After more than an hour of presentation, public comment and discussion, members of the Hastings Planning Commission approved allowing the Pine Patch Christmas Tree Farm to construct a new barn for existing uses as well as the added use of neighborhood assembly for other special events throughout the year.

Commission members voted 6-1 at their regular meeting Tuesday to recommend approval of the conditional use permit amendment resolution. Commission alternate Willis Hunt dissented.

Applicants Joe and Nikayla Kindig are the new owners of the Christmas tree farm at 780 E. 26th St.

They are seeking to replace the existing barn on the property with a new 2,846-square-foot barn. Former City Building Inspector Mark Evans determined the capacity should be 99 people.

The hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. No alcohol is permitted

The commission placed three conditions on the application:

— The private easement must be updated, tied to the land and new owners, and indicate its continued usage only for the Christmas tree portion of the business.

— Since pedestrians may walk across the driveways as they view and select trees, the Kindigs must place signage to caution drivers that pedestrians may be in the area.

— For assembly neighborhood uses, an amendment will be required if alcohol is added, music is added to events other than the Christmas tree business events or there is a change in hours of operation.

There were a few neighbors of Pine Patch who expressed concerns, including added traffic.

“I don’t think we need a big building out there to have a bunch of people running in and out on 26th Street,” said Roger Duering of 880 E. 26th St.

Commission members Ann Hinton and Lou Kully expressed concern about the dates on the conditional use permits

Those dates are currently the Friday after Thanksgiving until Dec. 20.

Joe Kindig, a longtime employee of former Pine Patch owner David Glass, said the farm has sold out of trees every year over the last 17 years. In 2020, they sold out in nine days.

Kindig said it would be nice to have until Dec. 24 if allowable. He didn’t propose changing the dates in the application because he didn’t want to alter the existing conditional use permit.

Development Services Director Lisa Parnell-Rowe said Kindig could update that timeframe in his narrative prior to the Aug. 9 council meeting.

Local business owner Jeb Brant, a former employer of Kindig, spoke on his behalf.

“I think he’s a good kid,” he said. “It’s nice to see somebody young that’s willing to stick their neck out as I have in the past. I had some of you who are on this board stick your neck out for me and support me in the past.”

Commission members also unanimously recommended approval of a conditional use permit amendment resolution for an extended stay area included within the Hastings Campground at 302 E. 26th St. The plan calls for 12 long-term lots for 180 days. The remaining parking areas in the campground would continue to remain at a two-week or less stays.

Construction crew members can stay longer than 180 days if they show proof of working on a nearby job.

Owner Richard Thompson as well as resident Marie Law requested a longer long-term period be allowed. A couple commission members asked for that, as well.

Parnell-Rowe said if residents are allowed to stay there indefinitely it becomes a mobile home park.

Commission members also unanimously recommended approval of an ordinance to amend City Code sections to add language for a temporary use permit and amend uses and districts table to include restaurants, mobile vendors, temporary structures, recreational and temporary recreational vehicles.

The commission members unanimously approved electing fellow member Greg Sinner to be second vice chair. Sinner was absent.

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