Commercial architectural review ordinance passes

Authored by Jim Langham on Feb 12, 2014

After several revisions, the Berne City Council unanimously passed an architectural review ordinance for the City of Berne at Monday’s regular scheduled meeting.
The purpose of the ordinance is to encourage the construction of attractive buildings which create recognizably themed places by the designation of architectural review districts to protect and promote the general welfare and prevent deterioration of the appearance of the city.
The ordinance notes that all proposed construction shall be in compliance with the ordinances of the city specifically including zoning ordinance, site plan ordinance, sign ordinance, commercial architectural review ordinance and landscape requirements ordinance.
Enforcement of the goals of the ordinance will be strengthened by the establishment of the Architectural Review Committee that consists of seven individuals including, the zoning administrator, who will act as the committee’s chairman; mayor; city council member; two members of the plan commission; and two other citizens from the general population of the city.
The common council member, the two members of the planning commission and the two other citizens shall each serve for a two-year term or until a successor has been appointed.
“The terms of the initially appointed members shall be staggered with one citizen member of the City of Berne Plan Commission and one other citizen member being appointed for an initial term of one year,” states the ordinance.
Council members noted that the reason for the staggering is to keep solid understanding of the committee’s purpose in tact, especially during times of switching of committee members.
The ordinance states that the function of the committee is to review site plans, construction plans and implement the provisions of the ordinance. The committee is also in charge of reviewing the proposed construction.
“All such procedures shall be approved by the mayor and council prior to being used,” states the ordinance.
The ordinance also establishes a point system to give incentive for construction of Swiss design. Points are awarded on the basis of signage, flower boxes, shutters, gingerbread, cantons, earth tone colors, stucco, arched doorways, balconies, high profile shingles, heavy shake shingles, tile, simulated tile and low pitched overhangs.
If, after examination by the review committee, the proposed plan accumulates 20 points, the building permit fees are waived. If 35 points are accrued, the building permit and tap fees are waived, and if the application is awarded 50 points, the building permit, tap fees and development plan fees are waived.

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