By Nick Nunn, Staff Writer

The Morgan County Planning Commission recommended the approval of a set of zoning ordinance amendments related to Historic Sites and Museums during their Oct. 24 regular meeting.

Madison City Planner Bryce Jaeck stated that the proposed amendments arose from a “long discussion with the public” and that the Planning Commission is “only addressing a limited scope of the ordinances” that will ultimately also govern tours of private residences.

The proposed amendments are broken into four sections. The first creates definitions for the terms “Historic Site/Museum” and “Tour Service Offers.”

The definition for Historic Site/Museum reads, “a property and/or building of historic significance operated as a permanent, staffed institution and open to the public on a regular schedule,” and the definition for Tour Service Offices is “premises used by licensed tour operators to coordinate tours and provide guides and/or tourist information.”

The second section would rename the residential land use category previously known as “tourism” to “tourism attractions” and preclude its use in R2 zones. The third section would amend the commercial land use chart by eliminating the group and private tour of homes principal use categories while creating “historic sites and museums” and amending the “tour service” use to “tour service offices.”

The fourth and lengthiest paragraph would add a section to the ordinances describing Historic Site and Museum regulations.

To be considered a historic site and museum, the property must be designated as “historic, worthy of preservation, and of public significance as an individual resource.”

The property would also have to have a minimum area of 3 acres in any residential zone or .25 acres in any non-residential zone. On-site parking and adequate buffers will be necessary for properties in residential zones, and no properties that have previously been used as a residence in a residential zone may be listed as a historic site and museum.

Additionally, a historic museum would have to be “owned and operated by a nonprofit organization… with a board of trustees or directors to oversee its operation and management…”

The incidental sale of goods would be permitted as an accessory use. Jaeck noted that the Madison-Morgan Cultural Center is the only property that is a “historic site and museum” in a residential zone.

The other historic site/museums in Madison are not in residential zones. Stratton Hicky addressed the Planning Commission briefly to discuss his concerns with the working draft of the ordinances as they relate to tours of private homes, but Planning Commission Chair Brian Lehman informed Hicky that private home tours were not addressed in the ordinances that the Planning Commission was asked to address.

“It has nothing to do with private homes,” said Lehman.

The Planning Commission also recommended approval for a variance request at 668 North Main Street, Madison, to allow an accessory structure to be built closer than 15 feet to the main structure.

The applicant desires to replace an existing detached garage, which is only ten feet from the main structure, with a new garage that will be 12 feet from the main structure.