The Rolla City Council began their Dec. 18 meeting with a public hearing regarding the potential rezoning of a parcel of land located just west of Oakland Drive and South Bishop Avenue.

The Rolla City Council began their Dec. 18 meeting with a public hearing regarding the potential rezoning of a parcel of land located just west of Oakland Drive and South Bishop Avenue.

The parcel of land is part of a row of three, 800 to 900 square foot houses built in the 1940’s. According to residents, the houses have been vacant for years after being constructed along the south side of Oakland.

According to City Planner James Shields, the three houses were zoned as general retail (C-2), in the early 1970’s, but the subject parcel was under a non-conforming use status which allowed it to be used as a residency. However, the house has been vacant for over a year, meaning the legal-conforming use status no longer applies, and the residential use of the building can no longer be continued.

In his comments on the potential rezoning, Shields said without a commercial interest in the property, the building will most likely “fall deeper into disrepair.” However no businesses have expressed desire to locate there, according to Shields, despite the parcel being zoned as C-2 for over 50 years.

The applicant who requested the rezoning, according to council documents, proposes to build two “townhouse-style fiveplexes” on the property.

Some concern was raised regarding the increased traffic the development would bring, which according to James Shields would be an additional 61 trips made by vehicles per an average weekday. Shields noted that with the increased number of trips made on the road, it would still be below 30 percent capacity.

During the public hearing, some concerns about paring were also brought up to the council, however the applicants site plan, according to Shields, shows “sufficient parking.” The feasibility of the parking is evaluated at the building permitting stage of development.

The only other concern raised at the meeting, is whether or not the density of the development would be “the right fit.”

After the first reading, two ordinances regarding the consolidation of lots surrounding two Missouri S&T fraternity houses, Sigma Pi and Theta XI, the council entered into a discussion on how residents are notified about public hearings for land use actions, and how to increase the reach of their notifications.

The council brought up such options as posting via social media, or creating a mailing list to allow those who sign up to receive emails on potential land use actions. The council also discussed increasing the radius in which mail notifications are delivered. Currently, the city mails these notices to properties 185 feet from the subject land. The use of physical signs were also discussed, and these ideas will be brought up again at a future council meeting.

The Sustainable Ozarks Partnership (SOP) was also represented at the meeting, and the first reading of a  memorandum of agreement was proposed to contribute funds to the partnership and their efforts.

The commentary on the memorandum says the City of Rolla “has been an active participant in the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership since it’s founding in 2013. [The] SOP, a not-for-profit corporation, was formed to unite the work of local governments, business, civic organizations and citizens in a four-county region to ensure the long-term sustainability of Ft. Leonard Wood.”

The commentary continued to say the SOP has been funded through service contracts with Ft. Leonard Wood and community support. The memorandum brought before the council suggested the City of Rolla contribute $15,000 per year for three years, in order for the SOP to “have an adequate budget to enable it to employ and support the necessary staff to implement the programs and projects that are developed to promote economic develop and sustainability regarding Fort Leonard Wood.”

The memorandum also said that future contribution amounts may increase depending upon the financial condition of the City. The memorandum will be given a second reading at the next city council meeting.

Finally, the council awarded the bid for new playground equipment in Green Acres Park. The bid was awarded to Play Scapes/Play & Park Structures, at the estimated cost of approximately $105,509. The council also awarded a bid to Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. to provide beverages for Rolla parks, the Centre and SplashZone. Ozarks Coca-Cola previously held the bid for nine years. According to council documents, customer service declined in the past year with many machines not being served for extended periods. Pepsi also offered a significant difference in incentives.