Sturgis council approves 1st reading of changes to Downtown Overlay District

Several semi-trailers parked on lots on Sturgis Main Street may have to be removed if the proposed revisions are adopted later this month by the city council. Pioneer photo by Tim Potts

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STURGIS — The Sturgis City Council Monday approved the first reading of Title 18 – Downtown Overlay District, which deals with balconies and outdoor storage, after a lengthy discussion and several changes. 

The Downtown Overlay District (DOD) was established by ordinance 2013-03, effective March 5, 2013, with the intention to preserve and enhance the unique character of the district by establishing special standards that address aesthetics, access, site development, screening, landscaping, and parking.  

The district is generally located within the boundary located north of Sherman Street and including properties fronting Lazelle Street, on the east, properties fronting Middle Street, and to the west, properties fronting Fourth Street.  

The proposed revision changes the word “should” to “shall” in 27 sections of the ordinance, which will change the meaning from suggestive to required. 

The two other significant changes being addressed under the proposed ordinance is a section on the overhang of balconies and outdoor storage within the district boundary.  

As originally proposed, a balcony that overhangs in the public right-of-way or sidewalk may not be no more than two-thirds of the width of the sidewalk and that portion that overhangs the sidewalk may not be constructed with open or grated floors. Most of the sidewalks on Main Street are around 10 feet wide, so as first proposed, a balcony could overhang the public right-of-way approximately six and one-half feet. 

Substantial discussion was held among council members, and Rod Bradley, downtown business owner, who also provided input. 

Section 2, Mixed-Use Development, topic D, was changed from the draft language to include the suggested, “not to exceed six feet,” so the first reading was passed with the following language: “balconies may overhand the public right of way or sidewalk by no more than two-thirds of the width of the sidewalk, not to exceed six feet, measuring from the back of the curb to the property line.”  The motion to approve the first reading also deleted the proposed change that stated, “all balconies that overhand the sidewalk or public right of way may not be constructed with open or grated floor.” 

The motion was made by Jason Anderson, seconded by Rhea Crane, and passed unanimously. 

The second proposed changes to Title 18 were in section 10, item f, that deals with outdoor storage. Metal Conex style storage containers larger than 144 square feet, or semi-trailers, may not be used for storage in the district, and the use of chain link fencing is not allowed.  

A quick drive through the district discovered four semi-trailers and three metal storage units that may be in violation, should the ordinance pass second reading.  

“The existing storage containers and semi-trailers will likely not be grandfathered in, and the city will work with the owners to meet the ordinance if approved,” said David Smith, code enforcement officer.

The council will consider the second reading of the ordinance at its next meeting Jan. 22.

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