Planning Commission Recommends Zoning Change for New and Existing Auto Companies | News, Sports, Jobs

NEU-ULM – A number of zoning changes affecting standards for automobile and truck companies have been reviewed and recommended for approval by the Neu-Ulm Planning Commission.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing on Thursday to consider revised standards for various companies in the auto and truck sectors.

New Ulm has been working on standards and guidelines to combat the disease for years. One of the difficulties was classifying inoperative vehicles. In residential areas, an immobilized vehicle could be considered harmful, but in industrial or commercial areas, an immobilized vehicle could be part of a business. Several repair and trucking companies require non-functional vehicles on their property to operate. The city decided to treat disabled vehicles as a storage and zoning issue rather than a nuisance.

The employees recently drew up new draft regulations that exempt car repair shops from the epidemic regulation. Instead, automobile-related businesses would be regulated by zoning ordinances.

Five automobile and truck companies are affected by the proposed change. These include minor car repairs; Car Repair – Major; sale or rental of vehicles; Machine/truck repair and sale and truck or cargo terminal.

City planner John Knisley said a review of zoning regulations for car companies found that many companies were not meeting the standards because the requirements were too strict or in some situations did not apply. Because of this, the workforce wanted to make adjustments.

Knisley said another consideration is the difference between existing car/truck companies in New Ulm and new companies. Some existing companies have been operating in Neu-Ulm for years and the city did not want to tighten their restrictions. However, new companies are expected to follow the new restriction.

Existing automotive-related companies would effectively be sidelined by less stringent regulations if the company were incorporated before August 1, 2023.

Existing businesses would not need to review offsite storage until the business had grown more than 25%. New companies would have to check external warehouses.

Existing businesses and new businesses are allowed to park 10 inoperative/decommissioned vehicles on the property, however existing businesses could store up to five inoperative vehicles in the front yard. Newly founded companies are not allowed to park non-functioning vehicles in the front yard area.

New businesses have to do most of the repair work indoors. Existing businesses could perform certain outdoor repairs if the business performs those types of outdoor repairs before July 1, 2023.

All companies related to the automotive industry, both existing and new, would be required to create a site plan approved by the community development department. This plan would be used to determine if anything about the property changed drastically. Once a site plan is approved, the company is responsible for adhering to this standard.

Before the meeting, Knisley said he received seven calls about the proposed changes. The calls came from different types of car companies, asking if the regulation would affect them. Knisley said all seven companies have already complied with the terms of the new regulation, although each has yet to submit a location plan.

During the public hearing, New Ulm Truck & Trailer’s Jeff Anderson expressed concern that the new regulations would prevent him from doing outdoor repairs. He said that since the company is landlocked, it cannot expand. In addition, the repair shop does not have a high enough ceiling to work on some of the trucks that arrive for repairs.

“We’ve been there since August 1988, I’ve never heard of an issue where anyone in the community would be unhappy that we were working on something outside,” Anderson said.

Knisley was able to allay these concerns. He said if a company does certain outdoor repairs before July 1 this year, the company can continue to do those repairs outdoors.

Knisley said the only requirement from city staff was for existing businesses to indicate on the site plan what type of outdoor repairs would be carried out.

After the public hearing, the commissioners voted to make the recommended changes to the city ordinance.

The recommendation is presented to the Neu-Ulm city council. The Council will hold two deliberations on the regulation in separate sessions. After the second review, the Council must approve the changes by a four-fifths majority. If approved, the change would take effect 30 days later.

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