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City Council adopts changes to municipal code
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The laws of the City underwent multiple changes Tuesday night as the City Council unanimously voted in favor of an omnibus amendment to the Turlock Municipal Code, including changes to noise standards, modifications to landscaping and irrigation requirements and other revisions which are intended to make the City’s ordinance easier to understand and implement.

Changes made in the ordinance are often suggested by the public, and City Staff worked with the Planning Commission over the course of one and a half years to bring the amendments before the Council for consideration. In August 2016, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended the Council enact the proposed changes.

The first in the stack of amendments to the Municipal Code includes moving the starting period of Christmas tree sales from Nov. 25 to Nov. 22, as well as extending the period of time for clean-up from Jan. 8 to Jan. 15. The application process has also been changed to be consistent with the procedures for any other temporary use of land. The extension of the starting and clean-up periods were implemented in order to give the sales lots more time to both set up and clean their lots appropriately, said Deputy Director of Planning Debbie Whitmore.

“Personally, I don’t like to see anything Christmas before Thanksgiving, but I guess we’ve got to give them some time,” said Councilmember Gil Esquer.

Significant changes were made to Article 2 of Chapter 9-1 of the Municipal Code, which contains establishment of definitions. Changes to the City’s definitions of “bar” and “restaurant” are included, as well as the creation of a new “nightclub” definition.

The definition of a “restaurant” allows restaurants to sell alcoholic beverages along with food service, which would reflect the current state of the practice. A corresponding change was made to the “bar” definition, clarifying that some locations where minors are allowed even though food service is incidental to the sale of alcoholic beverages do not meet the City’s definition for a “restaurant” and will be classified as a “bar,” even though some level of food service is provided.

An entirely new definition, “nightclub,” has been added in order to place live entertainment, dancing and other performances into a single use category, effectively removing the in-place term of “entertainment, live.” Nightclubs can include live performances, DJs, bands and dancing, and the sale of alcoholic beverages or food is not required to fall under the new definition, but may be involved under the new term.

Whitmore explained to the Council that the new term was created in order to provide a name for places in town that provide a variety of entertainment, from dancing to live music.

“The ‘nightclub’ is a new definition…we had sort of dancing and live entertainment that were separate uses as defined in the Zoning Ordinance, and then you could have uses like we do in the Downtown with Vintage Lounge where you have combinations of those types of activities,” said Whitmore. “You have dancing, you have some live entertainment and you also have alcohol service that is being offered. The nightclub definition really combines all of those elements.”

Other changes to definitions include the movement of large and small family day care homes into a new classification called “family day care homes,” the redefinition of group homes, such as nursing homes and rehabilitation homes, and group quarters, like fraternity or sorority houses.

Standards allowing building projections into yards were also approved within the amendments, allowing attached patios and air conditioners, heaters, pool equipment and other similar equipment to project into yards. Another change extended the time limit for parking recreational vehicles, boats and other vessels from 48 hours to 72 hours, consistent with the code for abandoned vehicles — a change requested by Neighborhood Services to make it easier for officers to enforce the time restriction for recreational vehicles.

There are 15 changes in total included in the omnibus amendment, which also includes significant changes to noise standards, underground utilities, wireless communication facilities, recycling and solid waste disposal regulations and landscaping and irrigation.

To view the Turlock Municipal Code, visit