The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 15, 2012

Public hearing set on comprehensive plan

By Debby Woodin

JOPLIN, Mo. — A public hearing will be conducted by the Joplin City Council today on an ordinance that would adopt a new version of the city’s comprehensive plan.

The council also will be asked to consider resolutions that would start work toward a $794 million redevelopment plan for the city.

The city’s master developer, the Wallace Bajjali Development Partners of Sugar Land, Texas, has proposed $794 million in potential redevelopment projects. Preliminary plans were outlined at a work session last week that was televised so residents could view the presentation.

Resolutions that would allow a grant application to be filed for $40 million in economic development funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration is one to be considered. Another would authorize land acquisition for potential projects by the Joplin Redevelopment 353 Corporation.

Changes to zoning guidelines on South Main Street will set the stage for some of those potential projects along with encouraging more aesthetic building standards generally along the corridor. Those changes are part of the new 2012 comprehensive plan and adoption of it will be the subject of the hearing for public comment.

A planned district designation for Main Street from 15th Street to 50th Street in the plan is intended to adopt the same design standards for commercial properties that recently were put in place for the tornado zone. Councilman Benjamin Rosenberg had asked for the city staff to develop that proposal. It also designates that area of Main Street as a mixed-use district.

Design guidelines in the plans set standards for such things as buildings’ exterior design and materials.

A public comment session on the proposed changes was held in May and the city’s planning and zoning staff have since been fine-tuning the plan according to those suggestions.

The council also will hear a request by Fire Chief Mitch Randles to make a change to city burning ordinances that would allow residents to have larger burn piles if they need them when weather conditions permit safe burning.

“Basically what we’re looking at is flexibility,” Randles said. He said the current ordinance restricts burn piles for such things as leaves and sticks at 3 feet wide by 2 feet high.

“That works for most people but there are those outer edges of the city where the properties are larger and they need a little bit larger fire,” to burn vegetation, Randles said. A proposal change also would allow the burning of construction debris and for land clearing “in a very clean and safe way,” the fire chief said.

Allowing burning for debris and land clearing was on the table before the 2011 tornado but work on writing a proposed amended ordinance got interrupted by the tornado recovery, he said.

Meeting time

The council’s regular meeting starts at 6 p.m. on the fifth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St.