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One business owner’s plan for a new shop in southern Norfolk was denied Tuesday morning by the Norfolk Planning Commission.

Ignacio Machuca, owner of I & P Construction, said to the commission that he wanted to use the large lot on the southeast corner of Jackson Avenue and South Fifth Street for a new shop for his construction business, and applied for a zone change at the property from residential to industrial to accommodate those plans.

But several neighbors raised some concerns, citing the lack of industrial zoning in that area and how the increased industrial traffic would affect residents and travelers who use the roads in the neighborhood to visit nearby Ta-Ha-Zouka Park.

One neighbor said he thought the city had barred “spot zoning,” which when a small area is changed to a different zone compared to other properties around it. But one property directly to the northwest is zoned as industrial, which planning commission chairman Dan Spray said technically means it would not be an example of spot zoning if it were to be changed.

Another neighbor, Chris Clausen, said the area is better suited to residential homes, not business.

“I don’t support this change,” Clausen said. “That is an area better suited for residential, and always has been residential for as long as I can remember.”

Clausen also said that other neighbors have sought to change the zone of the lot, but have failed.

Spray said that he nor any of the current commission members would be in a position to explain why an application years ago was denied.

“Even within the last two years, the city has changed a lot,” Spray said.

Commission members were eventually swayed by the neighbors’ arguments. A motion was made to put the application to a vote and it was subsequently denied by a 6-1 vote, with Jacob Thone casting the sole vote in favor.

The Norfolk Planning Commission met Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at the Norfolk City Council Chambers.

Commission members present: Frank Arens, Matt Gilmore, Kyle Deets, Jacob Thone, Martin Griffith, Dirk Waite, Dan Spray.

Commission members absent: Mary Hammond, Zack Gangwer.

Meeting lasted: 40 minutes.

Others in attendance: City staff, three; media representatives, two; and 10 from the public.

Action Items:

The planning commission removed an item from the regular agenda prior to approving the full agenda.

The commission held a public hearing at the request of Ray T. Clausen Estate to consider a zoning change from R-1 (Single Family Residential) to I-1 (Light Industrial) at the intersection of Jackson Avenue and South Fifth Street. Several members of the public spoke to the commissioners.

A motion to approve the zoning change failed by a 6-1 vote, with Thone the only approving vote.

The commission unanimously approved the final plat of Blackberry Heights Second Addition.

The commission received the November and December 2019 building permit report.

Commissioners discussed ongoing housing projects under construction at Nor-Park and Legacy Bend during an open discussion period.

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