Despite reservations by the Chippewa County Economic Development Committee, the Chippewa Falls City Council on Tuesday night approved a zoning change in the Lake Wissota Business Park.
The council voted 5-1 in favor of changing the zoning for SIGH Properties, which operates Huffcutt Concrete, on a 44 acre parcel. Huffcutt will build a plant on the site.
The council changed zoning for the parcel from Light Industrial to Heavy Industrial.
Voting for the rezoning were council members John Monarski, CW King, Chuck Hull, Paul Nadreau and Robert Hoekstra. The sole vote against was Paul Olson.
County Zoning Administrator Doug Clary, appearing on behalf of the county’s Economic Development Committee, asked the city to amend its zoning ordinance instead of granting the Heavy Industrial zoning for the parcel.
“The sole basis for the rezone petition is because SIGH Properties is projecting the outside storage will exceed more than 10 percent of the parcel. Please keep in mind that a majority of the outdoor storage is for finished products, while the raw products will be located inside the proposed building,” Clary said, reading from a letter to the council.
King wanted to know where the county panel stood on the rezoning.
“It was a nice letter. Are you for or against?” he asked.
Clary suggested the city amend the light industrial ordinance to allow for firms to exceed more than 10 percent storage. He said that could be done before Huffcutt produces and begins storing items on the site.
But City Planner Jayson Smith said the county panel’s reservations were coming too late in the process.
“I think at this particular time though that ship has sailed,” he said, saying city approval was needed for the project to go forward.
Smith said he understood the county panel was concerned more parcels at the industrial park would be rezoned heavy industrial. But he said that was unlikely. There’s only one 15 acre parcel left in the park where that would be possible. But the other remaining 35 to 40 acres are targeted for offices and medical facilities.
Hull said there is plenty of interested in those 35 to 40 acres, and that heavy industrial zoning for that area was unlikely
“We could have talked about this months ago,” Smith said of changing the light industrial zoning, adding about the county committee’s recommendation: “I didn’t know about this until I talked with (County Administrator) Frank Pascarella yesterday.”
Olson asked Smith: “If this was an option, why wasn’t the city council informed of that option?”
Smith said no one came to the city staffers about the light industrial zoning previously.
“We shouldn’t be bringing the options to you,” Olson said.
Smith said he was working with current city ordinances.
The council also approved the minutes of two city committees recommending that the duties of the fire chief be changed.
In a cost-cutting move in 2006, the city combined the duties of the fire chief and a battalion chief.
The council is scheduled to vote next month on raising EMS fees. If that is approved, Fire Chief Michael Hepfler will no longer also do a battalion chief’s job.
Council President Rob Kiefer presided over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Greg Hoffman.