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Marion: Rezoning re-evaluated

Staff writer

After disagreeing with Marion planners over whether land in the city industrial park should be rezoned for retail sales and whether a dollar store developer should receive a conditional use permit to build a store on N. Roosevelt St., city council members Monday passed without comment two resolutions proposed by the planning commission.

Council members took zoning matters into their own hands in late February and rezoned a strip of the industrial park bordering Roosevelt St.

The planning commission had recommended rezoning only the northwest corner of the industrial park for commercial use.

Planning coordinator Margo Yates told council members the planners’ recommendation was different from what council members earlier voted.

Council members then tabled a recommendation from planners that compressed gravel should be allowed for parking only in certain circumstances. Instead, council members plan to attend the next planning commission meeting to talk about why they want compressed gravel approved.

Council member Zach Collett said he wanted a compromise on paving requirements so gravel could be used for driveways.

Mayor David Mayfield said he thought requirements that concrete be used would be too expensive for people building houses in the city.

City administrator Roger Holter said the way the proposed concrete parking requirement is written would make it difficult to enforce.

After initial resistance, council members agreed on a split vote to amend a sales contract — now expired — for property at 1004 Batt St. The contract originally was approved so buyers Brett and Ashley Unruh could install a carport-style facility for storage of boats and recreational vehicles.

“The contract is expired; there’s nothing we can do about that,” Mayfield told Yates.

Yates said a miscommunication with an abstract company had delayed closing the purchase.

Yates told council members that although the buyers had intended to change who would buy the property, they decided to leave the contract as written.

Council members Collett, Chris Costello, and Jerry Kline voted in favor of amending the closing date until April 15. Council member Ruth Herbel was opposed.

The council also relented on an attempt to evict residents of a dilapidated property not served by utilities.

Although Ashley and Justin Loomis, 413 S. 4th St., had a sign posted on their door Feb. 18 telling them to move out within two weeks because the house was not habitable, the process will now start again with a new sign giving them two weeks’ notice to vacate.

No explanation for restarting the process was offered.

Police Chief Jeffrey Clinton said police had seen nothing of the Loomises but thought they remain on the property.

City attorney Brian Bina said a second notice would be posted.

County records show the property as belonging to the Loomises father, Michael, who died in June 2020.

“This is the first of what I consider to be a few properties,” Bina said.

Other properties are not being maintained, Bina said. They are fire hazards and have no water or electric service. Bina said he wanted to have properties made livable again.

“Our goal is not to punish the people, but to get it in liveable condition,” Bina said.

Former Hillsboro city administrator Larry Paine, now doing consulting work at no charge to cities he works with, talked to council members about reasons for developing a five-year strategic plan. Paine said he’d done that with the cities he’d administrated and the results were positive.

“It’s a way to figure out where you want to go, what you want to accomplish, and how you’re going to get there,” Paine said.

Paine said often people have ideas that sound great, but the city needs to ask itself how that works with its strategic plan.

People considering locating in a city want to know whether the city is forward-thinking, he said.

Mayfield asked whether there’s a limit to the number of items that should be on the list.

“Yes,” Paine said. “Absolutely yes. Trying to do too much in too short a period of time will not be successful.”

Mayfield asked whether it should be a 20-year plan instead.

Paine said a shorter term gives the city a greater sense of accomplishment.

The city’s planning and zoning commission has been working on whether to update the city’s master plan, which has some features similar to the type of plan Paine proposed.

Last modified April 7, 2022

 

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