The balance between protecting property rights versus protecting property values briefly arose in discussion at the Sept. 3 Rolla City Council meeting.
Larry Bowen had asked for approval of a replat of Lots 24 and 25 of the Wedgewood Manor Subdivision at the last meeting in August. He wanted to consolidate those two lots so he could build a garage, and he had asked for both first and final reading.
The ordinance to consolidate the two lots is necessary because an accessory building must be built on a lot with a residence. The council voted 8-0 to pass the ordinance following the final reading.
Bowen had asked for the first and final readings to be conducted at the Aug. 19 meeting, but Sixth Ward Councilman Tony Bahr balked at the final reading of the ordinance in August. He urged the council at that time to wait until the first September meeting so Community Development Director John Petersen could find out exactly what Bowen planned to build at that site, 1007 Laurel Drive.
The council agreed in August to hear only the first reading.
At the Sept. 3 meeting, Petersen showed a slide of a drawing provided by Bowen. It was a picture of a three-car garage, and the drawing showed an attractive exterior for the building.
Bahr was satisfied.
"This needs to be the norm," Bahr said of the inclusion of the illustration before voting on the rezoning, especially in the case of neighborhoods such as the one on Laurel Drive.
Having the picture gives the council more information before it makes a decision.
Said Petersen, "Sir, I think you're absolutely right." Petersen noted that property owners could be asked to provide, voluntarily, illustrations for future changes such as this one.
Bahr told of an accessory building in his neighborhood that is a pole barn. He finds it unattractive and not fitting for the appearance of the neighborhood.
But Third Ward Councilman Kelly Long interjected that the city council and administration must not, at least at this point, lead property owners to believe illustrations are necessary to receive council attention and action.
"I don't want to give the impression we're requiring it. We don't have that right," Long said. "Whether we say we don't want a pole barn … it's not up to us."
Leaving the door open for possible enhanced regulation, Long said, "I think that's a different discussion."
Bahr said, "Part of our mission is to protect their citizens (and their land values)."
Long reiterated, "That's a different discussion."
For the present moment, Long said, the requirement that a property owner show a picture of what he plans for a building is not based on an ordinance. In fact, Long said, even though Bowen has presented the city government with a picture, he is not bound legally to build a structure that looks like the picture.
Page 2 of 2 - "He could build a pole barn if he wanted," Long said, although he quickly added, "I have absolutely no doubt he'll build a very nice structure."
Long said again, "I don't want to give people the impression we're regulating this when we don't have the right."
Second Ward Councilman Steven Leonard, who has spoken before about the importance of city government protecting property values, indicated that neighbors should at least be told about the change.
"We are changing the character of the neighborhood," he said.
In related action, the council approved 8-0 another consolidation of lots. This request was submitted by Bonnie Jean Bachman for Lots 11 and 12 of Wild Rose Hill Subdivision.
The properties are located at 304 and 308 Sooter Lane.
Bachman asked for the consolidaion to permit construction of a large accessory structure.
The vote was 8-0 on the final reading of the ordinance allowing the consolidation.
On another property question, the council voted to dismiss a rezoning request from RLD Properties LLC after owner Robert L. Davis wrote a letter asking to retract his request.