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City using zoning proposal to toughen nuisance laws

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By Molly Haines

Although the front page of an ordinance the City of Owenton has been reviewing reads “Zoning for the City of Owenton,” Owenton Mayor David “Milkweed” Wotier said it’s simply a means to toughen up the city’s current nuisance ordinance.

The Owenton City Council has been reviewing the zoning ordinance, which the mayor has been referring to as a nuisance ordinance.

Wotier said the terminology for the two has been used loosely.

“The zoning ordinance we’re looking at incorporates a lot of nuisance,” Wotier said. “We’re trying to put more backbone into the nuisance ordinance and updating the zoning helps us do that. When all is said and done, we want to look at the nuisance and then the zoning and make sure one complements the other and not contradicts.”

Wotier said a zoning ordinance has been in place within the City of Owenton long before he became mayor.

“We have a zoning ordinance already,” Wotier said. “It just has not been touched or updated since about 1968. Some of the updates we could make may not affect us now, but who knows what will happen in 15 or 20 years. We’re looking toward the future of our city.”

Wotier said because the City of Owenton already has a zoning ordinance, he feels little will change.

“Some of the things in this updated ordinance are more qualified or tailored for subdivisions instead of our small town,” Wotier said. “We’ve totally slashed through certain things because so much of it just doesn’t apply to us.”

Wotier said two of the biggest issues that are being looked at closely in the new ordinance are swimming pools and double-wide mobile homes.

“Just this past weekend on the news I saw where two small children had died in swimming pool accidents,” Wotier said. “... A baby can drown in two inches of water and we don’t want something like that to happen here. We want to be able to enforce rules before someone gets injured or possibly killed.

In this zoning ordinance it says that we can’t have double-wides. We’re really looking closely at that one because I just don’t know that that’s a fair way of going about things.”

Wotier said zoning districts are already implemented within the city and the nuisance ordinance enforcement board could also act as a planning and zoning board.

“There won’t be any new costs with this updated zoning ordinance,” Wotier said. “We already have a building inspector. That’s mandated by the state. The enforcement board is a voluntary thing. The people on that board are people who have a vested interest in the beauty and benefits of the city.”

Wotier said before any decisions are made regarding the zoning ordinance, a public hearing will be held.

“We’ll have a public hearing and the ordinance will be made available so the people can read and understand exactly what’s going on,” Wotier said. “I think we’ve got a good plan. The council is more interested in putting thought into this and not just slapping something together to get it passed. We don’t want to appear as dictators trying to tell people what to do with their property, but we do want to preserve the wholesomeness of our community.”

Wotier said he hopes the residents of Owenton will understand the council’s decisions.

“We try to make every decision for the people’s safety, well-being and protection,” Wotier said. “This situation isn’t any different and I hope everyone understands that.”