Property owners in Grand Island’s large lot residential zones now are able to have livestock on their property and construct private recreational structures.
This includes St. Paul Road, north of Capital Avenue, much of the Capital Heights area, west of North Road and north of 13th Street, and the East Lakes area.
The Grand Island City Council approved the change to city code Tuesday.
Issues have come up recently with larger tracts of land in large lot residential zoning districts, specifically with how to allow certain uses of tracts that are more than five acres.
Property owners are wanting an electric service to provide a well for animals or a large shelter that would require a building permit on lots without a house or other principal use, said Chad Nabity, regional planning director.
“City of Grand Island allows you to keep livestock if you have enough property. It’s been that way since the late ’90s,” he said. “If you have a house on that piece of property, you can keep your horse there as long as you have an enclosure that’s the right size.”
The requests are not unreasonable, Nabity said. They just don’t fit current city regulations.
“One gentleman has eight acres he wants to put his horses on,” Nabity said. “He can do that, except it’s not a principal use. And he wants to put a well out there, so he needs an electric meter, but we can’t give him that unless he has a principal use, and keeping livestock is not a principal use and a vacant property isn’t primary use.”
Another property owner has constructed a shade shelter to get out of the sun while enjoying the adjacent lake.
“They could have to tear that down because they don’t have a house out there,” Nabity said. “Is it unreasonable to be able to put up a shade shelter on a piece of ground that is 10 acres and has a lake on it? That doesn’t seem unreasonable.”
Adding conditional uses to the city code will allow private recreational areas and livestock, but the property must be a minimum of five acres.
“The conditional uses get rid of that, what do we do about not having a principal use?” Nabity said. “We have a principal use, if council grants them the conditional use permit, and we can move forward.”
In separate business, the City Council approved rezoning a part of the Copper Creek subdivision, located east of Engleman Road and south of Indian Grass Road.
The 27 acres was changed from R2 low-density residential to R3SL medium-density residential small lot zone.
The request was made by Guarantee Group LLC, which wants to build townhouses on the property.
An R2 zone requires 6,000-square-foot lots.
R3SL has 3,000-square-foot minimum lot size and allows more houses to be built.
The city’s Planning Commission recommended approval, Nabity told the council.
Amos Anson, a local developer who plans to pursue similar housing projects in such districts, advocated for approving the zoning change.
“Affordable housing, workforce housing, attainable housing is very important to the city of Grand Island,” Anson said. “There’s only so many ways to make a house more affordable, more cost-effective, and a lot of it starts with the lot, the land.”
Sean O’Connor, Thriv’ Construction president and Guarantee managing member, said the zoning change is needed, particularly amid rising costs for construction materials.
“We’re seeing increases in plumbing material. We’re seeing increases in improvement material. And we don’t know what’s going to happen,” O’Connor said. “There is a massive demand for housing in the community and we’re not meeting that need.”
Gordon Coble, a Grand Island real estate broker, said more single-family homes are needed.
“I am in favor of trying something new to increase the housing stock,” Coble said. “I think it’s worth doing, and I think it’s the direction we’re going to have to go to have homes affordable.”
Copper Creek resident Matt Shultz expressed concern about the added traffic to an already busy route, and the danger it poses to area children.
“If you’ve ever been to my neighborhood, it’s like a super-highway of cars coming off of Old Potash,” Shultz said. “As I look at the maps that have been shown for future development, it’s only going to increase. I hope if you go forward with this, you consider more access off of Engleman. The one access alone is not sufficient.”
The ordinance was approved with council members Mike Paulick and Clay Schutz voting against it.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.