Before a Cody developer can build a metal building on G Avenue, city council members must first approve an unintended encroachment onto city property. 

The mistake was discovered when Cody developer Ed Higbie submitted plans to build an 8,000-square-foot standard metal sided and roofed structure on .85 acres of land off North Blackburn Street zoned for open business-light industrial use. 

Over the past nine years or so, Higbie has added dirt and other material to the property to fill low areas up to 10 feet deep. Some fill ended up too far west and onto city property that contains a storm water conveyance channel, which carries water from the Big Horn Avenue and Blackburn Street areas. 

Because Higbie hasn’t identified how the building will be used, it was designated as a storage warehouse when city planning and zoning board members recently reviewed site plans. 

P&Z members’ vote to approve the site plan was made with the stipulation that if the building is used for something other than storage, Higbie must return for additional review, including to determine if there’s a need for architectural enhancements or additional landscaping requirements.

Parking

A different purpose could impact parking.

City planner Todd Stowell said it’s important to achieve maximum parking area by how the building is placed. If it’s used for a low-traffic or low-occupancy purpose, the configuration likely doesn’t matter.

The city requires one parking spot per 2,000 square feet of facilities used for storage. If Higbie’s 8,000-square-foot building ends up as a warehouse, only four parking spaces are needed. 

Stowell said Higbie should consider the building’s placement and let P&Z members know his preferred option.

Encroachment

Regarding the encroachment issue, Stowell said because the city has no filling or grading permit process, there is no record to help verify if either the materials or compaction processes used are suitable for the building foundation.

Because placing fill on city property was not authorized, Higbie will need council permission to obtain a building permit. 

“The extension of the fill onto city property results in a larger building pad on the applicant’s property,” Stowell wrote in an agenda summary. 

So before the council can determine if it should allow the fill to remain, more information is needed. Higbie’s engineer must determine if the soil material and foundation design are suitable for the structure – to ensure the fill slope won’t erode and undermine the building pad. An engineer should also verify the storm water conveyance channel has sufficient capacity.

If council permission is not obtained, the project will need additional P&Z board review.

Enhancements

G Avenue is a fully developed private street, except a variance granted during the subdivision process exempts sidewalks.

And the P&Z has not required landscaping in the Blackburn Planned Unit Development provided the building has some architectural variety.

But if the fill material remains, the slope along the west side of the property should be seeded with a native grass seed to stabilize the slope and minimize erosion, Stowell said. 

Noting the structure lacked architectural enhancements, the city planner said many buildings in the Blackburn subdivision have either two-toned walls for a wainscot look or a covered entryway extension. 

“As the (gray) building has apparently already been ordered, a color enhancement is off the board,” Stowell said. “But a covered entryway should be considered.”

 

(Alex Nicholson contributed to this story.)

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