Polson City Commission tables vote on zoning request
POLSON – After a public hearing on the issue, the Polson City Commission decided to look into alternatives before deciding whether to accept or deny a zone change request for the lot where the Polson Animal Clinic is located.
The veterinary clinic is located on Seventh Avenue West across from the Polson Sports Complex. This land is currently designated as Resort Zoned. Animal clinics do not conform to resort zoning regulations. However, the clinic has existed since before the zoning was implemented, so it has been permitted to operate.
The future of Polson Animal Clinic is in jeopardy because the current owners of the property, Frank and Amy Frazer, have applied to subdivide their property. According to the Polson Development Code, land cannot be subdivided if it does not conform to zoning regulations. Because the Polson Animal Clinic does not comply with the Resort Zoning requirements, the owners cannot subdivide their land without changing the zoning of the animal clinic lot.
In order to preserve the animal clinic in its current location, a representative for the property owners applied to change the zoning on the lot where Polson Animal Clinic sits from Resort Zoned to Commercial Industrial Zoned.
The City-County Planning Board held a public hearing on the issue on May 8. The board came to a tie in their vote on whether to recommend that the commission approve the zone change request.
At the commission meeting, City Planner Kyle Roberts said that the city staff recommended the commission deny the request. He said that the zone change does not comply with the Polson Growth Policy, a visionary document created by the community to guide growth in the city. That document designated the area where the clinic exists as resort or residential. Roberts also said that the request would be a case of “spot zoning,” where the zoning designation is made to accommodate a small number of landowners, and is incongruent with adjacent lots. Roberts expressed concern that if the animal clinic closes, another business could move onto the lot that “would not be compatible with the residential area.”
Eight members of the public spoke during the public hearing before the commission meeting on May 21.
Cathie Tyler, co-owner of Polson Animal Clinic, said that she hoped to reach a conclusion that was beneficial to the city, the property owners, and her business.
Others who spoke at the hearing proposed solutions to the situation that included re-defining Resort Zoning, and creating a special use permit for the clinic. Others questioned the definition of “spot zoning.”
Some community members spoke about the importance of allowing the clinic to continue to serve the community.
“You may be changing the zoning just for the vet clinic but there sure are a lot of people who benefit from the vet clinic being there,” said one citizen.
Mayor Paul Briney said that he supported the animal clinic remaining in place, but was concerned that the commercial zoning could allow another, more disruptive business to move onto the lot after the animal clinic closes.
“I don’t want to have to end up coming back here in 8, 9 years and seeing that there’s a Bitcoin facility in that spot,” he said.
All commission members present voted to table the vote.
“I would like the owners to know and accept that we are working with you and for you,” Commissioner Stephen Turner said.
The zone change request will be put to a vote at a future commission meeting.