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Sioux Falls Zoning Ordinances Need Better Flexibility


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO AM) – City Zoning Ordinances are a fact of life whether you live in Sioux Falls, a major city or even a small town.  Some people think they are invasive and definitely hard to understand.  Sioux Falls City Councilman Kermit Staggers couldn’t agree more and is trying to do something about it with Sioux Falls Shape Places.

“Since 1926, we have had zoning in Sioux Falls and the latest zoning modification we have had was done in 1983,” said Staggers.  “In the past few years, we have seen that we need some modification and more flexibility in our zoning ordinances and that’s what Shape Sioux Falls is all about.”

Staggers emphasized that people in Sioux Falls need the flexibility to use their property the way they want to.  He explained that for someone who owns a business along Minnesota Avenue, they can’t also live in that business.  Someone came to Staggers and said they want to have a business on the bottom of a building and live on the top floor and he had to tell them no.  Staggers said it felt strange to tell someone who owns a building what they can and can’t do with it. 

“Shape Sioux Falls is a complex piece of legislation, hundreds of pages long,” Said Staggers.  “When you read something this big, you are going to find things that you think are great and things not so great.”

Staggers was a little conflicted about Shape Places but ultimately voted for it.  When we talk about zoning, we are talking about controls and we want to have as few controls on people as possible.  Staggers said that Shape Sioux Falls is providing more flexibility and fewer controls that what we have right now.

“If you are going to build in Sioux Falls, the new Shape Places Ordinance lays out what you can do and can’t do from the outset,” said Staggers.  “Right now with the present ordinance, you may have an idea what you want to do, but you can make changes and people can come and testify supporting one thing or another.” 

Staggers was surprised to see Sioux Falls Shape Places referred to a referendum. He couldn’t believe the people were able to get the thousands of signatures needed in just 15 to 20 days.  The City Clerk couldn’t recall a time when this had happened and staggers called this a remarkable accomplishment.  The feeling on the City Council is a lot of this is being fueled by the proposed Walmart. 

“Walmart is a business too,” said Staggers.  “We shouldn’t expect them to have to do things an ordinary citizen doesn’t have to do.  We have to treat big businesses and small businesses the same.  There are those who don’t like a business like Walmart, but there are those who do.” 

Staggers said that the residents at 85th and Minnesota don’t think a Walmart is necessary there.  Walmart on the other hand thinks it’s a good place.  If there were a homeowners association to buy the land, Walmart couldn’t build there and they could do what they wanted to with the land.  This is a classic example where they don’t own the land and are trying to tell the people who own the land what to do with it. 

Staggers said that Sioux Falls Shape Places will come to a vote around April 8th of next year.  People need to understand, this will give people the freedom to operate their own property the way they want to.  It seems like a simple way to do things, but sometimes we don’t make things so simple. 

Sioux Falls City Councilman Kermit Staggers was a guest on the Greg Belfrage Show May 10, 2013.