city council

New zoning ordinances on the horizon

Council aims to streamline review and approval of building permits

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Luke Muller from First District in Watertown was a guest at a special meeting Monday with De Smet’s Mayor and city council. The meeting addressed the city’s current zoning ordinances that have been in place since 2000. Council members discussed problems they have had with the ordinances, and reoccurring variances that could be addressed in the proposed new ordinances.

The city council gave feedback to Muller that should be helpful in writing up the new zoning ordinances that will be distributed to the city council in a second special meeting held in late September.

During the September meeting, the city council will review the proposed zoning ordinances and recommend any changes to the draft copy or place the ordinances on the agenda in a regular meeting for its first reading and potential adaptation.

One item the council would like to see changed is the issuance of building permits. Currently when the City of De Smet receives a building permit, a zoning officer will review the building permit application, site plan, and make an inspection of the building site. This is to assure the building meets the current city ordinances.

When the zoning officer reviews the application, a recommendation is made to the city council at the next regular meeting. The city council will vote to allow or deny the building permit.

The city council meets just one time a month on the second Wednesday. There could be a lengthy delay before the council okays the building permit, based on when the application was submitted. This process could be streamlined in the proposed ordinances.

A draft for the new zoning ordinances could include an assignment of an administrator or assign all zoning officers to be administrators. An administrator would be able to approve a building permit after a review of the application and building site. Doing so, would allow a homeowner or contractor to quickly enter the construction phase of their project.

Some past, current, and potential issues that members of the city council had, included items such as, how to address a tiny house, fence heights or locations, special issues with corner lots, vertical siding, types of siding, differences between a shed and garage, and shop/house combinations and amount of living place.

Once the written draft of the new zoning ordinances are completed, the city council will meet and review the proposed ordinances, make notes, and propose any changes. While it is too early to tell you what exactly is changing, it does appear that changes to the zoning ordinances are inevitable.

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