City promises to cooperate on Straub

Staff writer

Promising to cooperate “to get it done right the first time,” city officials met with county commissioners last week to discuss how the county can seek zoning approval to purchase the former Straub International building in Marion.

The building isn’t zoned for government use, but commissioners will attempt to acquire a conditional use permit as a workaround.

Mayor Todd Heitschmidt, administrator Roger Holter, and zoning administrator Clayton Garnica attended a special county commission meeting last week to discuss about the application.

Holter said that clear communication about how the county would handle potential issues was important.

Traffic, noise, and what the county will do to preserve the appearance of the area were noted as important things for the county to consider.

Environmental concerns including fuel, chemical, hazardous waste storage and containment plans should figure in as well, Holter said.

Any plans for a communications tower, privacy screening, security, entrances, surface of the lot and basic maintenance also are being requested.

Commissioner Randy Dallke asked Holter whether the city had any rule about driveway surfaces.

Holter said that two years ago zoning regulations were changed to call for solid surface driveways, entrances, and parking. However, anything in the city that existed at the time, including existing gravel drives at the Straub site, were “grandfathered in.”

“As part of the conditional use permit, they can request use of gravel in place of the asphalt, concrete, etc.,” Holter said.

The city planning commission will make a recommendation to the city council regarding use of gravel, he said.

“While there is never a guarantee as to the way the vote will go, the [planning] commission allowed gravel to be used on the library parking until they had funding to concrete,” Holter said. “The ADA parking lot at the courthouse was approved as gravel for the short roadway between the entrance to the parking pad.”

Dallke suggested that hard surface might be best.

“As far a dust control, hard surface is cheaper than asphalt and better than gravel,” he said. “Asphalt drives the cost up.”

Commissioner Dan Holub said there wouldn’t be much change in the amount of dust kicked up by large vehicles with a shift from Straub’s implements to county road department vehicles.

“It’s the same issue,” Holub said. “It was and it is what it is going to be.”

Holter said he thought gravel made the most sense long-term and suggested the commission stay with it in its application. He said citizen concerns usually regarded getting traffic away from children and dust emissions away from shopping areas.

“My recommendation on the gravel for upkeep was twofold,” he said. “The weight of the trucks and equipment they will be driving in and out of the yard on a regular basis will breakdown anything other than eight-inch, reinforced-concrete poured roadway. With gravel, they can level and re-grade as needed to keep the area usable and to control dust.

 “They have $1,385,000 set aside in the budget for the multipurpose building. They would use all those dollars plus much more to pave the entire area. Taxpayer dollars would better be spent in providing services and repairs throughout the county rather than paving places to park equipment.”

Although it has no impact on approval of the permit, Garnica told commissioners, a one-inch waterline to the building might not be enough to handle future usage. A larger water line likely will be needed.

It also was noted that there is no fire hydrant on the site.

Any proposed additional structures must have their general size and location listed in the permit application. They also need to be situated out of the floodplain.

Once the county submits a request for a conditional use permit and pays the associated fee, a public meeting will be held within 20 days, and the county will meet with the city’s zoning and planning commission.

Holter pledged the city’s support of the county’s efforts.

Last modified Jan. 5, 2017

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