Part of Monday’s Somerset Council meeting was taken by a discussion on zoning and annexation issues – specifically, whether the current zoning ordinance says all properties annexed by the city are being brought in as residential plots.
Somerset resident Monty Gover addressed the council, pointing out that the current wording of the zoning ordinance says that all annexed property “shall be considered in the R-1 Zone or District unless otherwise changed ...”
An R-1 zoned property is for single-family dwellings.
To change a zoned property, whether it is annexed or not, requires it to go through a multi-step process that includes a public hearing through the Planning and Zoning Commission, and having the commission make a recommendation to the city council.
The question becomes whether, logistically or logically, should a business like a convenience store or gas station be considered as being on residential property unless the owners go through that full process.
The form for property owners to fill out when requesting to be annexed has a space for them to request which zone the property should be under – usually under residential, industrial or commercial zones.
According to Gover, despite that request, the zoning ordinance itself still clearly states all annexed properties are zoned R-1.
City Attorney John Adams said that, while the council should probably look at updating the wording of the ordinance, what it meant at the time it was written was that most properties taken in by the city would likely not already have a business sitting on them.
“The zoning ordinance, written 30 years ago, probably assumes newly annexed areas are unimproved land from farms. That is more the exception now than the norm, because of all the development around the city’s boundaries,” Adams said.
“Most of the properties we take in now, like the ones suggested in the meetings, are developed and have an obvious and non-residential use. Hence, we do not get land use or zoning complaints when we annex,” he said.
Meaning what those properties are to be used for, such as gas stations or funeral homes, are decided before the owners of those properties request them to be annexed into the city.
At the state level, Kentucky Revised Statutes 81A.412 states in part, “If the city has elected to establish the zoning for the new territory pursuant to KRS 100.209 prior to the completion of annexation … the ordinance annexing the territory shall include a map showing the zoning,” indicating that cities can indeed establish the property’s zone before annexation.
KRS also indicates that all annexations that have not been formally protested within two years are considered legally annexed.
In other annexation business, the council heard the second reading of the proposed annexation of property owned by the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA).
The SPEDA Commerce Park, formerly known as “the Garner Property,” is a 190-acre piece of land that the economic organization plans to develop over the next few years.
Council approved the request unanimously.
Mayor Alan Keck said the property is expected to bring growth and industry into the community, and the annexation allows Somerset to be a part of that.
The council also heard the first reading of an ordinance that would define Somerset’s boundary with the city of Ferguson in regards to the former 84 Lumber property.
Adams said the city purchased the property, but part of the land is listed as being within the city limits of Ferguson, and Somerset would like for the full property to be within Somerset.
Somerset’s ordinance is written in conjunction with a Ferguson ordinance. Adams said this was part of an attempt by both cities to clear up overlaps in the two cities’ boundaries.