The Mitchell Planning Commission unanimously denied recommending a plan from Puetz Corporation on Monday to install a new parking lot between the company's headquarters and a residential area.
The plan-which drew backlash when first presented to the commission on April 22-was revised prior to Monday's meeting, with company CEO Mark Puetz eliminating his plan to use part of the lot for crane storage near the company's 800 N. Kimball St. location. The decision was made Monday at Mitchell City Hall. Commission member Kevin Genzlinger did not participate in the discussion, citing a conflict of interest.
The Planning Commission's vote is non-binding.
"After hearing all of the concerns at the last commission meeting, I decided to completely eliminate the crane storage and fenced-in area," Puetz said of his new plan, noting it would be used solely for employee and customer parking. "The revised plan for the entrance and exit would be changed, so that they would be off of Kimball Street."
During the April 22 planning commission meeting, questions arose regarding the zoning district classification of the now empty lot where the proposed parking lot was to be constructed.
City Attorney Justin Johnson said the parking lot is in an R2 zone, which is a single-family residential zoning district. However, Puetz' current building location adjacent to the proposed parking lot used to be zoned in a TWC zoning district, which is a commercial district that allows for a construction business such as Puetz Corporation.
According to Johnson, the city's zoning ordinance code for R2 districts allows conditional use permits for accessory uses. But Johnson said a parking lot is not among the items that is considered an accessory use.
"The problem with trying to call an accessory use, is that in residential districts accessory uses are limited to certain things like garages, garden houses, but a parking lot is not among those items listed as an accessory use in an R2 District," Johnson said.
Based on Johnson's findings, he said the parking lot would not be permitted under the city's current zoning ordinance code and would encroach into a residential district.
"I don't think Puetz has the authority to do what they're requesting the way our code sits right now," Johnson said. "I think they would have to request for the property to be re-zoned or for the ordinance to be changed."
Mitzie Johnson, a Mitchell resident whose mother lives at 322 E. Ninth Ave., voiced her opposition to the parking lot proposal and said it would allow a commercial zoning district to encroach a residential district.
"There is a city parking lot across the street from the Puetz building, and it is a large parking lot, so why do you need more parking?" Mitzie Johnson asked Puetz. "This is a residential neighborhood, and there has to be some separation from this residential area to industrial and commercial areas. The homes were there first."
In response, Puetz said he feels the parking lot would increase the property values of homes in the area.
"We sat and looked at a nuisance property for years where the parking lot would be built, and I think this would better everyone's property values," Puetz said.
Elnora Breck, a resident living near the proposed parking lot, acknowledged the recent revision but stood firm in her opposition to the parking lot proposal.
"I just feel that this is not necessary, and my home is all I have," Breck said. "I also don't believe a parking lot for a construction company improves the value of my home."
After learning about the details regarding the zoning classifications in Puetz' existing location and the proposed parking lot, commission member Jon Osterloo said his primary focus is protecting the residential area.
"This shouldn't have even been brought to our table after learning the details of the zoning classifications," Osterloo said. "We have to protect our residential people, and that lot could be used for Habitat for Humanity. It's not going to be a lot that just sits there."