intrusive with regulations in our city," Rediger said at the outset. "Quite the contrary, we don't want to be."

Still, some who attended the meeting were leery of the new rules, suggesting the language is vague and perhaps too restrictive and could inhibit economic growth by developers who find them too cost-prohibitive.

Scott Rhodes, owner of Plaza Tire, spoke specifically to a proposal in the new code that calls for 15 percent of all new developments to be made up of green space. That could add almost $100,000 to some developments, he said.

"I'm not against green space," he said. "But I feel 10 percent would be more reasonable. We're all for a good quality of life, but we want to be able to pay for it. We don't want potential new business to skip town and go somewhere else because of this."

The development code is the second part of an overhaul of the city's rules governing growth and land use. The first phase, a complete revision of the city's zoning ordinance, was approved by the council in early March.

The development code would be for new developments and would not affect existing properties, except those that are upgraded or redeveloped. The code would set limits for computer-controlled electronic, video or digital message signs. The signs could be no bigger than 50 square feet, would have time limits for animation messages and could only be so bright.

But Boyce Church, owner of Cape Auto Spa on North Kingshighway, said he wasn't sure the code as written was fair. He has a digital sign that has been outside of his business for more than a year.

"I've spent a lot of money on this for the city to come in and say I've got to control the time on my sign," he said. "I think it's a little ridiculous."

City staff members who drafted the code said digital signs can be distracting and cause accidents if not regulated.

The proposed rules would also require property owners to obtain permits before constructing new or replacement fences. A landscaping and buffer-yard provision would require a 10-foot-wide landscaped area between a street and any parking lot within 20 feet of a roadway.

If a property owner wants to build a retaining wall, the city would also require a permit if the wall is taller than 4 feet.

But the city's planning staff and members of the Planning and Zoning Commission will meet one-on-one with those who had concerns and work to address them, Meyer said. The code will be changed to address some of those changes and then be brought back before the council, he said.



Pertinent address:

401 Independence, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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