City Council Votes to Bring Zoning Ordinance Into Compliance With State Law

Daniel Prince

Council also okays natural gas transportation system for large industrial customers

Union City Council’s regular meeting last night lasted about 11 minutes. They honored seven city employees for January work anniversaries. Melody Porter in utilities and Jennifer Price in the warehouse both celebrate 22 years of service. Larry Robinson was honored for 20 years with Union Public Safety. Reggie Young has spent 13 years in the water and sewer division. Clay Whisnant was recognized for 6 years with the water plant. Casie Gregory and Jonie Jeter both have been with the finance department for five years.

Council held second and final readings of two ordinances, both of which received public hearings earlier in the evening. The first was to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to change the separation distance of body piercing, tattoo parlors, and the like from other such businesses, as well as from churches, schools, zoned residential areas, parks, playgrounds, libraries, and other such facilities. The current zoning ordinance had a 600-foot separation; however, state law says the minimum separation has to be 1000 feet. Since the state licenses and permits such businesses, the zoning ordinance needed to change to comply. Stephen Allen, Senior Planner with the Catawba Regional Council of Governments, said the issue was found after someone had submitted a plan for that type of business but couldn’t get into the location because it was too close to a church in the same shopping center. After some research on the separation requirements, the Planning Commission found the difference and felt it needed to be changed as soon as possible to keep future applicants from going through the process and not being able to open due to the discrepancy. The Planning Commission met after the public hearing and unanimously voted to recommend approval of the ordinance, and City Council voted unanimously to adopt the change.

Council also held second and final reading on an ordinance establishing a natural gas transportation system. There was a public hearing prior to the meeting on that ordinance, as well, with no comments received. City Administrator Joe Nichols said having this ordinance in place will allow large industrial customers to purchase natural gas on their own and then schedule transport through the city system to their facility. In doing so, they might be able to find a better price than the city can. Currently, the city authorizes such transports by making individual agreements with these large industries. Nichols said that currently, Kohler is the only one doing this, but a few others have expressed interest. Rather than negotiating individual agreements with each, Nichols said it would be easier to have an ordinance allowing for it. Council unanimously voted to adopt the ordinance.

Council awarded the bid to repair the pier at Foster Park Lake to Kingsmore Construction Company for $62,052. Nichols said the pier has been closed since the spring due to rotting wood decking and handrails that had fallen into disrepair. The underwater structure was inspected and generally found to be in good shape. Kingsmore Construction will remove and dispose of the wooden handrails and decking. They will install 1x6 composite decking and ADA-compliant aluminum handrails, and they will replace missing lag bolts above the water. Nichols said the work will have to be done prior to the JAKES event this May.
We’ll have news from the needs assessment public hearing held prior to the meeting in tomorrow’s newscast.

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