Hooper sees more zoning conflicts

Wednesday , February 05, 2014 - 1:40 PM

Anita Kersey, Standard-Examiner Correspondent

HOOPER — Dealing with development while preserving the open rural spaces that dominate Hooper’s landscape has been an ongoing dilemma for city planners and the city council since the city incorporated in November 2000.

But the city council says now is the time to once again reopen the general plan and make some decisions on how and where high density housing can best benefit the community while finding a balance between residential growth and preserving open and agricultural space. And the community needs to be involved, officials say.

City engineer Tracy Allen said it has been more than six years since Hooper’s general plan has been open, and with steady growth in the city, it needs to be reopened so that proper zoning can be re-examined to accommodate the need for higher density housing.

The city has been dealing with more frequent zoning disputes, and officials believe updating the general plan will better guide future decisions.

As an example of the sorts of controversies cropping up now, Gardner Crane LLC approached the city with the idea for a possible patio development on 12 acres it owns at 5605 W. 5500 South. The planning commission approved the idea saying it would be a good buffer between half-acre lots and the adjacent industrial/commercial areas.

But several citizens attending the meeting wanted to know why this land adjacent to their property was being rezoned from half-acre lots to higher density lots, and they knew nothing about it until it was a done deal.

Chuck Elmer said he is against the rezoning and the development because before he bought his property several years ago he was told the area would stay at least half-acre lots.

“I feel the city passed this rezone with no public comment, at least from none of us bordering this project,” he said. “My opinion is someone knows someone and the city council and zoning board minds were made up before any public comment was heard ... the good ol’ boy network.”

Council member Annette Fielding explained that in 2007 the process to open the general plan and permit rezoning in some areas was a process that took more than a year with publicly advertised meetings held all along that time.

“The city did not necessarily seek out the land owner to rezone their land,” Fielding said.

Councilman Shawn Beus said more and more people are moving to the small farming community of Hooper and it has become evident to the city officials that the general plan needs to be reopened,

He said the purpose is to look to the future for the city’s economic development and needs for infrastructure and resources, not to rezone specific parcels of land.

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