Bare spots on home lawns could establish a parking area, placing it under requirements for covering under changes being considered to the city parking ordinance by the Cabot Planning Commission at the Dec. 4 meeting.

Other considerations included a special use permit for an indoor shooting range, site plan waivers and a rezoning.

Chairman James Reid and commissioners Darryl Tullos, Nancy Cohea, Dennis Hiland, Jerrol Maxwell, Chuck Prater and Claude Irwin attended the meeting.

James Walden, city planning consultant, reviewed the changes recommended to the city parking ordinance, which he said better establishes an area as a parking area.

While the changes would predominantly affect businesses, homeowners would also be affected.

Under “Establishment of Parking,” off-street parking would considered permanent when used once every seven days over 30 days, or “as evidenced by signs of consistent use … by creation of a barren spot on the ground.”

Walden noted that the changes do not prohibit temporary use on grassy areas. “Parking on grass, on a temporary basis, would not be prohibited,” he said.

But, once considered permanent, a parking spot must be covered/paved, Walden said. Under the change, an off-street parking space at a residence could be graveled.

Reid said the benefit of the change would be to require a covering while avoiding directing use of private property. The ordinance now just calls for a hard surface, he said.

In other matters, commissioners approved a waiver for boundary improvements, for the new Central Fire Station at the southwest corner of the intersection of South Second Street and Richey Road. The site plan, itself, was approved at the October commission meeting.

Walden, in brief, described the planned fire station as 1,900 square feet, with primary access from Richie Road with emergency access to Second Street, including a parking agreement with Re:New Church.

Consideration of plans by Unlimited Firearms & Outfitters included a waiver to required boundary improvements at 201 South 10th St., and a special-use permit as an indoor shooting range. Details of the boundary improvements were considered and allowed during a Board of Adjustments hearing held prior to the Commission meeting.

Concerning the special use permit, Walden said codes call for such a permit in instances of requiring out-of-ordinary precautions for safety and mitigation of noise. “Obviously you don’t want bullets going through walls …” he remarked. The site plan includes “significant measures” including insulation to cope with noise, Walden said.

Tim Lemons, of Lemons Engineering Consultants, explained the building specifications are to cope with a .30 bullet travelling at 3,600 feet per second, a speed which is difficult to achieve.

The noise insulation is like that of Arkansas Armory at Sherwood, which reduces the sound to the point being nearly not heard outside the building, Lemons said. “You can … stand outside the building and not hear the shots,” he said.

Responding to a question, city attorney Jimmy Taylor said that while city ordinance prohibits discharging a firearm within city limits, provisions are made for such a range.

Discussion included smoke removal, controlled access concerning children in the facility and parking.

The commissioners voted to approve both requests by Unlimited Firearms & Outfitters.

The Commission also considered the “enclave” annexation of 2231 Willie Ray Dr. An “enclave” is property that is surrounded by city limits, but is not annexed into the city.

Harry Marshall, a representative the family that owns the land, spoke against the annexation. Referring to a code enforcement letter concerning the action, “We really just don’t want to be bothered,” he remarked. Plans are to sell the land, and leave the annexation to the new owner, Marshall said.

Reid said a public hearing about the annexation would be held, all comments concerning the annexation would be given to the City Council for consideration.

Rezone request, from C-2 to Planned Unit Development (PUD) for Aberdour Addition, at the corner of Arnold Palmer and Greystone Blvd.

Lemons said the nearly 7-acre subdivision would include, among other requirements, 34 homes, single-family detached homes, have a property owners association, and would target the market for “high-end” homes and those not wanting lawn maintenance. Street and fence maintenance would fall to the POA.

The request was approved, with Hiland and Maxwell voting against.

In a meeting prior to the Commission regular meeting, the Commissioners, acting as the Board of Adjustments, approved two actions.

A site plan variance for Unlimited Firearms and Outfitters, for a planned store at 201 S. 10th St. was approved. The variance waives the required 10-foot perimeter landscape buffer and reduction of interior landscaping requirements due to existing site and building limitations. Walden recommended the approval, explaining the property was developed before current planning requirements were in place, and listed improvements that have been made to the extent that conditions permit.

Commissioners also approved a site plan variance for Next Generation Physical Therapy, 100 Gateway Dr., allowing the required 10-foot landscape buffer be reduced to 4.7 feet. Walden explained the property was developed prior to the land being annexed into the city. While a 10-foot area exists, that will be reduced when sidewalks are put in place, Walden said. Landscaping has been made to the extent that conditions permit; meeting the full requirement would create a “substantial hardship,” he said.