AURORA – Two businesses in the city’s southern industrial zone are planning additions to their facilities, and they received preliminary and final site plan approvals from the planning commission Oct. 16.

ILPEA Industries/OEM Miller plans to add 32,680 square feet at its 10.4-acre parcel on Danner Drive, while R.P. Gatta Inc. plans to add 18,000 square feet at its four-acre parcel on Gentry Drive. Curtis Layer Design-Build will design and erect the additions.

OEM Miller was granted a 69-space parking exemption because a Curtis Layer representative said the addition will house warehouse space and there will be few additional employees, thus the extra parking space is unneeded.

The Board of Zoning Appeals granted the following variances for the OEM Miller project at its Aug. 14 meeting: Dock doors must be front facing, trucks must enter and exit in a forward-facing direction and parking must be located within the required front building setback.

For the Gatta project, the BZA granted the following variances: Off street parking is allowed 16 feet from the public right-of-way and a 10-foot rear yard setback is permitted.

OEM Miller fabricates corrugated plastic and rubber tubing for a variety of industries, including appliances, trucks and autos, medical and machining manufacturing. R.P. Gatta is an engineering firm which custom designs equipment for the automotive, off-road agricultural/mining/construction, tire, aerospace and engine/powertrain industries.

In other action, planning panelists discussed updates to various chapters of the codified ordinances dealing with planning, zoning and building regulations, including property maintenance standards, rental unit registration, the architectural board of review, mixed use district, permits and fees and the building code.

Planning-Zoning-Building Director Denise Januska said she is still looking for comments from other city officials and boards before the updates go to the planning panel for final approval.

One of the chapters which most affects the public focuses on property maintenance standards, something city officials have struggled with for the last several years. Stringent maintenance codes have been proposed in the past, but never enacted.

The currently drafted standards focus on structural soundness and exterior walls of homes, painting, rubbish storage, landscaping, accessory structures and infestation. Under penalty provisions, a change would allow the city to assess the cost of abatement of a violation to the property owner’s tax duplicate.

"Property maintenance is an important aspect of the city’s enforcement policies," explained Law Director Dean DePiero. "The goal is to get compliance so property values are kept up to standards.

"With these simple maintenance regulations, we want to work as best we can with owners to get their properties fixed up, and this chapter would be a tool to do that. We are not trying to use Gestapo tactics here.

"The worst cases we might have to take to court, but we hope owners will keep their properties in decent shape so it doesn’t come to that."

Councilman Harold Hatridge admitted the city has seen some problems with unkempt properties over the years, and he agreed regulations are needed, but not the extensive measures which have been proposed in the past.

"The less intrusive, the better," he said. "This one-page chapter of the code seems reasonable. It establishes some guidelines without going too far."

Meanwhile, a change in the ordinance dealing with the mixed use zoning district change would require that residential density be calculated at 2 ½ units per buildable acre, and not on the overall acreage of the land to be developed.

City officials and residents have questioned the calculation method for previously approved developments – such as Pulte Homes’ proposed project north of Treat Road – noting that the green space set aside causes the density to rise past 2 ½ units on the buildable acreage.

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