Peripheral zoning up for debate at Cape Girardeau City Council meeting

Sunday, October 3, 2010
Mike Ingram stands next to a cul-de-sac in the Whispering Oaks subdivision where he lives. He and other residents are opposed to the nearby duplexes that are under construction in the neighborhood. (Fred Lynch)

It's not that Mike Ingram doesn't think he won't like his new neighbors. He just doesn't want them driving on his roads.

He and the others in the two neighboring subdivisions own the roads in Whispering Oaks and the Meadows at Whispering Oaks as dues-paying members of the homeowner associations.

They pay for their upkeep, snow and ice removal and repaving with $550 a year in annual dues.

Not only do duplexes mean more traffic, Ingram said, since it's technically a separate subdivision, the people in the duplexes wouldn't pay association dues.

"I'm concerned, as are others in the subdivision, about a development that we really had no say in," said Ingram, who lives off County Road 620 in north Cape Girardeau. "We just don't want the traffic volume, especially by people who wouldn't share in the cost of upkeep."

Cape Girardeau City Council member Mark Lanzotti said the Whispering Oaks situation provides a "spot on" example of why peripheral zoning around Cape Girardeau is needed.

"It's been a primary goal of mine since coming on the council," Lanzotti said. "So I asked staff to draft a proposed ordinance and I provided some input."

The item is on the council's agenda for discussion at its meeting Monday night, as well as a resolution instructing city manager Scott Meyer to send the Cape Girardeau County Commission a prepared draft of information regarding peripheral zoning and asking it to take action.

Cape Girardeau would be the first city in the state to take advantage of Missouri's zoning law that would allow it to control what is built outside its borders.

The statute allows any charter city with a population in excess of 35,000 to adopt and enforce peripheral zoning, as long as it's in a first-class county. According to the 2000 census, Cape Girardeau has 35,349 residents.

The county commission would have to approve peripheral zoning before the city could enact and enforce it.

'A little early'

Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones says he's not sold on the idea.

"It's a little early," he said. "We've got to study this quite a bit. So we're not going to jump in without taking a close look."

The county has no planning and zoning, and Jones pointed out that voters 10 years ago defeated a planning and zoning ballot measure by a margin of 19,212 to 8,670.

When asked if he was skeptical about peripheral zoning, Jones said, "that's a mild way of putting it."

But Jones said he's not necessarily opposed to it.

"I just know that when we had a logical, sensible, detailed planning and zoning issue on the ballot, it went down by 71 percent," he said. "We had people screaming and hollering and telling us not to tell them what to do."

But Lanzotti said it's time to move forward on peripheral zoning. Lanzotti notes that Cape Girardeau County is the only first-class county that doesn't have planning and zoning, but he stresses peripheral zoning is not an attempt to implement countywide standards.

He also said the peripheral zoning would be overridden if the county ever does adopt planning and zoning. That leaves the county with nothing to fear, he said.

"The time for waiting is over, and it's time to act on this because it is good government," he said.

According to an ordinance drafted by city staff, peripheral zoning would apply within a two-mile area extending from the city's limits. The new zone would become exclusively an agricultural district, though existing uses would naturally be grandfathered in, Lanzotti said.

"This really allows the ability to have a dialogue over someone's intended use and how it may not only impact the neighbors, but how it may impact the city of Cape Girardeau's ultimate planning," Lanzotti said.

The agricultural zone, technically AG-1, is a less restrictive designation, allowing farming, single-family houses and small businesses, Lanzotti said. Other permitted use in AG-1 include -- but aren't limited to -- orchards, police and fire stations, bed and breakfasts, golf courses, nurseries and greenhouses, wineries and public parks.

"I think the AG-1 zoning classification is the best zoning classification we have in our current arsenal of the zoning code that fits the most uses that are already occurring in the peripheral area," he said. "It gives those people a right to continue those uses."

But if something new were proposed in the zone or a change to an existing use was attempted, it could kick in a review process just as it is done in the city, which requires the proposal to go before the city's Planning and Zoning Commission to make a recommendation and then on to the council for final approval or rejection.

It would also allow residents, such as in the Whispering Oaks situation, the opportunity to voice their opinion at the city council's public hearings.

"If peripheral planning were in place a few years ago," Lanzotti said, "the city of Cape Girardeau would have some jurisdiction over the change in zoning that would have been needed. Peripheral zoning allows residents to have a say where there may be impacts and changes in use."


Pertinent address:

401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO

County Road 620 in Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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