P&Z moves ahead in style

By Carol Walker

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The Hill City Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) has been involved in an ongoing discussion regarding architectural styles to include in the building code for Hill City. Dani Schade, development services coordinator, reported to the commission that as a result of her continued research, she would like to add “Mountain Style” to the list. She would also like to separate “Log Cabin” from “National Park Service Rustic Style.”

She said the code for Hill City now calls for stone and wood to be included in the architecture of new buildings and new exterior construction that requires a building permit. As the city seeks to continue to foster and develop a distinct look, the commission has discussed a variety of styles that come from a ist put out by the state that are purported to be the styles in West River. That working list for Hill City has been narrowed to include the three aforementioned along with Early 20th Century Commercial, Old West False Front, Stick/East Lake, Tudor Revival, Beaux Arts, Queen Anne, Victorian and Italianate.

In delving into the history of Hill City, Schade has found things to be altered due to two fires in the past and, for instance, the Black Hills Institute was a WPA built building, but the outside was changed over time.

“The next meeting will be a working meeting for us, and then a public meeting will be held on May 7,” said Schade.

She went on to ask Kathy Skorzewski, city council member and liaison between P&Z and the council, what her gut feeling is regarding the council’s thoughts on this issue.

“I think they are just looking for more clarity. I reported this, and there was not much discussion,” said Skorzewski.

Schade also reported on the discussions that ensued during the last Commercial Zoning Committee meeting. As they attempt to more clearly define commercial zoning in Hill City, the committee is looking at four factors: density, intensity, environmental aesthetics and footprint. They are leaning towards establishing four or five examples in each commercial category, leaving it purposely vague to allow for future discussions as the town grows and changes.

Brett McMacken, city administrator, was asked about the status of the housing study for Hill City. This study will be funded half by the state and half by Hill City and conducted by Steve Griesert, a consultant for Community Partners Research.

“I received the agreement today and will take it to the city council for the next meeting. We have much of the data he needs. He could have a rough draft done by early June. He has already done 90 studies in South Dakota. That is about a third of the towns in the state,” said McMacken

“What is the ultimate goal for this study? What do we hope to gain?” asked Dale Householder, P&Z chairman.

McMacken said it will help determine what is needed in terms of housing in Hill City, and it could open the door to grant money. There are grants out there, but they require a housing study as the first step.

“It will give insight as to how to use money when it comes to housing. It is not a magic wand, but it inherently gives us a common focus for Hill City,” said McMacken.

He was also asked about the status of the sidewalk project for Main St. He said Hill City received the plan that had been submitted to the state and there were about 300 comments on it from 26 engineers who looked at the 112-page document.

“These were not necessarily engineering comments, but nit-picking comments on style and format. I called the state and asked what the major things are that need to be done,” said McMacken.

One thing brought up was the ADA ramp near Granite Sports, which the state says is not perfect. McMacken and City Engineer Kale McNaboe, both believe the plan will make it 90 percent better than it currently is.

Though the state controls oversight on the project, once the schedule is set, everything will be local. McMacken believes bids will be let later this spring.

“Work will begin after the tourist season. We certainly don’t want to kill our economic engine by working on it in the summer,” said McMacken.

McMacken also reported on CodeRED, a community notification system that the city is implementing. It provides phone, text, Facebook and email alerts for important information that affects households in the community. McMacken and Carla Sheldon, city finance officer, have taken training, and Dennis Schrier, public works director, will do likewise in the near future.

Residents are encouraged to register contact information at www.hillcitysd.org where they should find the government tab and select CodeRED in the drop down menu.

In other business, the P&Z approved a building permit at 825 Major Lake Dr. and an excavation permit for 23970 Hwy 385.

The next P&Z meeting is scheduled for Monday, Apr. 16, at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.

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