City Council discusses appeal, allows for code exception

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SHERIDAN — After an hour of discussion, Sheridan City Council voted 4-3 to uphold an appeal from a city resident challenging a Board of Appeals requirement that they install a handrail on a set of stairs leading to their newly constructed porch. This means the residents, Scott and Cheryl Phinney, will not be required to install a handrail.

Mayor Dave Kinskey, Council President John Heath and Councilman Robert Webster voted against the appeal. Council members Jesus Rios, Shelleen Smith, Kristin Kelly and Alex Lee voted to support the Phinneys’ appeal.

The problem resulted when the Phinneys submitted plans for a new porch to the city building department. The original plans included a handrail, but the Phinneys changed their mind and decided they did not desire a handrail.

However, the development included four risers, three steps and the top landing, and thus, by city code, was required to have a handrail. The Phinneys made an appeal for the requirement to the Board of Appeals, which is comprised of building professionals. The Board of Appeals upheld the handrail requirement, so the Phinneys decided to ask City Council for an exception.

Attorney David Smith represented the Phinneys and asked the council to use common sense and see that the stairs were plenty safe without a handrail, especially since they were wider and shallower than normal.

Council discussion continued for more than an hour and included parsing details of dimensions and whether the city could be held responsible for not upholding code if an accident occurred on the stairs.

Earlier in the meeting, City Council spent approximately 15 minutes on their second meeting of city and county officials. This second city/county meeting came after City Human Resources Director Heather Doke delivered a presentation on firefighter compensation that was almost identical to the presentation she gave at the April 21 City Council work session.

Doke confirmed that it was the same presentation and that she had been asked to give it again because of the complicated nature of the information.

In other business, City Council voted 7-0 to approve an annexation of property on the corner of KROE Lane and East Ridge Road for the development of a FedEx sorting and distribution center. The annexation was approved on third and final reading.

The council also approved on first reading an ordinance to amend subdivision regulations pertaining to planned unit developments. Changes included requiring a PUD master plan to guide development rather than the ambiguous conceptual design and conceptual design report used previously, City Planning and Development Director Robert Briggs said.

Another change included elimination of the concept of a PUD overlay, although city resident Nel Dahmke said in a presentation to council that the language was still too ambiguous.

The amended PUD ordinance will require two more readings to be finalized.

By |May 6th, 2014|

About the Author:

Hannah Sheely is the digital content editor at The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.