Although Cody’s Planning & Zoning board and building inspector relented Tuesday and gave full permission to the Cody bus barn occupancy, the board’s actions shone a light on the need for examining the power those unelected officials wield.

While the bus barn contractors had completed their work and the fire marshal had approved occupancy of the building, the school district was prevented from full occupancy by the city building inspector and P&Z for three incredibly minor issues.

The issues of concern were the shortage of flower planters on the north side of the building, an issue with decorative siding and the fact the asphalt driveway was five feet short.

Those were the only stated reasons for holding up the school district’s ability to use the completed facility and prohibiting the district from pursuing the sale of the old bus barn.

The main changes the school district is required to make is an amended site plan – a key feature is moving more vegetation to the north side to break up the wall and help the view from future homes in the neighboring subdivision – and finish the paving.

We aren’t privy to the real reasons, but we suspect P&Z wants to make certain it keeps hold of the power it has been granted.

It laid down rules and it is going to enforce them even if they are silly.

If the board relents, it has diminished its control and power.

Certainly there is a need for Planning and Zoning. That cannot be overstated. No reasonable person would say allow anything.

The issue is how much control should unelected officials have in the process.

Last December, the Cody City Council began taking a half-hearted look at Planning and Zoning and the power it has been granted.

It is our belief too much control has been given to unelected officials.

In our opinion, the city council should establish a set of building regulations which should be reviewed every few years. Then the P&Z and building inspector would enforce those rules and not make up their own stipulations on an individual basis. Plus a little give-and-take and a little common sense would go a long way.

Contractors and property owners need to know the rules beforehand.

We hope the city can improve the planning process. It needs a hard look.

 

(4) comments

Jim Jones

John,

I thought this is an editorial. What are your specific recommendations for changes to the functions of the P&Z board? As it stands, you're rallying people to support change. Exactly what change do you propose? Voting for hope and change got Obama elected.

Your editorial makes it sound like the P&Z board operates with no rules. As far as I know, building on any property within the city limits requires NO approval and NO interaction the board if you follow the building code and zoning restrictions. The board only comes into play if the property owner wants to do something outside the zoning restrictions.

For example, if you build a home that conforms to the existing zoning regulations you file a set of building plans with the city and the planning department checks them against the building code and zoning. You get the plans signed and stamped by the Planning Department and not the Board and you build your home. If you want to build a two story home on property zoned for single story homes, you go before the P&Z Board a try to get a variance or conditional use permit. The board can tell you no, you can't build a two story home on a lot zoned for one story homes or they can say yes, with conditions. That's exactly where the P&Z Board has power. You might be allowed a second story only if the second story is 60% of the square footage of the first floor, for example. This is where the Board has power but If you disagree with the Board's findings, you can appeal to the city council which has the power to overturn the Board's decisions.

I am not defending the Board, I'm pointing out that the planters on the bus barn site were either required by the existing zoning on the property or added on by the Board if a variance was applied for. Either way, the planters are one of the conditions of building a bus barn. When the school district broke ground, they explicitly agreed to building what is on the sign, stamped and approved set of plans. When the building inspector verifies that everything was built according to the plans, an occupancy permit is issued.

If you don't agree with the zoning regulations, you go to the P&Z Board. If you can't get satisfaction from the P&Z Board you appeal to the city council.

What do you suggest in lieu of following the law?

DeweyV

I'm of the opinion - based on discussions I have had with developers and contractors across many years - that the real issue with the City Planning and Zoning is not so much the volunteer appointees on the oversight board, but way more with the city planning staff that lead them around by the brass rings in their noses.

That criticism is widespread . The Community Development Director's desk is a chokepoint.

Tate Cummings

The P Z Board has long run roughshod in the community. Big fish in small pond types, unqualified and agenda laden people seem to flock to this group. Long time citizen wants to put up a fence 1' higher than regs to keep deer out: NO. Kanye West does whatever he feels like: YES. Members of the P Z Board have often sold out their neighbors only to let some 'celebrity' roll into town and does what he pleases.

Heck, you even had the self appointed head of the P Z Board show up on your pages mockingly stating that "nothing's wrong" yet ran and hide when the commenters didn't quite see it his way. This is a cabal that needs a quick and sudden revamp, PERIOD

Whatsup

look back at who was on the planning and zoning board and look forward who's on the planning and zoning board it's a joke

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