On the third and final reading of an ordinance change to allow auto sales within the neighborhood commercial district, it was brought to the attention of the Newton City Council verbiage within the change potentially did not align with a new state regulation.
Earlier this year, the Planning and Zoning Commission reviewed a proposal by Morris Motors to amend the zoning code to allow auto sales as a conditional use with the neighborhood commercial or C-N district. The C-N district is a mixed use district that has residential and light commercial uses within it. City of Newton Planning and Zoning director Erin Chambers said the commission sees the district functioning as a buffer between heavier commercial zoning into primarily residential neighborhoods.
In recent weeks, city staff has found when reviewing state requirements there is a conflict with the item listed as “facility for reconditioning and repairing motor vehicles. A motor vehicle dealer’s principal place of business shall include a facility for reconditioning and repairing motor vehicles. The facility shall be an area that: is within a building.”
“In order to obtain a dealer’s license from the Iowa DOT to sell motor vehicles, a number of requirements must be met,” Chambers said. “One of those requirements, as shown in the State Code Section is to have a space to be able to repair and recondition at least one vehicle on-site.”
Chambers said while it could be possible for an auto dealership to meet the requirements of both the newly proposed local ordinance and the state code by providing a repair space that isn’t ever used, she recommended and council agreed it would be better to review the proposed new language and determine if adjustments can be made to have new language that aligns with state regulations while still protecting the neighborhoods.
Additional city criteria the dealership must follow includes:
• The property upon which the auto sales uses must be at least .25 acres in size.
• No auto body, auto maintenance or auto repair will be conducted on-site.
• The subject property upon which the auto sales use is to be located shall have a residential use abutting no more than two property lines.
• Operation shall be no later than 6 p.m. and no earlier than 7 a.m., only on Monday through Friday.
• Parking area shall be asphalt or concrete, no gravel.
• All lighting for the business shall not constitute a nuisance to the neighborhood and shall be downcast.
• A transitional yard or privacy fence may be required to provide a buffer and screening to adjacent properties.
The planning and zoning commission along with city staff will continue to review the requirements and work towards allowing the business to fill the long-time vacant building.
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