The Parsons Planning Commission on Tuesday ruled favorably on a zoning change for a new greenhouse and retail building at Olson’s Ace Hardware.

The planners voted to recommend that property at the store be rezoned from multi-family residential (R-3) and central business (C-2) to service commercial (C-3). The Parsons City Commission likely will approve the recommendation in its Oct. 5 regular meeting.

Ace Hardware owner Ben Ryan said the store plans to build a new 30-foot by 48-foot polypropylene greenhouse on the property just north of the store. Ace Hardware also may possibly build a retail building with storage and a new parking lot on the property, Ryan said.

The lots have been used for about 20 years as the display area for plants and flowers, and there already is a greenhouse there. When Ryan told city staff about his plans so he could get a building permit, he found out the property wasn’t properly zoned. The planners quickly agreed it should be service commercial.

Laura Moore, the city’s community development director, told the planning commission that she suggested service commercial instead of central business district, as the store is zoned, because the lots are across the alley and farther away from the downtown area. Also, Moore said, a greenhouse is a listed use in service commercial district.

Ryan said he plans to get started on the project soon and hopefully have it completed by the end of the year.


Comprehensive plan

In another issue on Tuesday, the planning commission agreed to present a proposal to the city commission on Oct. 1 for a 10-year comprehensive plan for the city along with updated zoning regulations.

The planning commission in August recommended a proposal from Verdunity Inc., Dallas, at a cost of $106,200. City commissioners seemed excited about working with the company even though it did not submit the lowest bid for the project. The original proposal, however, did not include updated zoning regulations, so Moore asked the company for a price.

On Tuesday, Moore said Verdunity gave the city three options, two of which included zoning regulations. The planning commission opted for a package that included the comprehensive plan, zoning regulations and land-use fiscal assessment at a cost of $170,000.

Moore noted that the cost was well over what the city has budgeted, but planner Richard Babcock said hopefully some money could come from the economic development fund. Jim Zaleski, economic development director, has said he also favors Verdunity. If economic development money can’t help fund the plan, Babcock said perhaps updated zoning regulations can be added later.

The city has budgeted $50,000 for 2020 and another $50,000 for 2021.

The city has not adopted a comprehensive plan since 2000. That plan expired in 2010, but the city updated it with amended information in 2018. By statute, the city should implement a new plan every 10 years, but the state doesn’t enforce the mandate.

The planning commission recommended a contract with Gould Evans, Kansas City, Missouri, along with updated zoning regulations in October 2018, but city commissioners discussed it for months before eventually deciding not to hire Gould Evans. The company submitted a proposal for $99,435.

“Slowly but surely maybe we’re making some progress,” Sharon Kendrick, chairperson of the planning commission, said Tuesday.

In 2018 city staff and planning commissioners disagreed on which should be developed first. The city staff wanted the zoning regulations updated first, but the planning commission thought the new comprehensive plan would affect zoning regulations.

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