The Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission spoke at a Fiscal Court meeting regarding recent updates made to the planning and zoning laws for the City and County. According to OMPC Director Brian Howard, these changes were made to outdated ordinances in order to benefit the community.
“We went through old ordinances and looked at outdated things,” Howard said. “We made changes to select ordinances after meeting with the City and County. We make amendments that will benefit the community.”
Some of these zoning changes include text amendments that will allow bourbon barrels to be stored in warehouses in agriculturally-zoned areas rather than in I-2 industrial zones. This amendment came after local distillery O.Z. Tyler spent months trying to find space to build a new line of rickhouses, only to decide to build them in Ohio County after failing to find space with the proper zoning requirements. The County lost out on $500,000 in annual tax revenue due to the distillery’s decision to build outside the county.
Another zoning text amendment made this year included updating parking for multi-family homes, wherein street parking now fulfills the zoning requirements through a conditional use permit. Before this amendment was passed, it was required that new multi-family homes must be equipped with offsite parking in order to be built.
In all, 41 zoning changes were made last year, Howard said, including 21 in the county and 17 in the city.
“We felt very positive about those changes,” Howard said.
Last year, 893 building permits were issued, which were split evenly between the City and County. Over 6,000 inspections were completed last year as well. Howard said that high number of inspections comes from only three full-time inspectors who work for OMPC.
“All three are trained on building, electric and HVAC. They can do all three at the same time on these buildings,” Howard said. “It’s more efficient, and our inspectors are very busy.”
6,000 inspections made between three people puts the inspectors at an average of one inspection per hour for the entire year.
Howard said OMPC is operating under the 2018 building code and the 2017 electric code, both set by the state. However, Owensboro and Daviess County are able to have inspections done locally, which saves weeks of time. One thing that’s changed, Howard said, is education-related inspections which, as of this year, must be reviewed at the state level.
“The state has taken back anything education-related this year,” Howard said.