Planning Commission gives initial OK for Emprise project

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN JOEL KLAASSEN
The Hillsboro Planning Commission decided Thursday by a 4-2 vote that the Emprise Bank drive-through lane project be recommended for approval by the Hillsboro City Council.

Attached to the recommendation were concerns that would yet need to be addressed regarding the loss of seven parking spaces and pedestrian and traffic safety.

Three business owners gave opinions and concerns about the project prior to the vote.

Charles Rodgers of Rodgers and Associates, Phillipsburg, who owns a business across the street from the proposed drive-thru, sent a letter in favor of the project.

Hank Wiebe, Prudent Tours co-owner with an adjacent business affected by the project, appeared at the meeting to express his concerns.

He said, “I am opposed to losing all of the parking spaces in front of my business. It is very bothersome to me from a business standpoint.”

Tom Koslowsky agreed that losing the parking is a problem and said that the traffic crossing the sidewalk would be a hazard for pedestrians.

Wiebe later expressed concern about the value of his building being diminished on resale with no parking spaces available in front of his establishment.

When asked if Emprise Bank had considered any other plan for the drive-thru, Emprise representative Brad Bartel said they had not.

The city had obtained a traffic study from EBH Engineers, Cimmaron, which showed the spaces needing to be removed, including one handicapped spot that would have to be put back in somewhere else and that spaces would need to be removed from Grand up to one space in front of Supreme Floor Co.

Following discussion about the safety issues, the traffic flow issues and loss of parking, Kevin Suderman moved to approve the request. He later amended the motion to include that there were concerns about the parking and safety that would need to be addressed by the council.

This motion was made after Chairman Gaylord Goertzen raised the issue of helping one business at the detriment of another which was a problem for him.

Voting for the recommendation were Ray Franz, Virginia Martens, Craig Roble and Lynn Penner. Voting against were Suderman and Goertzen. Absent were Roma Becker, Krista Heinrichs and Dale Honeck.

The Emprise project recommendation is slated to be on the agenda at the Nov. 7 regular meeting of the Hillsboro city council.

In other business the planning commission heard from John Riggs of Riggs Associates, Lindsborg, regarding the proposed updated zoning laws for the city of Hillsboro.

The last revision was completed in 2000.

The new document contains 155 pages and has been updated to include new uses in certain zoning districts and some new districts which were highlighted including Adult Entertainment District, College and Institutional District and Planned Unit Development which would apply to developments such as the Windover project which was never completed.

Riggs went over the changes with the commission and asked them to read the document and come to the work session yet to be scheduled to ask additional questions and make any recommendations before the final zoning document is prepared.

Following that action a new zoning map will be generated.

The next planning commission meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30.

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