April 21, 2015

Cleveland sets public hearing for zoning changes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 5, 2013

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Town Board of Commissioners has set a public hearing for April 1 regarding proposed changes to the town’s zoning ordinance.
At Monday’s board meeting, Cleveland officials said the town planning board drafted the amendments to save farmland by allowing for more uses on agricultural property. Most of the changes would apply to the town’s extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ).
More than two dozen allowed uses would be added, including agribusiness, agricultural tourism, animal grooming/boarding establishment, animal hospital, bed-and-breakfast, church, day care center, equestrian facility, farm machinery sales and service, rodeo, stables and taxidermist.
Commissioners voted unanimously to set a public hearing on the amendments at its next regular meeting on April 1 at 7 p.m.
In addition, the town board agreed at Monday’s meeting to delay a decision on proposed amendments to the town’s weeds, grass and refuse ordinance.
Under both versions of the ordinance, property owners must not let “noxious weeds or grass” grow taller than 24 inches, or their land will be declared a public nuisance.
The current ordinance requires the town to mail a first notice and wait 10 days before scheduling a hearing with the property owner. If no one appears at the hearing and the land has not been mowed, the town must send a second notice ordering the owner to take care of the nuisance.
The property owner then is given another 15 days (for a minimum total of 25) before the town will come mow the land at the owner’s cost.
“People complain that once it gets up to that height, it takes forever to get it mowed, and it just gets higher,” said Mayor Pro Tem Danny Gabriel.
The new ordinance would require the town to send only one notice declaring a property as a public nuisance and wait just 15 days before taking care of it.
Gabriel also pointed out that the town itself owns a few fields that aren’t mowed regularly because they are used for hay.
“We would be in violation of this new ordinance,” Gabriel said. “Probably even the old one, really.”
Commissioner Pat Phifer also said he wasn’t comfortable approving the changes Monday.
He suggested adding a section that would allow property owners to submit a written proposal to dedicate certain areas of land to hay production. They would be required to mow a strip of grass of a certain width along any residential property line.
“To me, that would be the easiest thing to do,” Phifer said.
Gabriel said the board needs to come to a decision in April when spring is starting, but it could afford to delay the vote Monday.
He also said it wold be best to keep the 24-inch height limit the same, because “otherwise we’ll get calls every two or three weeks if we have a rainy spell.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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