Local News

Sebring debates whether to regulate appearance of metal buildings

SEBRING - Years ago, the development of some metal buildings in Sebring raised concerns about the need for an attractive entry way to the city. Jim Polatty, Sebring planning director, said that resulted in an ordinance that required the developer of a metal building to take measures to make it more attractive, such as by adding stucco. But more recently the issues of making the city more attractive verses reducing regulations on businesses surfaced when the City Council delayed action on a proposed ordinance that would require developers of businesses - depending on the size of the building - to take nine steps to make the structure more appealing. Those could include arches, a porch, a pitched roof and attractive doors, among others.
At a meeting this week of the Sebring City Council and the Sebring Planning and Zoning Commission, Polatty was essentially told to rework the ordinance. Two city council members present, John Clark and Andrew Fells, said they opposed most regulations on design. Fells said he would allow the Community Redevelopment Agency to decide on the downtown area. Council members John Griffin and Scott Stanley and Mayor George Hensley, who does not vote, say they would support some level of regulation. Clark opposed any regulations on aesthetics of the buildings, saying "Government should have no rule." He said the aim is to be more accommodating to business. Zoning deals with what type of development is being put on a land parcel, he said. But Griffin said he has no problems with metal buildings as long as steps are taken to make the structures look attractive. Stanley favored minimal regulation, but added the city could choose not to regulate. Down the road, the results of that would become apparent, he said. Charlotte Pressler, head of the city's historic preservation board, voiced concerns about relaxing regulations on metal buildings in the downtown area. Kelly Cosgrave, who is chairwoman of the CRA board, said she believes the board should continue to have the authority for design reviews. Another issue brought up at the meeting was whether the city should regulate other types of buildings, such as concrete block. Fells said he would leave the CRA alone, but would not favor restrictions in commercial zoning areas elsewhere. "I feel like we're over-regulating what people can do in commercial zoning zones," he said. jmeisel@highlandstoday.com (863) 386-5834