Planning commission expects to be busy
November 7, 2020
By TOM LAVENTURE
Ironwood — The Ironwood Planning Commission is going about the process of prioritizing projects as it expects to be involved with the wave of marijuana establishment licensure applications for the first half of 2021, according to discussion during a virtual meeting on Thursday.
The city’s priority of the moment is completing work on the zoning ordinance and involving the planning commission in that process, along with the downtown development plan, wayfinding master plan and the master arts plan, said Tom Bergman, director of community development for the city of Ironwood. At the same time the city staff is completing the application timeline, and the scoring rubric for the marijuana ordinance.
“There’s a good possibility that a substantial amount of the planning commission’s time for the first six months of the year are going to be dedicated to that process,” Bergman said. “If we have a substantial number of applicants, the majority of those applicants that get through a pre-application process will have to come through the planning commission to get a conditional use (permit) as part of the ordinance requirement.”
The revised zoning ordinance could reach the public hearing portion of the process as early as late January but it could be delayed, he said. The planning commission input will be sought for the policy based portions and will be presented soon.
The adult-use marijuana establishments ordinance goes into effect Tuesday, Nov. 10. At that time, the digital application will be unveiled with the requirements and legal information.
The pre-application will provide the timeline for the project that could take up to eight months based on the number of calls regarding applications, Bergman said. It outlines what is needed in the application, the review deadline, the supplemental information period and return for review, the conditional use process, the competitive scoring rubric, public hearing, rank scoring and approval consideration.
“The planning commission will also be involved in the rubric scoring process with the city commission,” Bergman said.
The planning commission will review each applicant’s conditional use request, he said. Each applicant will have a public hearing for conditional use at the planning commission level.
“It sounds like we’re going to have ourselves a handful,” said Sam Davey, planning commission chair.
The city is in its sixth year of a comprehensive plan and in the 11th year of the downtown blueprint plan. The downtown development plan and tax increment financing plan will be part of the new comprehensive plan.
“Our thought is that over the next couple of years we may want to really take a bigger look at the comprehensive plan and at a revision of the comprehensive plan in general,” Bergman said.
The planning commission 5-0 approved a conditional use permit for a garage located at 121 N. Lowell St., at the intersection of West Frederick Street. The action followed a public hearing on the application during the virtual meeting.
The conditional use permit is required because the two-level structure with lower level commercial space and upper level residence exists in the C-2 downtown commercial district, Bergman said. The C-2 district is designed for the concentration of retail and service establishments in the downtown area and the garage plans conform with zoning.
Planning Commissioner member Mark Silver said he didn’t see the structure presenting a problem as it is mostly on West Frederick Street.
The meeting concluded on other matters where the topic of the increased use of storage containers across all zoning areas needed to be addressed. Silver said language concerning outdoor storage is written into the ordinance but is going unenforced.
Bergman said that the zoning department is working on a complaint basis and is not actively looking for violations until brought to their attention.
The revised city ordinance will widen the language on outdoor storage containers and better define what is storage, rental storage, what is allowed and what is not, he said. The important thing is to be consistent whether in the industrial park or other zoning districts.
The next meeting of the planning commission will be at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 3.