Superior City Council reconsiders zoning change for parking
Superior's City Council is reconsidering an ordinance change that went into effect Jan. 26.
The change, adopted Jan. 15 and published Jan. 25, is headed back to the Plan Commission.
Under Wisconsin law, the ordinance went into effect the day after it was published.
The Superior City Council on Tuesday split 6-3 to reconsider the ordinance change and send the matter back to the Plan Commission for further consideration.
The ordinance change eliminated minimum off-street parking requirements in commercial and industrial zones in the city.
"I'm still very much in favor of this ordinance ... my reason for bringing this back up has nothing to do with my support or non-support of this ordinance," Councilor Brent Fennessey said. "It has 100 percent to do with — whatever we want to call it — a transparent process or a full vetting process. I just don't feel this was moved forward in a complete and above board process."
Fennessey acknowledged that the issue was discussed during the September, October and December Plan Commission meetings, but said some of the issues talked about during those meetings never happened such as rolling the ordinances change out in specific districts to test it out, other changes to the ordinance were never made, the Superior Business Improvement District and businesses weren't involved in the discussion, and there were no public hearings.
"This impacts every single business in Superior, and all businesses and residents should be invited to give their thoughts," Fennessey said.
Mayor Jim Paine disagreed with the assessment, stating that emails were sent to the Superior Business Improvement District, Chamber of Commerce and Development Association, all of which represent businesses throughout the community, and the issue was discussed in meetings open to the public and was covered by the Superior Telegram.
"This motion is an inappropriate attempt to bring this back up," Paine said. "That's not how this process works. Robert's Rules of Order directly says that a motion to reconsider only when something is hasty, ill-advised or erroneous action. This was none of those things. It was a four-month process fully covered in the media that was sent out to a number of stakeholders ... is not hasty. No one believes this was ill-advised. It was passed unanimously."
He said the appropriate process would be to bring new amendments and suggestions to the Plan Commission because the Council had no new information to consider.
"This passed ... this is good policy," Councilor Jenny Van Sickle said. "This is good for the city of Superior and I don't appreciate the narrative that, for some reason, it's been covert or is in some way negative for businesses or residents or neighborhoods. This policy encourages smart growth in Superior."
The arguments brought up Tuesday, Feb. 5, are the same arguments that were brought up three weeks ago when a motion to refer the ordinance change back to the Plan Commission failed before the changes were adopted, Van Sickle said.
"I believe this is really good policy," said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director. He said the issue was discussed among members of the mayor's development team, which includes leaders from the business associations in the city.
Serck said the downtown was built in the late 1800s, when cars were not a factor, and minimum requirements for parking could disallow businesses from opening.
Paine asked the Council to vote against reconsidering the ordinance change.
Van Sickle and Councilors Esther Dalbec and Tylor Elm voted against the reconsideration and a motion to refer the ordinance back to the Plan Commission.
Councilors Dan Olson, Warren Bender, Jack Sweeney, Brent Fennessey, Craig Sutherland and Keith Kern voted in favor of reconsideration and referral.
Because the ordinance was enacted the day after it was publish, as required by state law, the ordinance change stands, according to City Clerk Terri Kalan.
"Once an ordinance is enacted, it takes a formal act to repeal or amend it," Kalan stated in an email to the City Council on Wednesday, Feb. 6.