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— Two variances were granted by the Planning and Zoning

Commission at a Thursday night appeals board hearing, and the commission

helped define goals for the city's drainage study.

Variances were granted to Kirby Thompson at his property on 504 Willow Street.

Thompson requested a variance to put in a 12-by-24-foot portable garage on his lot

for his camper.

Though the commission expressed some reluctance to do so, it granted

Thompson three variances - allowing him to place the building 4 feet from his

side fence, 20 feet from his rear property line, and allowing a second portable

building on the lot.

City building inspector David McNair assured the commission that the added

structure would not be an eyesore, and that the variance was needed because it was

the only place the building would fit and allow access. Thompson also presented a

letter from his neighbors stating they did not object to the building.

A second appeal for a set-back variance was granted to Stephen Ingle at 509

Commanche Drive. Ingle plans to build a 20-by-24-foot permanent shop building

on his property and needed the variance because of large trees on his property that

he did not wish to remove. With assurances that the added building would not be a

problem to neighbors because of the large lot sizes and that the set-back variance

would not interfere with city utility easements, the commission granted the vari

ance.

Ron Homeyer, of Civil Engineering, Inc., Siloam Springs, asked the commission

for guidance in his work for the city on a comprehensive drainage study. Homeyer

asked commission members regarding future growth plans so that he could use the

information to help recommend appropriate drainage plans to the city.

"I'm here because I need direction in completing the study," Homeyer said. "I

need to know which way the city is going to approach long-range planning." Homeyer asked the commission whether the city planned to use retention meth

ods, a full drainage plan, or green methods - which involve retaining and using

available water - in its approach to handling water runoff. He explained that nor

mal runoff from residential areas is 45-50 percent and runoff from commercial areas

is about 90 percent, making a big difference in how drainage issues are handled.

"That's why we need a comprehensive plan," said commission member Jim

Kooistra.

According to Kooistra, the city has a comprehensive statement but did not com

plete a plan which was started in the mid 1990s. A comprehensive plan for the city's

planning area would outline a basic plan, suggesting which areas would be best suit

ed for residential, commercial and industrial development. Such a plan would "not

be set in stone," Kooistra said, but would be helpful in laying out the city and plan

ning future growth.

"I'm hesitant to determine now how people can use their property 20 years from

now," commission member Paul Church said.

Kooistra said the Green Movement is coming and will be the way cities build

within 20 years. Everything will be built for sustainability, Kooistra explained.

People will reuse and recycle.

"Every homeowner will have to produce 20 percent of what he eats" under the

Green Movement, Kooistra said.

"The reason we requested the drainage study it that we need to improve our streets and alleys and can't do it without improving drainage," said city council member Janie Parks.

Discussion followed on ways to drain water from the downtown area of Gentry. Included in the discussion were drainage ditchesand waterway easements to move the water out of Gentry and toward Flint Creek or SWEPCO Lake.

Steve Ellis brought questions to the planning and zoning commission regarding possible ways to build housing units - either single houses or duplexes - on property located on the north edge of town near Byers and West Fulton.

He said he and his father were hoping to build the housing units without subdividing the property.

Commission members suggested that the property needed to be divided and necessary street improvements made to avoid future problems with financing and because of the likelihood that the property would eventually be divided. Not to divide the properties could make it difficult to do so in the future because of street access and utility easements.

The topics of raising animals in residential zones and of sign regulation changes were tabled until the September meeting due to lack of time.

News, Pages 1, 2 on 08/26/2009

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