April 13, 2016

Projecting fewer variances after district code changes

By Kate Johnson

Beulah’s city planning and zoning commission hopes that, with District Code changes, they will have fewer variance requests. Recently the planning and zoning commission was presented housing plans for a home to be built in Barton Estates, which is located on the north side of Beulah.
This was a topic the commission has listened to many times before: the owners were looking for a variance. Under the current district code, homes can be built up to 25 percent of the lot. However, many different times residents have come forward asking for a variance – allowing them a greater percentage to build to. This scenario arose again with Rod and Paula Schaper, whose house had been built to 28 percent, 3 percent greater than the district code.
Because of the never-ending flow of variances issued for this topic, the commission looked to the district code to make more permanent changes, hoping to put an end to the variance requests. The draft district code that is near completion reads that homeowners can build to 30 percent of the lot.
“Talking with P and Z throughout this process, it’s kind of why they have gone with this 30 percent -- to get rid of this variance, just ‘cause we had a variance every time we turned around,” says Russ Duppong, city coordinator.
With the 5 percent change in the new district code, Duppong mentioned they will not be giving variances in the future.
However, the new district code has yet to go through its final stages of approval. Although hopeful of its approval, there is a chance the 30 percent may not be accomplished.
Nonetheless, the committee that reviewed the district codes spoke with engineers and storm water professionals.
“If we go to 30 [percent], the adverse effect … there is a little buffer in there,” says Duppong, noting he hopes the district code and its changes will go through their approvals within the next two months.
Duppong also mentioned the difficulty of variances in the instance of flood zones, due to the state requirement to not increase any storm water into the flood ways.
“You’re required by the state to review your storm water, and you’re not supposed to increase any storm water into any water way because the water way could be a flood way, to which a flood way could increase property value taxes,” says Duppong.
Rod Schaper made this realization by mentioning Dickinson and its new housing developments all have storm water ponds.

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