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Zoning amendment would increase garage door height for RV storage

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council will hold a public hearing June 3 on an ordinance amendment that would allow higher garage doors to accommodate tall recreational vehicles in residential areas.

The city Planning Commission is initiating the amendment to increase the height of a garage door from 10 feet to 12 feet, which is considered high enough to allow RVs with air conditioning units on top, but still low enough to keep commercial vehicles and equipment out.

The council Monday night voted to accept the Planning Commission's recommendation to hold the hearing.

Planning and Development Director Bruce Peterson said the Planning Commission has been discussing the issue of garage sizes, secondary storage building sizes and door heights.

"Our ordinance has been a little bit difficult to administer because we allow for a building that can house quite a large vehicle, but we've never provided the door height to enable it to happen,'' said Peterson.

He said the ordinance provides for two-story detached garages and he said several have been built over the years. But he said the 10-foot door height is inadequate to shield some RV trailers and motor homes from public view.

In other business, the council discussed issues with parking in the areas of Willmar Avenue and 11th Street Southeast, and Willmar Avenue and Fourth Street Southwest. Customers and visitors park on the streets near the intersections where busy institutions are located.

The parking issues were first raised at the May 14 Public Works/Safety Committee meeting. Police Chief David Wyffels said no safety issues have been identified at those locations.

Council member Audrey Nelsen said that visibility is sometimes a problem and asked if additional yellow curbing could be provided to keep vehicles back from the intersection.

Jim Dokken told council members that he had been contacted by 11th Street Southeast residents. He reminded the council that the Willmar Avenue speed limit is 40 mph and there is no crosswalk for people walking over to Bethesda Pleasant View. He asked why Bethesda does not provide adequate employee parking.

Nelsen said she called Bethesda, which she said has spoken with employees. Some are visitors and some are contract employees parking on 11th Street. She was sympathetic to residents' concerns but said the parking issue applies to other community facilities.

"For me the question is whether will we allow on-street parking, and I think that issue applies lots of places. I don't know that we can resolve and just say let's not have on-street parking either,'' she said.

In other business, Mayor Frank Yanish gave a $1,663 check, representing proceeds from the May 2 Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, to Community Education and Recreation Director Steve Brisendine.

Yanish said he promised the proceeds would go the department. The money will help youth who cannot afford the fees charged for education and recreation programs.

Brisendine said from 80 to 140 young people ask for assistance each year. The total amount paid in "scholarships'' ranges from $1,500 to $3,500 a year, depending on the number of requests. Financial support is also provided by service clubs and agencies.

In other business, the council:

n Issued $1,886,812 in sewer revenue bonds to finance a portion of construction of the 13,000-foot western interceptor sewer project, which is designed to serve the new industrial park and northwest area of the city. The cost of the loan payments is built into proposed sewer rate increases. Other funds are also paying for the project.

n Issued $1,950,000 in general obligation improvement bonds to finance a portion of the city's $3.7 million street improvement program for 2013. The program also has other funding sources.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150