Washington Plan Commission considering expansion of bypass overlay zone
By Sabrina Westfall
The Washington Plan Commission is discussing a proposal to rezone the area by the US 50 bypass.
City Attorney Tim Dant said the commission hosted a public hearing for an ordinance that would extend the US 50 Bypass Overlay Zone District.
“We have an overlay zone around the Highway 55 pass that was created shortly after the bypass was built. What it is, is to protect the appearance of city,” Dant explained.
The current zoning covers 1,000 feet on either side of the US 50 bypass. The city recently annexed additional land near the highway, so this rezoning will encompass the new area.
If passed, the rezoning will also include an additional approximately 1.465 miles to the east.
“It restricts what kinds of buildings – what kinds of things – you can put up, and try to make the appearance look nice,” Dant explained. “There is a gap there right now, and what we are wanting to do is extend the overlay zone a little further to the east to take in the new property that is now in the city limits.”
The overlay zone would restrict some of the work that can be done in the area within the rezoned area, including not using metal for example, with a preference for nice masonry.
It’s to improve the image of the city that pass through on the bypass, and they don’t see ugly pole barns and buildings that are falling down, and shacks that people want to throw up and sell carpeting out of,” Dant said.
Dant noted as long as any work done by current landowners is improving the residence, exceptions can be made.
“People who live there and have their residence there are not going to be affected by it, if what they are doing is improving their residence, adding a garage, adding a storage building,” Dant said, noting if the land is leased the building would have to come before the Plan Commission.
The ordinance would provide a forum for those who would like to make improvements an opportunity to come before the Plan Commission for approval.
“The (ordiance) is very extensive. There are things about lighting and I think even some about greenery and shrubbery, and things like that,” Dant said.
Dant said the public is welcome to the next public hearing on the ordinance Sept. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in the Washington City Council Chambers.