Public may push for changes to zoning regulations on wake of Meriden issue
by Dennis Sharkey
The attempt by a Douglas County strip club operator to move into Jefferson County has exposed holes in zoning regulations.
Zach Snyder operates Paradise Saloon in Douglas County and has applied to the county to open another SOB just outside the Meriden city limits.
More than 80 Meriden residents attended a city council meeting last year in opposition of the business and more than 200 people have attended two separate public hearings conducted by the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission.
Planning and Zoning Director Eloise Tichenor met with commissioners on Monday to update them about the process the Planning and Zoning Commission has been walking through with the proposed SOB.
Tichenor told commissioners that the county’s regulations are being scrutinized by the public when dealing with SOBs.
“There’s been some concerns raised about the current regulations that the county has,” Tichenor said. “The public has raised the same concerns. The current regulations we have may be lax to that extent.”
Tichenor said she has already begun the process of gathering information to submit to the Planning and Zoning Commission for review. She said other jurisdictions have adopted regulations that limit the distance a SOB could be from schools, daycares and other businesses. Other regulations limit the hours of operation.
Tichenor also suggested to commissioners that a moratorium could be enacted until the county adopts new regulations. She said there is precedent because the county put a moratorium on certain improvements in 1994 until new regulations were adopted.
Commission Chairman Richard Malm said the county adopted new regulations two years ago and questioned why this issue wasn’t addressed then.
“We spent a lot of money,” Malm said. “Did this slip through their fingers or didn’t they realize it? This looks like it should have been addressed then.”
Tichenor said the issue was discussed during the process two years ago. She said there were six or seven types of uses that were addressed including SOBs. She said planners recognized that a conditional use permit would be required for those businesses in addition to meeting zoning requirements. However, she said no specifics were addressed.
“There was acknowledgement at that time that certain uses may take extra ordinary care,” Tichenor said.
“We’re going to have to let this thing run its course,” Malm responded.
Former County Economic Development Director and current Meriden City Councilman Jim McGrath said he thinks eventual regulations will be changed but not anytime soon.
“It’s something I think you can count on down the road,” McGrath said. “I don’t think you would see anything right away because it would look like a knee jerk reaction.”
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