Thursday, February 07, 2013
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City approves zoning changes for new developments: pet cemetery and Plowfield Square rental housing

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[February 07, 2013]  At the Monday evening voting session of the Lincoln City Council, aldermen unanimously approved zoning changes that would pave the way for two new property developments: the Humane Society of Logan County Pet Cemetery and the Plowfield housing development.

On Jan. 29, the city's building and safety and code officer, John Lebegue, offered a report from the Lincoln Planning Commission, along with their recommendations for approving requests made by HSLC and Brinshore Development.

Pet cemetery

Lebegue told the council that for the type of land-use to create a pet cemetery, there had to be a hearing by the planning commission. The commission heard the request from the HSLC on Jan. 17.

In researching city code, it was discovered that for the city to approve the planning commission's recommendation to allow the cemetery, a change would have to be made in the city code.

The code applied to limiting the number of cemeteries allowed within the city of Lincoln. Lebegue said the code specified exceptions, and the pet cemetery would have to be added to those exceptions.

Lebegue said his understanding was that the HSLC would sell plots to individuals. He said one complication would be to figure out how those plots should be subdivided.

Marilyn Wheat of the HSLC was on hand at the Tuesday evening council meeting, along with several other representatives of the organization. Wheat took the podium to field questions from the council.

Mayor Keith Snyder asked her to explain how the cemetery would be developed. Wheat said the land, which is connected to the HSLC shelter, would be divided into sections, with the first section to be filled being labeled as C1. She said there would be 600 2-by-3-foot plots, a chapel and a storage building on the property.

She told the council that the plots would not actually be sold. The HSLC will maintain ownership of all the property and will offer "forever leases" to those who wish to lay their pets to rest.

She said the HSLC will also sell urns and plaques, with all the profits going to support the animal shelter.

David Armbrust asked her to verify that all the burials will be for cremation remains only, and Wheat said that was correct. She added that all the veterinary services in Lincoln provide cremation.

Plowfield Square

On Jan. 17 the commission also reviewed documents from Brinshore for the development of Plowfield Square. Lebegue said the documentation handed to the commission was very well laid out and well received by the commission.

Lebegue said that in the development there will be three building types or styles so that the area will have interest and be attractive.

He said the development was what he would call "workforce" housing, designed for the working-class family.

He also said the homes were not typical condo style, but rather fell in the class of townhomes. He noted there would be six one-bedroom units, 20 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom units.

Lebegue said the development was also a community style with wide-open spaces, room for outdoor living, a community center with gathering space and a kitchen, playground, and even a space for a community garden. He also noted there would be a full-time property manager on-site and a maintenance crew.

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Marty Neitzel wondered what the rent costs would be, and Lebegue said he didn't have that information. Neitzel then asked if it was federal housing. Lebegue said it was more independent housing. He said there was a threshold of income that residents would have to meet. He said there was also going to be a fairly rigorous review before they are allowed to lease, to be sure they could afford to live there.

He also noted there were some subsidies involved, but he thought that was more for the development stages than for the rent. City engineer Darren Forgy said he, too, was of the understanding that the subsidy was for the development and not necessarily for the rent.

Jonie Tibbs questioned the code change. She said that the property was currently coded as "I" or industrial. The change would be to an "R-3."

The definition of an R-3 is:

The residential planned unit development district is an optional zoning district which permits developers freedom in the design, layout and use of building types on any parcel of land of five (5) acres or more in size; where the developer agrees to develop the property in accordance with a specific site plan; and where the submission of the zoning request is processed simultaneously with the request for subdivision of the property.

Such developments may consist of individual lots, and/or common building sites and may permit the mixture of building types. Common open space reservation or dedication for recreational, aesthetic or buffering purposes shall be considered an essential and major element of the plan. In certain cases where the corporate authorities of the city deem it appropriate to the proper development of the project, commercial and office facilities may be integrated into the plan.

Tibbs noted R-3 is not as restrictive as an R-1 or R-2. Lebegue confirmed that the R-3 was less restrictive for the developer and would allow them the ability to place structures as they have them laid out in the plat.

On Monday evening prior to voting, the plat (click here for PDF version) was provided to the council for them to see how the development will lay out. Brinshore's local representation, Andrew P. Affrunti of Gehlbach Law Offices, was also on hand to field questions, though none were asked.

When the item came to a vote, all eight aldermen present voted in favor of the zoning changes. Aldermen David Armbrust and David Wilmert were absent for the evening. In addition Mayor Keith Snyder was absent due to the death of his father-in-law. Melody Anderson served as mayor pro tem for the voting session.


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