A tough job in the Heart of the Hills

By Jeff Smith

Dani Schade, the development services coordinator, who has taken over some responsibilitIes for the Hill City Planning and Zoning Commission.

Dani Schade has been hired by the city of Hill City to take some burden off of Brett McMacken, city administrator, when it comes to planning and zoning issues.

Her responsibilities include code enforcement, inspections, researching building permits, plats and zoning changes as well as issues with variances. Schade’s official title is the development services coordinator.

The City of Hill City had someone similar to Schade a year and a half ago and then when they left McMacken took on Planning and Zoning work part-time. With the volume of work the role required he appealed to the city council to turn working with planning and zoning into a full-time role. There has been a lot of development and improvement of businesses in Hill City so Schade is definitely going to be busy. Schade said it’s good to see.

“It’s so much work I can’t imagine ever going to part-time,” Schade said.

She can easily work up to 80 hours a week but is not going to.

One of the things she has started in the agendas is to include staff reports so that questions and anything extra needed prior to the meeting can be done.

“I can preemptively answer questions that might come up,” Schade said.

This is to help the planning and zoning board and move the meetings along.

She has also started to tackle organizing and printing plats plus maps for use with projects or figuring out different types of parcels.

“I like to have original plans for house owners,” Schade said.

That way when secondary house owners or other people come in they can have access to what was originally approved by planning and zoning commission.

“Say you buy an existing house and you’re having issues or want to remodel or want to know where something is or how it is foundationally, hopefully we have that information,” Schade said.

On Jan. 11, Schade was drafting a new ordinance for the planning and zoning commissioners meeting about the prohibition of unmuffled engine compression brakes. The noise the trucks make has been something that citizens have complained about for years. Many local municipalities have been reluctant to adopt laws banning unmuffled engine braking due to concerns about enforceability and potential litigation.

“It will be beneficial from a citizens standpoint,” Schade said.

Later on Jan. 11 she also had three inspections to do. There are 4-5 projects she has been working on for the planning and zoning commission. Eight active inspections are in various stages in Hill City too.

She said as far as enforcement of codes she is impartial and likes to come to a win-win for both parties. If there is something that deals with protecting the safety or welfare of citizens, it has to be enforced.

“I will not be intimidated because a person may have several businesses. If there is a code they are breaking, I will get that resolved,” Schade said.

Schade started at her position in the beginning of December. She is originally from Cleveland, Ohio but has been in the area for the past six years. Her love of the Black Hills brought her to the area.

For one year, she helped the planning department in Custer. Her role right now is very similar to what she was doing but zoning is new to her since Custer doesn’t zone.

She said she is up for the challenge. Hill City could use more employees because there is a lot to do.